Csx Transp., Inc. v. Transportation

Decision Date28 March 2007
Docket NumberNo. 06-1414.,06-1414.
Citation480 F.3d 678
PartiesCSX TRANSPORTATION, INCORPORATED, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. TRANSPORTATION COMMUNICATIONS INTERNATIONAL UNION; United Transportation Union, Defendants-Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit

ARGUED: Ronald Maurice Johnson, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, L.L.P., Washington, D.C., for Appellant. John A. Edmond, Guerrieri, Edmond, Clayman & Bartos, P.C., Washington, D.C., for Appellees. ON BRIEF: Nilufer Loy, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, L.L.P., Washington, D.C., for Appellant. Soye Kim, Guerrieri, Edmond, Clayman & Bartos, P.C., Washington, D.C., for Appellee Transportation Communications International Union.

Before MICHAEL and SHEDD, Circuit Judges, and DAVID A. FABER, Chief United States District Judge for the Southern District of West Virginia, sitting by designation.

Affirmed by published opinion. Judge FABER wrote the opinion, in which Judge MICHAEL and Judge SHEDD joined.

OPINION

FABER, Chief District Judge:

Appellant CSX Transportation, Inc., ("CSXT") appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment to appellee Transportation Communications International Union ("TCU") and denial of summary judgment to CSXT in a labor dispute case. CSXT brought suit to vacate several arbitration awards issued by the National Railroad Adjustment Board ("NRAB") in favor of TCU. CSXT argued that the NRAB did not have jurisdiction to resolve those disputes; rather, CSXT claimed that the Surface Transportation Board ("STB") (formerly known as the Interstate Commerce Commission1 ("ICC")) had exclusive jurisdiction over the matter. We affirm the judgment of the district court.

I.

CSXT is a large railway carrier that is the product of various railroad mergers and consolidations. Pursuant to the Interstate Commerce Act, 49 U.S.C. § 11322(a), the ICC approved these mergers. The Interstate Commerce Act grants the STB the "exclusive authority to examine, condition, and approve proposed mergers and consolidations." CSX Transp. Inc. v. United Transp. Union, 86 F.3d 346, 349 (4th Cir.1996) (quoting Norfolk & W. Ry. Co. v. Am. Train Dispatchers Ass'n, 499 U.S. 117, 119, 111 S.Ct. 1156, 113 L.Ed.2d 95 (1991)). Before railway carriers can merge, the Interstate Commerce Act requires them to "establish protective conditions for employees who are adversely affected by a consolidation." Id. at 348; 49 U.S.C. § 11326. These protective conditions were outlined by the ICC in New York Dock Railway-Control Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal, 360 I.C.C. 60, 1979 WL 11091 (1979), aff'd sub nom., New York Dock Railway v. United States, 609 F.2d 83 (2d Cir.1979), and are known as the "New York Dock conditions." See Norfolk & W. Ry. Co., 499 U.S. at 120, 111 S.Ct. 1156.

In 1990, CSXT decided to capitalize on merger efficiencies by establishing a centralized customer service center in Jacksonville, Florida. Its plan was to transfer certain customer service functions that were performed by clerical employees to the customer service center. Before CSXT could transfer these employees from various transportation service centers to the centralized customer service center, it had to comply with the New York Dock conditions, according to which the creation of the customer service center was a covered transaction. See New York Dock, 360 I.C.C. at 77. The New York Dock conditions apply to any "transaction which may cause the dismissal or displacement of any employees, or rearrangement of forces" as a result of a change in a railroad's "operations, services, facilities, or equipment." Id.

Article I, Section 4 of the New York Dock conditions requires that a railroad contemplating such changes provide advanced notice to affected employees and their representatives. Id. This provision also requires that the railroad carrier and the unions enter into an agreement, known as a New York Dock Implementing Agreement, to govern the covered transaction. Id. at 77-78. If the parties fail to reach such an agreement, they are required to submit the dispute to arbitration before the proposed changes can take place. Id. at 78.

