Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and Station Employes v. Allen, 316

Decision Date13 May 1963
Docket NumberNo. 316,316
Citation10 L.Ed.2d 235,83 S.Ct. 1158,373 U.S. 113
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Milton Kramer, Washington, D.C., for petitioners.

Whiteford S. Blakeney, Charlotte, N.C., for respondents.

Mr. Justice BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

By the terms of an agreement (the Agreement) authorized by § 2 Eleventh of the Railway Labor Act1 between the Southern Railway Company and a number of railway labor organizations including the two petitioners herein, employees of Southern are obligated, as a condition of employment, to pay the periodic dues, initiation fees and assessments uniformly required as a condition of acquiring or retaining membership in the union representing their particular class or craft.2 The individual respondents herein are a number of such employees belonging to classes or crafts represented by petitioners.3 When the Agreement was adopted respondents were not union members. They refused to pay petitioners any part of the moneys required under the Agreement, instead bringing this action in the Superior Court of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, to restrain its enforcement.4 After a trial the Superior Court granted an injunction upon the jury's separate findings that moneys exacted under the Agreement were used by petitioners for purposes not reasonably necessary or related to collective bargaining, namely, (1) to support or oppose legislation, (2) to influence votes in elections for public office, (3) to make campaign contributions in such elections, (4) to support the death-benefits system operated by petitioner Brotherhood of Railway Clerks. The injunction restrained petitioners 'from placing any compulsion of any nature upon the (respondents) * * * whereby they * * * against their free will and choice would be required to join the Defendant Unions * * * or pay money to said Unions.' It was provided, however, that upon a showing by petitioners of the proportion of expenditures from exacted funds that was reasonably necessary and related to collective bargaining, the injunction would be modified appropriately.

On appeal, the Supreme Court of North Carolina reversed, Allen v. Southern R. Co., 249 N.C. 491, 107 S.E.2d 125, holding that judgment for petitioners was required by our decision in Railway Employes' Dept. v. Hanson, 351 U.S. 225, 76 S.Ct. 714, 100 L.Ed. 1112, where we held that § 2 Eleventh was a valid exercise by Congress of its powers under the Commerce Clause and did not violate the First Amendment or the Due Process Clause of the Fifth. However, rehearing was granted, and pending decision thereon we decided International Assn. of Machinists v. Street, 367 U.S. 740, 81 S.Ct. 1784, 6 L.Ed.2d 1141. Upon reconsideration of the Superior Court's judgment in the light of that decision, the Supreme Court of North Carolina divided equally, which had the effect of affirming the lower court's judgment. 256 N.C. 700, 124 S.E.2d 871 (per curiam); see Schoenith v. Town & Country Realty Co., 244 N.C. 601, 94 S.E.2d 592 (per curiam); Ward v. O'Dell Mfg. Co., 126 N.C. 946, 36 S.E. 194. We granted certiorari, 371 U.S. 875, 83 S.Ct. 147, 9 L.Ed.2d 113, to consider whether the injunction granted by the Superior Court might stand consistently with our decision in Street. We reverse and remand for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

First. We held in Street 'that § 2, Eleventh is to be construed to deny the unions, over an employee's objection, the power to use his exacted funds to support political causes which he opposes.' 367 U.S., at 768—769, 81 S.Ct., at 1800, 6 L.Ed.2d 1141. Respondents' amended complaint alleges that sums exacted under the Agreement 'have been and are and will be regularly and continually used by the defendant Unions to carry on, finance and pay for political activities directly at cross-purposes with the free will and choice of the plaintiffs.' This allegation sufficiently states a cause of action. It would be impracticable to require a dissenting employee to allege and prove each distinct union political expenditure to which he objects; it is enough that he manifests his opposition to any political expenditures by the union.5 But we made clear in Street that 'dissent is not to be presumed—it must affirmatively be made known to the union by the dissenting employee.' 367 U.S., at 774, 81 S.Ct., at 1803, 6 L.Ed.2d 1141.6 At trial, only 14 of the respondents testified that they objected to the use of exacted sums for political causes. No respondent who does not in the course of the further proceedings in this case prove that he objects to such use will be entitled to relief. This is not and cannot be a class action. See note 4, supra. 'The union receiving money exacted from an employee under a union-shop agreement should not in fairness be subjected to sanctions in favor of an employee who makes no complaint of the use of his money for such activities.' 367 U.S., at 774, 81 S.Ct., at 1803, 6 L.Ed.2d 1141.

