Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. Jacksonville Terminal Co, 69

Decision Date25 March 1969
Docket NumberNo. 69,69
Citation22 L.Ed.2d 344,89 S.Ct. 1109,394 U.S. 369
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

See 394 U.S. 1024, 89 S.Ct. 1622.

Neal P. Rutledge, Miami, Fla., for petitioners.

Dennis G. Lyons, Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Mr. Justice HARLAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case arises out of the Nation's longest railroad labor dispute, much of the history of which is recorded in the pages of the United States and federal reports.1 The events most pertinent to the present litigation began on April 24, 1966, when the Florida East Coast Railway Company (FEC), having exhausted all procedures required by the Railway Labor Act2 for the resolution of a 'major dispute,'3 unilaterally changed its operating employees' rates of pay, rules, and working con itions. Petitioners, who represent FEC's operating employees, responded by calling a strike and thereafter by picketing the various locations at which FEC carried on its operations, including the premises of the respondent, Jacksonville Terminal Company.4 On the complaint of respondent and two railroads other than FEC, a United States District Court issued a temporary restraining order several hours after the picketing began, and later enjoined petitioners from picketing respondent's premises except at a 'reserved gate' set aside for FEC employees. The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed holding that the Norris-LaGuardia Act, 47 Stat. 70, 29 U.S.C. § 101 et seq., prevented issuance of a federal injunction. Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. Atlantic C.L.R. Co., 362 F.2d 649 (1966). We affirmed by an equally divided Court. 385 U.S. 20, 87 S.Ct. 226, 17 L.Ed.2d 20 (1966).

While that litigation was pending in the federal courts, respondent instituted the present action for injunctive relief in the Florida Circuit Court. Petitioners removed the action to the United States District Court, which promptly remanded to the state court. The Florida court issued a temporary injunction, substantially identical to the earlier federal order, which it made final after a full hearing. On appeal, the Florida District Court of Appeal affirmed per curiam 201 So.2d 253. The Supreme Court of Florida denied certiorari 209 So.2d 670 and dismissed the appeal. 207 So.2d 458. We granted certiorari, 392 U.S. 904, 88 S.Ct. 2060, 20 L.Ed.2d 1365 (1968), to determine the extent of state power to regulate the economic combat of parties subject to the Railway Labor Act.


Respondent, a Florida corporation, operates a passenger and freight rail terminal facility in Jacksonville, Florida, through which rail traffic passes to and from the Florida peninsula. The corporation is jointly owned and controlled by four railroad carriers, including FEC, which enjoy the common use of the terminal's facilities and services, and share equally in its operation. 5 FEC carries on substantial daily operations at the terminal, interchanging freight cars with the other railroads; it accounts for approximately 30% of all interchanges on the premises. Respondent provides various services necessary to FEC § operations, including switching, signalling, track maintenance, and repairs on FEC cars and engines. Without the work and cooperation of employees of respondent (and the other railroads) FEC could not carry on its normal activities at the terminal. In short, 'despite the legal separateness of the Terminal Company's entity and operation, it cannot be disputed that the facilities and services provided by the Terminal Company in fact constitute an integral part of the day-to-day operations of the FEC * * *.' Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. Atlantic C.L.R. Co., 362 F.2d 649, 651 (1966).

Respondent maintains a 'reserved gate' for the exclusive use of all FEC employees entering the terminal premises on foot to begin their workday. Notices to this effect are posted, but compliance is not policed: FEC employees use other entrances as well, and other employees use the FEC reserved entrance. The terminal has a number of other foot, road, and rail entrances, through which pass employees of respondent and the railroads using the premises. No entrances are set aside to separate those employees of respondent and the other railroads who provide services for FEC from those who do not; nor, with one or two possible exceptions, do trains making interchanges with FEC pass through different gateways from those which do not. The joint and common use of the premises and facilities would, presumably, render such separations impracticable.

On May 4, 1966, petitioners began to picket almost every entrance to the terminal. The signs stated clearly that the dispute was with FEC alone, and urged 'fellow railroad men' not to 'cross' and not to 'assist FEC.'6 The picketing was entirely peaceful. It lasted only a few hours, until it was curtailed by a federal temporary restraining order, and thereafter by a series of federal and state injunctions.

