Burlington Truck Lines, Inc v. United States General Drivers and Helpers Union, Local 554 v. United States, s. 27

Decision Date03 December 1962
Docket NumberNos. 27,28,s. 27
Citation371 U.S. 156,83 S.Ct. 239,9 L.Ed.2d 207
PartiesBURLINGTON TRUCK LINES, INC., et al., Appellants, v. UNITED STATES et al. GENERAL DRIVERS AND HELPERS UNION, LOCAL 554, etc., Appellant, v. UNITED STATES et al
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

[Syllabus from pages 156-158 intentionally omitted] David Axelrod, Chicago, Ill., for appellants in No. 27.

David D. Weinberg, Omaha, Neb., for appellants in No. 28.

Robert W. Ginnane, Washington, D.C., for appellees United States and Interstate Commerce Commission.

J. Max Harding, Lincoln, Neb., for appellee Nebraska Short Line Carriers, Inc.

Mr. Justice WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

These are direct appeals under 28 U.S.C. § 1253, 28 U.S.C.A. § 1253 from the judgment of a three-judge District Court, 194 F.Supp. 31 (S.D.Ill.), which upheld an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission, 79 M.C.C. 599, granting a motor common carrier application. This Court noted probable jurisdiction because of important questions raised as to the relationship and interplay between remedies available under the Interstate Commerce Act and under the National Labor Relations Act as amended by the Labor Management Relations Act. 49 U.S.C.A. § 1 et seq.; 29 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq., 368 U.S. 951, 82 S.Ct. 393, 7 L.Ed.2d 385.

Appellee Nebraska Short Line Carriers, Inc., is a Nebraska corporation, organized in June 1956. All of its stock is owned by 12 motor carriers serving eastern and central Nebraska and interchanging interstate traffic at Omaha and other gateway points with over 20 larger trunk-line carriers, among whom are the appellant carriers, with whom throughroute, joint-rate, interline arrangements have been established. Some of the stockholder carriers serve Nebraska communities without other motor carrier or rail service.

For some time prior to May 1956, the stockholder carriers had resisted efforts by the Teamsters Union too unionize their operations. Eventually, the union sought to bring economic pressure to bear upon the stockholder carriers by a secondary boycott against their traffic through the larger, unionized, trunk-line carriers upon whom the stockholder carriers were dependent for interchanging traffic to and from points beyond Nebraska. The collective bargaining contract between the trunkline carriers and the union contained protection of rights or so-called 'hot cargo' clauses which reserved to the union and its members 'the right to refuse to handle goods from or to any firm or truck' involved in any controversy with the union and provided that it should not be a cause for discharge if an employee of the carrier refused to handle 'unfair' goods.1

In May 1956, some of the stockholder carriers began experiencing difficulties in receiving and delivering freight from and to many of their normal and logical connections at Omaha and, to some extent, at Sioux City, Lincoln, and Grand Island. The difficulty consisted primarily of the refusal on the part of many of the larger carriers to accept interline traffic tendered to them by the stockholder carriers and the refusal to turn over to them inbound traffic routed over their lines or normally turned over to them for delivery to ultimate destinations in Nebraska. The stockholder carriers, shippers, and consignees thus experienced considerable delay, inconvenience, and unforeseen expense in the movement of traffic to and from interior Nebraska points. At the same time, however, some of the larger interlining carriers, particularly appellants Burlington Truck Lines, Inc., and Santa Fe Trail Transportation Company, generally maintained normal interline relationships with the stockholder carriers.