In accordance with the New York Dock conditions, CSXT served a New York Dock notice on TCU, the union representing the transferred clerical workers. On January 29, 1991, CSXT and TCU consequently entered into a New York Dock Implementing Agreement which provided detailed information on how the transfer would take place. The Implementing Agreement stated that the clerical work transfers were to be progressively phased in over a 36-month period ending in March, 1994. It also provided that work remaining at the transportation service centers and work transferred to the customer service center would continue to be performed under the respective general collective bargaining agreements already in place. The collective bargaining agreement that applied to the new customer service representative positions created at the customer service center was known as the TCU-SCL Agreement. In addition, the Implementing Agreement expressly incorporated the New York Dock conditions. Article 1, Section 11 of the New York Dock conditions provides for arbitration "in the event a railroad and its employees or their authorized representatives cannot settle any dispute or controversy with respect to the interpretation, application or enforcement" of the New York Dock conditions. New York Dock, 360 I.C.C. at 80.

Shortly after CSXT and TCU signed the Implementing Agreement, disputes arose between them about work assignments. TCU asserted that employees not covered by the TCU-SCL Agreement were performing tasks that belonged to the customer service representatives at the customer service center. TCU maintained that this violated the TCU-SCL Agreement, which contains a scope rule that defines the types of positions and types of work covered and provides that "[p]ositions or work covered under this Rule 1 shall not be removed from such coverage except by agreement ...." CSXT maintained that the disputed tasks were "shared functions" that had never been exclusively assigned to the clerical employees covered by the TCU-SCL Agreement.

Neither CSXT nor TCU invoked the New York Dock arbitration procedures incorporated into the Implementing Agreement to resolve these disputes. Instead, the parties entered into a comprehensive agreement on December 1, 1994, pursuant to the grievance procedures in the TCU-SCL Agreement, which are governed not by the Interstate Commerce Act, but by the Railway Labor Act. This Agreement resolved the disputes at all but three locations.

In order to resolve their remaining disputes, CSXT and TCU established a Public Law Board, a voluntary alternative dispute resolution forum for disputes referable to the NRAB. 45 U.S.C. § 153 Second. In 1997, neutral Public Law Board member R.E. Dennis sustained TCU's position in five separate decisions. CSXT never sought to have these claims arbitrated pursuant to the New York Dock arbitration procedures incorporated into the Implementing Agreement.

After the Public Law Board arbitrations, TCU continued to file numerous claims against CSXT. In stating its claims, TCU cited both the terms of the Implementing Agreement, as evidence that the work was transferred, as well as the Scope Rule of the TCU-SCL Agreement. When these claims were not resolved through on-the-property grievance procedures, CSXT consolidated the claims into fifty-seven cases that were submitted to the Third Division of the NRAB.2

Neutral Arbitrator Edwin Benn determined that in order to prevail, TCU would first have to show that the disputed tasks (1) were performed by someone other than a customer service representative at the customer service center; (2) were performed by a clerical worker at the specific location in dispute before the 1991 Implementing Agreement took effect; and (3) were performed by a customer service representative at the customer service center after the 1991 Implementing Agreement took effect. CSX Transp., Inc. v. TCU, Award No. 37227, NRAB Third Div., 15 (2004) (Benn, Arb.). Arbitrator Benn concluded that if TCU succeeded in making all three showings, it would have established that the disputed tasks were transferred to the customer service center by virtue of the Implementing Agreement, and thus fell under the TCU-SCL Agreement. Any work covered by the TCU-SCL Agreement's Scope Rule could not be removed from the customer service representatives at the customer service center without separate agreement. Thus, if employees who were not customer service representatives at the customer service center were performing the covered work without a separate agreement, CSXT would be violating the TCU-SCL Agreement. Using this framework, Arbitrator Benn sustained TCU's claims in eight of ten awards. Several months after these awards were issued, the Carrier members of the NRAB filed a dissent ("Carrier dissent"), claiming that because the disputes could not be resolved without interpreting the Implementing Agreement, the NRAB did not have jurisdiction to adjudicate them.

Following the Benn awards, TCU submitted another claim against CSXT to the Third Division of the NRAB. Arbitrator Elizabeth Wesman served as the neutral arbitrator. After the hearing, but before issuance of the award, CSXT submitted the Carrier dissent to Wesman and asserted that the NRAB lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the present claim because it, too, required interpretation of the Implementing Agreement. Applying Arbitrator Benn's analysis, Wesman sustained TCU's claim. Without explanation, she also found that the NRAB had jurisdiction over the dispute.

On February 11, 2005, the same day that the Carrier dissent to the Benn awards was filed, CSXT filed a petition in federal court to vacate the Benn awards on the grounds that the NRAB had exceeded its jurisdiction in deciding the claims. TCU filed a counterclaim, seeking to enforce the...

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