Second. We also held in Street that an injunction relieving dissenting employees of all obligation to pay the moneys due under an agreement authorized by § 2 Eleventh was impermissible. Such employees 'remain obliged, as a condition of continued employment, to make the payments to their respective unions called for by the agreement. Their * * * grievance stems from the spending of their funds for purposes not authorized by the Act in the face of their objection, not from the enforcement of the union-shop agreement by the mere collection of funds.' 367 U.S., at 771, 81 S.Ct., at 1801, 6 L.Ed.2d 1141. The injunction granted by the Superior Court was thus improper, even though it is subject to modification if petitioners come forward and prove the proportion of exacted funds required for purposes germane to collective bargaining. Even such a remedy, we think, 'sweeps too broadly * * * (and) might well interfere with the * * * unions' performance of those functions and duties which the Railway Labor Act places upon them to attain its goal of stability in the industry.' Ibid.

It also follows from Street that the Superior Court erred in granting respondents interim relief against compliance with the financial obligations imposed by the Agreement. As a result of this relief none of the respondents has taken any steps toward compliance since the suit was instituted. We think that lest the important functions of labor organizations under the Railway Labor Act be unduly impaired, dissenting employees (at least in the absence of special circumstances not shown here) can be entitled to no relief until final judgment in their favor is entered. Therefore, on remand respondents should be given a reasonable time within which they must pay to the bargaining representative of their class or craft all sums required under the Agreement, including arrears, that are owing; as to any respondent failing to do this, the action must be dismissed.

Third. We suggested in Street that among the permissible remedies for dissenting employees were 'an injunction against expenditure for political causes opposed by each complaining employee of a sum, from those moneys to be spent by the union for political purposes, which is so much of the moneys exacted from him as is the proportion of the union's total expenditures made for such political activities to the union's total budget,' and restitution of such a sum already exacted from the complainant and expended by the union over his objection. 367 U.S., at 774—775, 81 S.Ct., at 1803, 6 L.Ed.2d 1141. The necessary predicate for such remedies is a division of the union's political expenditures from those germane to collective bargaining, since only the former, to the extent made from exacted funds of dissenters, are not authorized by § 2 Eleventh. But at trial no evidence was offered by either side, nor was the jury required to make findings, as to the total amount of union expenditures for political purposes, the breakdown of the total union budget according to particular kinds of expenditure, or the proportion of political expenditures in the total union budget of a given period.7 On remand, in order to frame a decree embodying the suggested remedies, two determinations will have to be made: (1) what expenditures disclosed by the record are political; (2) what percentage of total union expenditures are political expenditures. As to (1) we presently intimate no view, see note 7, supra, because here, as in Street, see 367 U.S., at 768—770, 81 S.Ct., at 1799—1801, 6 L.Ed.2d 1141, the courts below made no attempt to draw the boundary between political expenditures and those germane to collective bargaining, and it would be inappropriate for this Court to do so in the first instance and upon the present record. As to (2) the present record is insufficient to enable any calculation.

Since the unions possess the facts and records from which the proportion of political to total union expenditures can reasonably be calculated, basic considerations of fairness compel that they, not the individual employees, bear the burden of proving such proportion. Absolute precision in the calculation of such proportion is not, of course, to be expected or required; we are mindful of the difficult accounting problems that may arise. And no decree would be proper which appeared likely to infringe the unions' right to expend uniform exactions under the union-shop agreement in support of activities germane to collective bargaining and, as well, to expend nondissenters' such exactions in support of political activities.

Fourth. While adhering to the principles governing remedy which we announced in Street, see 367 U.S., at 771—775, 81 S.Ct., at 1801—1803, 6 L.Ed.2d 1141, we think it appropriate to suggest, in addition, a practical decree to...

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