The stockholder carriers thereupon organized Short Line and on June 22, 1956, Short Line filed an application with the Interstate Commerce Commission for common carrier authority to transport commodities on a regularly scheduled basis between certain Nebraska and Iowa points and points in other States. A further application for operating authority over irregular routes between Omaha and points in 32 different States was filed six months later. The applications were assigned to two different examiners, each of whom recommended that the application before him be denied. The Commission stated that 'the pertinent facts are accurately and adequately stated' in the examiners' reports and adopted the statements as its own (79 M.C.C., at 605, 608), but it concluded that the first application should be granted in part.2 The Commission found that although service in the area was satisfactory before May 1956, after that date the union-induced boycott of the stockholder carriers caused 'a substantial disruption' and 'serious inadequacies in the service available.' 79 M.C.C., at 612, 613. Accordingly, it found that grant of Short Line's application was required by 'the present and future public convenience and necessity.' Id., at 613. The Commission declared that it was not attempting to adjudicate a labor dispute or trench upon the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board, and it conceded its lack of jurisdiction to look beyond the duties of carriers to the public under the terms of the Interstate Commerce Act. Id., at 611. It strongly criticized the carrier appellants for yielding to union secondary boycott demands, however, and it declared that the carriers' failure to fulfill their duties as common carriers was particularly inexcusable since there had been no violence or imminent threats of danger to property or person. The Commission expressed the opinion that alleged 'apprehensions of certain of the organized carriers that any opposition to the demands of the union would have resulted in reprisals against them' were 'greatly exaggerated,' and it noted that some of the interlining carriers had successfully continued to deal with the stockholder carriers, with at least one of them encountering no difficulties with its employees when it changed its policy and carried out its statutory duties as a common carrier and interlined with the Short Line carriers.3 Id., at 612.

Finally, the Commission considered the remedy appropriate to the situation. Short Line had applied for operating authority under § 207 (certificates of public convenience and necessity). As the Commission noted, the Act provides other means of correcting deficiencies of service. Section 204(c) empowers the Commission to order carriers to comply with the transportation laws, and the Commission may act upon complaint or upon its own motion without complaint, in each case after notice and hearing, and sanctions are available to enforce its orders;4 § 212(a) empowers the Commission to suspend certificates for failure to comply with duties under the Act. The Commission proceeded to dispose of the remedy problem in the following manner:

'We do not agree with those of the parties who insist that the procedure here adopted; namely, the filing of the instant applications under the provisions of section 207 of the act, is in any manner inappropriate. Regardless of the injection of the labor situation into the matter, the instant applications are based upon claimed deficiencies in the motor service available to the shipping public of Nebraska. Where, as here, the existing carriers are shown to have so conducted their operations as to result in serious inadequacies in the service available to a large section of the public, one effective method of correcting the situation is by the granting of authority for sufficient additional service, and, in fact, we are charged with the duty of procuring such additional facilities as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of the national transportation policy. The fact that other remedies are available, such as the suggested filing of complaints by the aggrieved carriers and shippers does not alter the situation or deprive any carrier of the right to follow the course here chosen.' Id., at 613.

The Commission therefore granted the application.5

The protesting carriers and the affected union sought judicial review before a three-judge District Court (28 U.S.C. §§ 1336, 1398, 2321—2325, 28 U.S.C.A. §§ 1336, 1398, 2321—2325), which upheld the order as within the scope of the Commission's statutory authority, based on adequate findings, and supported by substantial evidence. 194 F.Supp. 31. The court reviewed the evidence and concluded that although there was 'no doubt that their (the protesting carriers') ability to perform service prior to May 195(6) was adequate,' the record showed that union pressure made it inadequate thereafter. 194 F.Supp. at 45. The court recognized that a cease-and-desist order might have been utilized, but stated that additional certification was also a permissible remedy which was not made unavailable merely because the reason for inadequacy of service was that 'existing carriers (were) subordinating their public service obligations to their collective bargaining agreements.' Id., at 54.

In regard to the choice of remedy, the court rejected the contention that the passage of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, which added § 8(e) to the National Labor Relations Act, as amended by the Labor Management Relations Act, 73 Stat. 543, 29 U.S.C. (Supp. III) § 158(e), 29 U.S.C.A. § 158(e), some four months after the entry of the order, mooted the case by making the union activities in inducing the organized carriers to boycott the Short Line stockholder carriers illegal and therefore unlikely to be resumed. The District Court expressed doubts as to whether § 8(e) 'effectively outlaws 'hot cargo' clauses,' and maintained that, even if it did, the Commission's order should still stand. Id., at 58. To the union's contention that grant of a certificate here injected the Interstate Commerce Commission into the province of the National Labor Relations Board, or at least undercut to some extent the policies of § 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, the...

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