The Florida Circuit Court found that resumption of general picketing 'would result in a virtual cessation of activities * * * of the Terminal Company,' and would cause serious economic damage to the entire State. Joint App. 183. The court held that the picketing constituted a secondary boycott illegal under state law; that it unjustifiably interfered with respondent's business relations; that it violated the State's restraint of trade laws, Fla.Stat. § 542.01 et seq. (1965), F.S.A.; and that it sought to force respondent to violate its duties as a carrier under the Florida Transportation Act.7 On this basis, the court enjoined petitioners from picketing the terminal except at the FEC reserved gate, and from causing or inducing respondent's employees to cease performing their duties of employment in connection with the FEC dispute.


We consider initially petitioners' argument that the jurisdiction of the Florida court was ousted by the primary and exclusive jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board. Cf. San Diego Building Trades Council Millmen's Union, Local 2020 v. Garmon, 359 U.S. 236, 79 S.Ct. 773, 3 L.Ed.2d 775 (1959).

It is not disputed that petitioners, the respondent and its employees, and the railroads (including FEC) that use the terminal as well as their employees, are subject to the Railway Labor Act. See § 1 First, Fourth, 44 Stat. 577, as amended 45 U.S.C. § 151 First, Fourth; Interstate Commerce Act, as amended § 1(3), 24 Stat. 379, 49 U.S.C. § 1(3). The petitioner organizations 'are composed predominantly and overwhelmingly of employees * * * subject to the Railway Labor Act,' Joi t App. at 93; all pickets were members of local lodges composed solely of such employees, and were employees of the FEC. Id., at 94. However, the organizations' national membership includes a small percentage of employees who are not subject to the Railway Labor Act,8 and who may be subject to the National Labor Relations Act, 49 Stat. 449, as amended by the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947, 61 Stat. 136, 29 U.S.C. § 151 et seq. Petitioners contend that this is sufficient to bring the present dispute arguably within the NLRA, and they assert that until the National Labor Relations Board decides otherwise, no court may assume jurisdiction over the controversy. Cf. Marine Engineers Beneficial Association v. Interlake Steamship Co., 370 U.S. 173, 82 S.Ct. 1237, 8 L.Ed.2d 418 (1962).9

This argument proves too much. For on petitioners' theory, it is hard to conceive of any railway labor dispute that is not 'arguably' subject to the NLRB's primary jurisdiction. A serious question would be presented whether the parties to such a dispute were ever obligated to pursue the Railway Labor Act's procedures, and whether the Mediation and Adjustment Boards could ever concern themselves with a dispute—until the matter had first been submitted to the NLRB and that agency had determined that it lacked jurisdiction.

This was not meant to be. The NLRA came into being against the background of pre-existing comprehensive federal legislation regulating railway labor disputes. Section 2(2) and (3) of the NLRA, 29 U.S.C. § 152(2), (3), expressly exempt from the Act's coverage employees and employers subject to the Railway Labor Act.10 And when the traditional railway labor organi- zations act on behalf of employees subject to the Railway Labor Act in a dispute with carriers subject to the Railway Labor Act, the organizations must be deemed, pro tanto, exempt from the National Labor Relations Act. See NLRA § 2(5), 29 U.S.C. § 152(5). Marine Engineers, supra, is inapposite. For assuming, arguendo, that this is a 'doubtful case,' 370 U.S., at 182, 82 S.Ct., at 1243, we were not there concerned with a conflict between two independent and mutually exclusive federal labor schemes.

Whateve might be said where railway organizations act as agents for, or as joint venturers with, unions subject to the NLRA, see International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, A.F.L. C.I.O. v. NLRB, 122 U.S.App.D.C. 8, 350 F.2d 791 (1965); or where railway unions are engaged in a dispute on behalf of their nonrail employees; or where a rail carrier seeks a remedy against the conduct of nonrailway employees, see United Steelworkers of America, A.F.L.—C.I.O. v. NLRB, 376 U.S. 492, 501, 84 S.Ct. 899, 904, 11 L.Ed.2d 863 (1964); Local Union No. 25, of International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America v. New York, N.H. & H.R. Co., 350 U.S. 155, 76 S.Ct. 227, 100 L.Ed. 166 (1956), none of these is this case. This is a railway labor dispute, pure and simple. And although we shall make use of analogies drawn from the NLRA to determine the rights of employees subject to the Railway Labor Act, see infra, Parts V VII, the NLRA has no direct application to the present case.


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