835 F.2d 368 (1st Cir. 1987), 87-1309, Maine Cent. R. Co. v. Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees

Docket Nº:87-1309.
Citation:835 F.2d 368
Party Name:The MAINE CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY, et al., Plaintiffs, Appellants, v. BROTHERHOOD OF MAINTENANCE OF WAY EMPLOYEES, et al., Defendants, Appellees.
Case Date:December 11, 1987
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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835 F.2d 368 (1st Cir. 1987)

The MAINE CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY, et al., Plaintiffs, Appellants,



Defendants, Appellees.

No. 87-1309.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

December 11, 1987

Heard Sept. 14, 1987.

John Spelman with whom Andrew O. Schiff and Klehr, Harrison, Harvey, Branzburg, Ellers & Weir, Philadelphia, Pa., were on brief, for plaintiffs, appellants.

Jeffrey Clair, Appellate Staff, Civ. Div., Dept. of Justice, with whom William Kanter, Appellate Staff, Civ. Div., Dept. of Justice, Richard K. Willard, Asst. Atty. Gen., Washington, D.C., and Richard S. Cohen, U.S. Atty., Portland, Me., were on brief, for defendant, appellee Nat. Mediation Bd.

Richard S. Edelman with whom John O'B. Clarke, Jr., and Highsaw & Mahoney, P.C., were on brief, for defendant, appellee Broth. of Maintenance of Way Employees.

Before COFFIN, ALDRICH and TORRUELLA, Circuit Judges.

TORRUELLA, Circuit Judge.

This case comes to us on Maine Central Railroad Company's appeal from summary judgment in its action seeking to enjoin operation of Pub.L. No. 99-431, 100 Stat. 987 (Sept. 30, 1986) (the "Second Act"). We consider, on appeal, whether Congress properly imposed certain financial burdens on Maine Central and its wholly-owned subsidiary, the Portland Terminal Co. (hereinafter, collectively, the "Railroad" or

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"Maine Central"), in order to resolve a labor dispute between the Railroad and certain of its employees. Appellant urges us to hold that such individualized attention, in this case and in view of the specific burdens imposed, violates the Equal Protection and Due Process components of the fifth amendment to the Constitution; or that Congress' chosen method of resolving the dispute violates the doctrine of separation of powers.

The labor dispute may at one time have been an "isolated collective bargaining dispute between a small Maine railroad and a national labor organization." Appellant's Brief at 3. As a result of nationwide secondary striking, however, it snowballed to affect railroads across the nation, and to involve the state courts of Maine, several federal district courts, the First, Second and Seventh Circuits, and even the Supreme Court of the United States. See Burlington Northern Railroad Co. v. Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, --- U.S. ----, 107 S.Ct. 1841, 95 L.Ed.2d 381 (1987). Indeed, even the intervention of the President of the United States himself has become necessary in this "isolated collective bargaining dispute," through the appointment of Emergency Board 209 on May 16, 1986, see 45 U.S.C. Sec. 160.

Nor is Congress a stranger to the dispute. The creation of an Emergency Board, under 45 U.S.C. Sec. 160, automatically entails a "cooling off" or moratorium period. While this moratorium temporarily stopped the strike, it expired without bringing about an end to the dispute. As a result, Congress statutorily extended the moratorium in the "First Act." Pub.L. No. 99-385, 100 Stat. 819 (Aug. 21, 1986). We upheld that law in an earlier suit and appeal concerning many of the same issues raised today. See Maine Central Railroad Co. v. Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, 813 F.2d 484 (1st Cir.1987) (Maine Central I ). Despite this additional hiatus the parties again failed to settle their differences during the enforced cease-fire, as a result of which Congress passed the Second Act, ending the war by legislating substantive resolution of all the underlying differences, and mandating binding arbitration for any "unresolved implementing issues." The Second Act, in its entirety, is reproduced in the Appendix.

The specific terms of the Second Act also have a long history. Emergency Board 209, mentioned above, held hearings at which both parties were represented and were given every opportunity to present their positions. The Board then issued a report which essentially adopted a proposal made by the Railroad to the Union during earlier negotiations (with the sole exception that the Board granted protection payments of $26,000 per employee, rather than $20,000). The Union, but not the Railroad, accepted this proposal during the ensuing 30-day moratorium.

When the First Act extended the moratorium an additional 60 days, it also created a Congressional Advisory Board which was to report to Congress on the progress of negotiations, relevant financial and other circumstances, and any developments since the beginning of the strike against Maine Central. It is evident from the report of the Advisory Board, reproduced in the parties' Joint Appendix at p. 380a, that Maine Central was able to submit exhibits and briefs, with information updating that presented to the Emergency Board.

After painstaking examination of the parties' contentions, and the financial condition of Guilford (Maine Central's parent corporation), the Advisory Board rejected the argument that the strike had so changed the condition of the Railroad as to render Maine Central's earlier proposal no longer feasible. Joint Appendix at 405a. The Advisory Board recommended that:

In the absence of agreement between the parties disposing of this dispute no later than September 13, 1986, the Congress should enact legislation directing the parties to accept and apply the recommendations of [Emergency Board] 209. Should the parties be unable to agree as to all necessary details in applying the recommendations by October 1, 1986 any unsettled issues should be submitted to final and binding arbitration before an arbitrator designated by the [National Mediation Board].

Joint Appendix at 413a.

With very little debate, the Congress adopted the recommendations of the two Boards, and passed Senate Joint Resolution 415, which became law (the Second Act) when the President signed it on September 30, 1986.

It is this law that is said to contravene the Equal Protection component of the fifth amendment to the United States Constitution. At the outset, Maine Central concedes that, under our holding in Maine Central I, the legislation at issue need only survive the so-called minimum rationality test: "Economic legislation, ... 'that does not employ suspect classifications or impinge

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on fundamental rights must be upheld against equal protection attack when the legislative means are rationally related to a legitimate governmental purpose.' " Maine Central I, 813 F.2d at 488 (quoting Hodel v. Indiana, 452 U.S. 314, 331, 101 S.Ct. 2376, 2387, 69 L.Ed.2d 40 (1981)).

Maine Central also grants that the act's stated purpose --"that essential transportation services be maintained"--is legitimate. It claims, however, that the classification chosen by Congress to achieve this purpose is completely arbitrary or irrational. Appellant argues that "nothing unique to the Railroad's past labor dispute justifies [the Act's] specific and severe burdens." Appellant's Brief at 21. The Railroad's singularity, however, has been addressed already in Maine Central I. There we concluded:

There may be hundreds of active railroad labor disputes, and, as Maine Central points out, others may turn out to have national impact, but it was the Maine Central-BMWE dispute that in Congress' judgment was threatening to disrupt interstate commerce. This was not arbitrary or irrational; the Act, therefore, did not violate the equal protection component of the fifth amendment.

Id. at 492. It was the same threat, caused by the same dispute, that Congress was dealing with in the Second Act. Nothing occurred, between the two Acts, to rid...

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