380 U.S. 650 (1965), 138, Brotherhood of Railway & Steamship Clerks, Freight

Docket Nº:No. 138
Citation:380 U.S. 650, 85 S.Ct. 1192, 14 L.Ed.2d 133
Party Name:Brotherhood of Railway & Steamship Clerks, Freight
Case Date:April 28, 1965
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 650

380 U.S. 650 (1965)

85 S.Ct. 1192, 14 L.Ed.2d 133

Brotherhood of Railway & Steamship Clerks, Freight

No. 138

United States Supreme Court

April 28, 1965

Handlers, Express & Station Employees v. Association

for the Benefit of Noncontract Employees

Argued March 4, 1965

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT

Syllabus

The Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks (Brotherhood) filed with the National Mediation Board (Board) an application under § 2, Ninth of the Railway Labor Act, which, as later amended, requested investigation of a representation dispute among the "clerical, office, stores, fleet and passenger service" employees of United Air Lines (United). The Board had determined that grouping to be appropriate for collective bargaining in a case (R-1706) decided in 1947 after an extensive hearing in which United and other airlines, by invitation, gave their views. The Board found that a representation dispute existed, and scheduled a secret election, proposing to use its standard ballot providing for the printing of the names of the two labor organizations in the dispute, with a third space for a "write in" designation, but no space for a specific "no union" vote. Seeking to enjoin the Board from conducting an election unless it held a hearing on the craft or class issue and unless the ballot allowed an employee to vote against representation, United, after extensive correspondence with the Board, filed suit. The District Court dismissed the case, the Court of Appeals affirmed, and the case is here on certiorari as No. 139. The Association for the Benefit of Non-Contract Employees of United (the Association), which had been formed only to be heard by the Board in a craft or class proceeding and to have the ballot amended, brought a similar suit after United's case was dismissed, and the Brotherhood intervened. The District Court enjoined the Board from conducting an election which did not permit an employee to

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vote against collective bargaining representation. The Board and the Brotherhood filed separate appeals. The Court of Appeals affirmed both cases, which are here on certiorari as Nos. 138 and 369. The Board later amended the ballot form to state that no employee is required to vote, and that, if less than a majority of employees casts valid ballots, no representative will be certified.

Held:

1. The Railway Labor Act precludes judicial review of the Board's certification of a collective bargaining representative. Switchmen' Union v. National Mediation Board, 320 U.S. 297, followed. Pp. 658-660.

2. The Board's action here is reviewable only to the extent of the question of the Board's performance of its statutory duty to "investigate" the representation dispute. P. 661.

3. The Board performed its statutory duty to conduct an investigation and designate the craft or class in which the election should be held. P. 661.

(a) The Board's duty to investigate is to make such informal, non-adversary investigation as the nature of the case may require. P. 662.

(b) The Board has not failed to make sufficient investigation, and has not blindly followed its R-1706 ruling. Pp. 662-665.

(c) The Board did not adhere solely to the craft or class chosen by the unions, having consistently held hearings (though not required to do so) to determine the propriety of units requested by unions which were untested by actual collective bargaining, but dispensing with such hearings where, as here, experience has shown the grouping to be satisfactory. P. 665.

(d) The Act does not require that a carrier be made a party to whatever procedure the Board uses to determine the propriety of a craft or class, that status being given only to those who seek to represent employees; and whether and to what extent the carrier's views may be presented is solely within the Board's discretion. Pp. 666-667.

(e) The Board does not select the bargaining representative; it only investigates, defines the scope of the electorate, holds the election, and certifies the winner. P. 667.

4. The Board's decision as to the form of ballot or whether selection shall be by ballot is not subject to judicial review, and, in view of the Board's long established election procedures, the District

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Court erred in enjoining the Board from holding an election with a ballot not providing opportunity, on it face, for an employee to vote against collective representation. Pp. 668-669.

5. The Board's rule of election procedure that "no vote" is a vote for no representation is within the Board's statutory authority under § 2, Fourth, and was favorable to the Association's employees. Pp. 670-671.

