Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority v. Brotherhood of R. R. Trainmen

Decision Date03 October 1960
Citation8 Cal.Rptr. 1,54 Cal.2d 684,355 P.2d 905
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
Parties, 355 P.2d 905, 46 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 3065, 41 Lab.Cas. P 50,055 LOS ANGELES METROPOLITAN TRANSIT AUTHORITY, Respondent, v. BROTHERHOOD OF RAILROAD TRAINMEN (an Unincorporated Association) et al., Appellants. L. A. 25676

Bodle, Fogel & Warren, George E. Bodle, Daniel Fogel and Stephen Reinhardt, Los Angeles, for appellants.

Hirson & Horn, Los Angeles, and O. David Zimring, Chicago, Ill., amici curiae on behalf of appellants.

Musick, Peeler & Garrett, Gerald G. Kelly, Roderick M. Hills and Frederick B. Warder, Jr., Los Angeles, for respondent.

GIBSON, Chief Justice.

Plaintiff, a public corporation organized under the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority Act of 1957, operates facilities for the transportation of passengers in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino. Stats.1957, ch. 547. 1 The two principal transit companies in the Los Angeles area were acquired by plaintiff, and the employees of those companies, subject to normal turnover, are now employees of plaintiff. Defendant brotherhood is the exclusive bargaining representative of certain of plaintiff's exployees, such as conductors, motormen, motor coach operators, ground loaders, and trafficmen. This action was brought to obtain a declaratory judgment that plaintiff's employees represented by defendant brotherhood are without the legal right to strike because they are employees of a public corporation. The trial court so held, and defendants have appealed.

In the absence of legislative authorization public employees in general do not have the right to strike (see 31 A.L.R.2d 1142, 1159-1161), and the questions presented here are whether the act creating the transit authority gave its employees such a right and, if so, whether the statute is constitutional as applied to the employees represented by the brotherhood.

Subdivision (c) of section 3.6 of the act provides: 'Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection. * * * Notwithstanding any other provision of this act * * * the authority * * * shall enter into a written contract with the accredited representative of (its) employees governing wages, salaries, hours and working conditions. * * *' (Italics added.)

Language indentical with the italicized words of subdivision (c) first appeared in section 2 of the Norris-LaGuardia Act (47 Stat. 70; 29 U.S.C. § 102), and it has been contained in section 923 of-our Labor Code since 1937. 2 The identical language was also used in section 7(a) of the National Industrial Recovery Act (48 Stat. 195, 198), section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (the Wagner Act, 49 Stat. 449, 452), and section 7 of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947 (the Taft-Hartley Act, 61 Stat. 135, 140; 29 U.S.C. § 157). The courts have uniformly interpreted these words as including the right to strike peacefully to enforce union demands with respect to wages, hours, and working conditions. Weber v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc., 1955, 348 U.S. 468, 474-475, 75 S.Ct. 480, 99 L.Ed. 546; Amalgamated Association, etc. v. Wisconsin Employment Relations Board, 1951, 340 U.S. 383, 389, 398, 71 S.Ct. 359, 95 L.Ed.2d 364; International Union of United Automobile, etc., Workers of America v. O'Brien, 1950, 339 U.S. 454, 456-457, 70 S.Ct. 781, 94 L.Ed. 978; Collins Baking Co. v. National Labor Relations Board, 5 Cir., 193 F.2d 483, 486; National Labor Relations Board v. Peter Cailler Kohler Swiss Chocolates Co., 2 Cir., 130 F.2d 503, 505; G. C. Breidert Co. v. Sheet Metal, etc. Ass'n, 139 Cal.App.2d 633, 638, 294 P.2d 93. The cases have applied the language to a number of specific situations and have determined that it includes other activities as well as strikes but does snot sanction all collective conduct of workingmen or all kinds of strikes; for example, sit-down strikes have not been included within the right to engage in other concerted activities. See International Union of United Automobile, ect., Workers of America v. O'Brien, 1950, supra, 339 U.S. 454, 457-459, 70 S.Ct. 781, 94 L.Ed. 978; International Union etc. v. Wisconsin Employment Relations Board, 1949, 336 U.S. 245, 255 et seq., 69 S.Ct. 516, 93 L.Ed. 651; Park & Tilford Import Corp. v. International, etc., of Teamsters, 27 Cal.2d 599, 604-605, 165 P.2d 891, 162 A.L.R. 1426.

When legislation has been judicially construed and a subsequent statute on the same or an analogous subject is framed in the identical language, it will ordinarily be presumed that the Legislature intended that the language a used in the later enactment would be given a like interpretation. This rule is applicable to state statutes which are patterned after federal statutes. Scripps Memorial Hospital v. California Employment Comm., 24 Cal.2d 669, 677, 151 P.2d 109, 155 A.L.R. 360; Holmes v. McColgan, 17 Cal.2d 426, 430, 110 P.2d 428; Union Oil Associates v. Johnson, 2 Cal.2d 727, 734, 43 P.2d 291, 98 A.L.R. 1499. Although the cases which have interpreted the italicized words involved private employees, the act before us incorporates the exact language, consisting of 16 words, found in the earlier statutes, and it is unlikely that the same words would have been repeated without any qualification in a later statute in the absence of an intent that they be given the construction previously adopted by the courts.

