447 F.Supp. 88 (W.D.Tenn. 1977), C-76-104, Local Division 1285, Amalgamated Transit Union, AFL/CIO/CLC v. Jackson Transit Authority

Docket Nº:C-76-104-E.
Citation:447 F.Supp. 88
Party Name:LOCAL DIVISION 1285, AMALGAMATED TRANSIT UNION, AFL/CIO/CLC, Plaintiff, v. JACKSON TRANSIT AUTHORITY, the City of Jackson, William T. Coleman, Jr., Secretary of Transportation, and William J. Usery, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor, Defendants.
Case Date:December 23, 1977
Court:United States District Courts, 6th Circuit, Western District of Tennessee

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447 F.Supp. 88 (W.D.Tenn. 1977)



JACKSON TRANSIT AUTHORITY, the City of Jackson, William T. Coleman, Jr., Secretary of Transportation, and William J. Usery, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor, Defendants.

No. C-76-104-E.

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division.

Dec. 23, 1977

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Linda R. Hirshman, Jacobs, Burns, Sugarman & Orlove, Chicago, Ill., for plaintiff.

Sidney W. Spragins, Spragins & Murchison, Jackson, Tenn., for defendants.


WELLFORD, District Judge.

Plaintiff, an unincorporated labor organization, claims a violation of the Urban Mass Transit Act, 49 U.S.C. s 1601 et seq. (hereafter UMTA) and more particularly asserts that a contract required under 49 U.S.C. s 1609(c) has been violated by the City of Jackson, Tennessee (hereafter City), and its municipal transit authority. Plaintiff further claims that the United States Secretaries of Transportation and Labor have failed to carry out their responsibilities under this law. The federal officials have filed a motion to dismiss and/or for summary judgment, and the City and the Jackson Transit Authority (hereafter JTA) have likewise filed a motion to dismiss. After consideration of the matters submitted by the respective parties, oral argument, reconsideration of an earlier Opinion in this case 1, and the entire record, the Court has concluded that defendants' motions are well taken for the reasons indicated.

Plaintiff is the duly designated collective bargaining representative of JTA employees. This dispute arises out of a 1966 grant application by the City under UMTA for financial assistance in the operation of its public bus transit system. A labor agreement was executed in 1966 as required by the Act between plaintiff and JTA, and a grant was approved to the City. Plaintiff now claims that the City and JTA have abrogated this collective bargaining agreement and that the federal officials have failed to exercise statutory duties to prevent this allegedly wrongful action. We first turn to the latter contention.


Jurisdiction in this Court depends upon plaintiff establishing that a federal question exists, and that this is not simply a labor contract controversy which should be settled in state courts or before the NLRB. Plaintiff cites Section 13(c) of UMTA, 49 U.S.C. s 1609(c) 2 and argues that the Secretary of Labor has continuing authority and responsibility to protect the interests of employees under the "fair and equitable" labor agreement required by this provision. It is conceded that the Secretary of Labor is not a party to the agreement which plaintiff claims has been breached more than ten years after it was originally executed. Plaintiff cites no authority for its position, but submits an affidavit of the general counsel of the Amalgamated Transit Union, AFL-CIO, in Washington, to the effect that he has submitted complaints to the Department of Labor and that it has " consistently exercised ongoing responsibility to secure compliance with the requirements" of section 13c. The general counsel further

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asserts that the Secretary of Labor has interpreted requirements of this section of the law, made investigations of complaints of violations, engaged in conciliation, and initiated remedial action "including the administrative termination of grant funds."

That the Secretary of Labor may have performed these acts does not indicate that plaintiff has standing under the law to maintain this action against the Secretary for the particular relief requested. The Act in question provides for grants of financial assistance by the Federal government to State and local entities to assist in developing and improving mass transit. The process of collective bargaining is recognized in that the labor organization representing employees involved and the employing entity must submit an agreement covering those employees prior to approval by the Secretary of Labor. No further action on the part of the Secretary of Labor is specified. There is no jurisdictional basis for this Court to require of the Secretary of Labor a continuing responsibility not mandated or referred to in the Act in question. Compare Kendler v. Wirtz, 388 F.2d 381 (3d Cir. 1968) and Johnson v. Redevelopmental Agency, 317 F.2d 872 (9th Cir. 1963). Plaintiff has no standing in this Court to seek the relief requested against the Secretary of Labor. The claim against the Secretary of Labor is no basis for the exercise of pendent jurisdiction with respect to the breach of contract dispute. United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 86 S.Ct. 1130, 16 L.Ed.2d 218 (1966).

The Secretary of Labor's motion to dismiss is therefore granted.


Plaintiff also alleges that the Secretary of Transportation has the responsibility, pursuant to 49 U.S.C. s 1608(e), to enforce the contractual agreement and asks that the Court order Secretary Adams (formerly Coleman) to take "appropriate action to enforce compliance." Again, there is no express statutory language upon which this petition is based except that the Secretary of the Department of Transportation is generally authorized to carry out the essential functions of the UMTA. Plaintiff argues that the Secretary is authorized under s 1602 to make grants or loans on terms and conditions required under the Act and that this authority includes the responsibility to enforce a labor contract made at the time of the Act. Section 1608(e) makes it clear that the Secretary is not to regulate the mode of operation or rates of any public or private transit agency, but plaintiff refers specifically to the following language of that section: ". . . but nothing in this subsection shall prevent the Secretary from taking such actions as may be necessary to require compliance by the agency or agencies involved with any undertaking furnished by such agency or agencies in connection with the application for the grant."

The primary purpose for the insertion of that provision, however, related to the fear of Congress that the Department of Transportation would become a super rate-maker for local and state utilities. 110 Cong. Rec. 14976-79 (1964). It is difficult to attribute to Congress, however, an intent to require the Secretary of Transportation, in perpetuity, to oversee, supervise and enforce the detailed provisions of the manifold and varying contract arrangements which are "preconditions" to securing grants under UMTA. The cases cited by plaintiff 3 involved reviewability by the courts of an administrative determination required to be made by an administrative officer under a statute (1) with regard to use of federal highway funds; (2) with regard to food and drug regulations issued under congressional enactment; and (3) with regard to an Immigration Act order of exclusion by the Attorney General. These cases, in differing circumstances, spell out the right of judicial review of administrative actions authorized and required by law. None involves the type of mandamus sought here by plaintiff

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to order the Secretary of Transportation affirmatively to take some action, particularly to inject himself into the midst of a labor dispute.

Congress has been jealous to vest particular agencies, such as the Department of Labor, the National Railway Adjustment Board, the National Mediation Board and the NLRB, and not the courts, with authority to order parties to do or refrain from doing things in collective bargaining disputes. It would be stretching beyond the reasonable to infer some intent by Congress to involve the Transportation Secretary with the detailed contentions of parties about compliance with or breach of a collective bargaining agreement merely because such an agreement was made years ago in respect of an original urban transit grant approved and administered by the Transportation Department. The statute here does not create a federal right in favor of plaintiff to demand such action by the Secretary of Transportation. It does not indicate a legislative intent to create such a remedy, nor is it consistent with the legislative scheme to imply the remedy sought by plaintiff. Cort v. Ash, 422 U.S. 66, 95 S.Ct. 2080, 45 L.Ed.2d 26 (1975). No case is cited by plaintiff indicating such an interpretation of UMTA.

The Court is therefore without jurisdiction to order defendant Adams, Secretary of Transportation, to take action to enforce compliance under UMTA of the contract in question. This defendant's motion to dismiss is granted.


Plaintiff contends that federal...

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