117 U.S.App.D.C. 387, 330 F.2d 853, judgments in Nos. 138 and 369 revered, judgment in No. 139 affirmed.

CLARK, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the Court.

These consolidated cases involve claims of United Air Lines (United) and the Association for the Benefit of Non-Contract Employees of United (the Association), attacking the form of ballot that the Board intends to use in a representation election among United's employees under § 2, Ninth of the Railway Labor Act, 44 Stat. 577,

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as amended, 45 U.S.C. § 152, Ninth (1958 ed.).1 United also contends that the National Mediation Board (Board) should hold a hearing under the same section, with its participation, to determine the appropriate craft or class in which the election should be held. Before the Board, the conflicting unions

-- Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks (Brotherhood) and International Association of Machinists (Machinists) -- agreed that the appropriate craft or class in which the election should be held was "clerical, office, stores, fleet and passenger service employees"; over the objection of United, the Board ordered an election in this unit to determine which union, if either, would be its bargaining representative. United then filed suit against the Board raising the questions it presses here. This case was dismissed, and is here, after affirmance by

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the Court of Appeals, as No. 139. After this dismissal, the Association filed suit against the Board, the Brotherhood being permitted to intervene, and raised substantially the same claims. The District Court enjoined the Board from conducting an election with a ballot that did not permit an employee to cast a vote against collective bargaining representation; the other issues were remanded to the Board for further consideration. 218 F.Supp. 114. The Court of Appeals affirmed these cases by a divided court, and they are here as Nos. 138 and 369. 117 U.S.App.D.C. 387, 330 F.2d 853. Judge Wright, dissenting, thought the District Court was without jurisdiction to enjoin the Board from conducting a representation election, citing Switchmen's Union v. National Mediation Board, 320 U.S. 297 (1943). We granted certiorari in all three of the cases. 379 U.S. 814.

[85 S.Ct. 1195] We hold that the Board satisfied its statutory duty to investigate the dispute; that United is not entitled to be a party to proceedings by which the Board determines the scope of the appropriate craft or class; and that the Board's choice of ballot for its future elections does not exceed its statutory authority, and is therefore not open to judicial review.

1. THE FACTS

In January, 1947, after lengthy hearings in which United and other airlines participated at the request of the Board, it was determined that the "clerical, office, stores, fleet and passenger service" grouping of employees constituted an appropriate craft or class, within the meaning of the Act, for collective bargaining purposes. Case No. R-1706, N.M.B. Determinations of Craft or Class 423 (1948). All of the parties here, save the Association, participated in this public hearing. Since that time, they have participated in other cases involving the same questions decided in R-1706, but, with some exceptions, the

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Board has continued through the years to hold elections in that craft or class.

In August, 1962, the Brotherhood filed with the Board an application under § 2, Ninth, to investigate a representation dispute among employees of United. In its original application, the Brotherhood proposed to exclude those stores and fleet service personnel then represented by the Machinists. After the Board had advised United and the Machinists of the Brotherhood's application, each informed the Board that, in its opinion, the application should be dismissed because it did not conform to what the Board had found to constitute a craft or class in Case No. R-1706, supra. Alternatively, United requested that, if dismissal was not in order, the Board should hold hearings to determine the proper craft or class in which the election should be held. Upon receiving notice of this opposition, the Brotherhood amended its application to include the full craft or class approved in R-1706. The Machinists then agreed that this was the appropriate unit in which to conduct the election.

The Board concluded that a dispute existed requiring an election, and scheduled one for January, 1963. It proposed to use its standard form of ballot, which provided for the printing of the names of the labor organizations -- in this case, the Brotherhood and the Machinists -- with a box below each name for the employee to check the representative preferred. A third space was provided in which the employee could write in the name of any other organization or individual he wished to represent him. There was not a place on the ballot in which the employee could vote specifically for "no union."

The Board, on December 19, 1962, directed that a list of the employees...

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