Terms such as 'concerted activities' are commonly used by courts as well as legislative bodies to refer to strikes. This court, for example, on a number of occasions has used the words 'concerted action' as an inclusive term referring to strikes, picketing and boycotts. See, e. g., Petri Cleaners, Inc. v. Automotive Employees, etc., Local No. 88, 53 Cal.2d 455, 469 et seq., 2 Cal.Rptr. 470; Park & Tilford Import Corp. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 27 Cal.2d 599, 603, 165 P.2d 891, 162 A.L.R. 1426; James v. Marinship Corp., 25 Cal.2d 721, 729, 155 P.2d 329, 160 A.L.R. 900. Our codes provide that technical words and phrases, and others which have acquired 'a peculiar and appropriate' meaning in law, are to be construed according to such meaning. Civ.Code, § 13; Code Civ.Proc. § 16.

Other provisions of the act support the conclusion that the Legislature granted plaintiff's employees the right to strike. The employees of the two transit companies taken over by plaintiff had the right to strike prior to acquisition, and the act provides that, when plaintiff acquires any privately-owned public utility, it must observe all labor contracts of the utility and that no demployee 'shall suffer any worsening of his wages, seniority, pension, vacation or other benefits by reason of the acquisition.' (Italics added.) Section 3.6, subd. (e). The fact that the Legislature contemplated a right to strike on the part of plaintiff's employees also appears from subdivision (h) of section 3.6 which provides that plaintiff's statutory obligation to bargain collectively extends to all matters which are 'proper subjects of collective bargaining with a private employer.' The question whether employees may strike and the circumstances under which they may do so are proper subjects of collective bargaining, and clauses relating to strikes are commonly found in collective bargaining contracts. When these provisions of the act are considered together with the express requirement that plaintiff bargain collectively, it is obvious that the legislative intent was to depart from the traditional system of fixing the terms and conditions of governmental employment and to establish for plaintiff and its employees a system comparable to that existing between a privately-owned public utility and its employees. A further indication of such an intent is found in subdivision (g) of section 3.6, which provides that plaintiff, when authorized by its employees, may make deductions from their wages and salaries for the payment of union dues or for 'any purpose for which deductions may be authorized by the employees of any private employer.' To carry out its intent the Legislature chose the language which is found in statutes relating to private employees and which has been given a definite meaning through interpretation by the courts.

The right of public employees to strike has been sustained in two other jurisdictions even though the statutes did not, as here, contain provisions which specifically authorized the public employees in question to engage in collective bargaining and other concerted activities. Local 266, ect. v. Salt River Project Agr. Imp. & Power Dist., 78 Ariz. 30, 275 P.2d 393, 396 et seq., involved employees of an irrigation district which under section 7 of article 13 of the Arizona Constitution, A.R.S., was declared to be a political subdivision of the state 'and vested with all the rights, privileges and benefits, and entitled to the immunities and exemptions granted municipalities and political subdivisions under this Constitution or any law of the state or of the United States.' A statute, A.C.A.1939, § 75-714, provided that the district could enter into 'all necessary contracts.' The court, stating that the function of the district, which supplied power to 100,000 users, was business and economic and not political and governmental, held that the provision permitted but did not require collective bargaining contracts and that since such contracts were legal the employees could strike to enforce a demand for collective bargaining. Board of Education, etc. v. Public School Employees' Union, 233 Minn. 144, 45 N.W.2d 797, 800 et seq., 29 A.L.R.2d 424, concerned the interpretation of a Minnesota statute, applicable to employees generally, which prohibited the issuance of injunctions against...

To continue reading

Request your trial
68 cases
  • City and County of San Francisco v. Cooper
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • April 4, 1975
    ...employee strikes represents an implicit authorization of such action. (Cf. Los Angeles Met. Transit Authority v. Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen (1960) 54 Cal.2d 684, 687--691, 8 Cal.Rptr. 1, 355 P.2d 905.)6 See, e.g., Ohio Revised Code, sections 4117.01--4117.05; N.Y. Civil Service Law, M......
  • San Clemente Ranch, Ltd. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Bd.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • June 27, 1980
    ...(§§ 1140.2, 1152), language that has been construed to permit a strike. (Los Angeles Met. Transit Authority v. Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen (1960) 54 Cal.2d 684, 687-689, 8 Cal.Rptr. 1, 355 P.2d 905.) Farms v. Agricultural Labor Relations Board (1979) 95 Cal.App.3d 961, 967, 157 Cal.Rpt......
  • County Sanitation Dist. No. 2 of Los Angeles County v. Los Angeles County Employees Ass'n, Local 660, Service Employees Intern. Union AFL-CIO
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • October 12, 1983
    ...has squarely passed upon the legality of strikes by public employees, although in Los Angeles Met. Transit Authority v. Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen (1960) 54 Cal.2d 684, 8 Cal.Rptr. 1, 355 P.2d 905, wherein the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority Act was held to authorize strike......
  • San Diego Teachers Assn. v. Superior Court
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • April 10, 1979
    ...aid or protection" is generally understood to confer a right to strike. (Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority v. Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen (1960) 54 Cal.2d 684, 687-688, 8 Cal.Rptr. 1, 355 P.2d 905.) Petitioners contend that the EERA, though excluding Labor Code section 923' § ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT