General Committee of Adjustment of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers For Pacific Lines of Southern Pac Co v. Southern Pac Co General Grievance Committee of Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen v. General Committee of Adjustment of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers For Pacific Lines of Southern Pac Co, s. 27 and 41

Decision Date22 November 1943
Docket NumberNos. 27 and 41,s. 27 and 41
Citation88 L.Ed. 85,64 S.Ct. 142,320 U.S. 338
PartiesGENERAL COMMITTEE OF ADJUSTMENT OF BROTHERHOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS FOR PACIFIC LINES OF SOUTHERN PAC. CO. v. SOUTHERN PAC. CO. et al. GENERAL GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE OF BROTHERHOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE FIREMEN AND ENGINEMEN v. GENERAL COMMITTEE OF ADJUSTMENT OF BROTHERHOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS FOR PACIFIC LINES OF SOUTHERN PAC. CO. et al
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Messrs. Clarence E. Weisell, of Cleveland, Ohio, and George M. Naus, of San Francisco, Cal., for General Committee of Adjustment of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, etc.

Mr. Burton Mason, of San Francisco, Cal., for Southern Pacific Co.

Mr. Donald R. Richberg, of Washington, D.C., for General Grievance Committee of Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

These are companion cases to General Committee of Adjustment of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers v. Missouri-Kansas-Texas R. Co., 320 U.S. 323, 64 S.Ct. 146, and Switchmen's Union of North America v. National Mediation Board, 320 U.S. 297, 64 S.Ct. 95, decided this day. They are here on a petition and on a cross-petition for writs of certiorari to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. No. 41, the cross-petition, involves a dispute between the collective bargaining representatives of the locomotive engineers and of the locomotive firemen on the Pacific lines of the Southern Pacific Co. The controversy involves the same basic question as is present in the Missouri-Kansas-Texas R. Co. case. The committee for the engineers (hereinafter called the Engineers) brought this action for a declaratory judgment that provisions of a June, 1939 agreement between the carrier and the committee for the firemen (hereinafter called the Firemen) concerning the demotion of engineers to firemen and the calling of firemen for service as emergency engineers were invalid under the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq. The courts below undertook to resolve the controversy. See 132 F.2d 194, 202—206. For the reasons stated in the Missouri-Kansas-Texas R. Co. case we think that the questions are not justiciable issues under the Railway Labor Act.

The question presented in No. 27 is related to the questions in the other two cases. In the suit brought by the Engineers (No. 41) a declaratory judgment was also asked that Article 51, Sec. 1 of the collective bargaining agreement between the carrier and the Firemen was invalid under the Railway Labor Act. That section provides: 'The right of any engineer, fireman, hostler or hostler helper to have the regularly constituted committee of his organization represent him in the handling of his grievances, in accordance with the laws of his organization and under the recognized interpretation of the General Committee making the schedule, involved, is conceded.'

The question whether the Engineers were the exclusive representatives of engineers in the handling of their individual grievances was the subject of dispute by the Engineers with this carrier and also with the Firemen. It was one of several subjects on which the Firemen had a strike ballot taken in 1937. Following the vote to strike, the President appointed an Emergency Board1 under § 10 of the Act to investigate and report on this and other disputes. The Board reported in 1937. The dispute has continued to date.

The Engineers and the Firemen are the majority representatives of their respective crafts under the Act. The Engineers contend that the Firemen have no right to represent men working as engineers in the handling of individual grievances involving an interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement which the Engineers ne- gotiated. Their position is that under the Act they are the exclusive representative of the individual engineer in that class of disputes which he has with the carrier as well as the exclusive representative of the craft for purposes of collective bargaining. The District Court refused to declare that the inclusion of the word 'engineer' in Article 51, Sec. 1 of the agreement was unlawful under the Act. The Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that judgment. 132 F.2d 194—202.

The Engineers place their chief reliance on those provisions of § 2, Fourth, which state: (1) that employees 'shall have the right to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing'; and (2) that the 'majority of any craft or class of employees shall have the right to determine who shall be the representative of the craft or class for the purposes of this Act'. And it is pointed out that by reason of § 2, Eighth the provisions of § 2, Fourth become a part of each contract of employment. Some support is also sought from § 2 Second and Sixth. The former provides that 'all disputes' between a carrier and its employees shall be considered in conference between representatives of the parties. The latter provision says that in case of a dispute as to grievances 'it shall be the duty of the designated representative' of the carrier and of the employees to specify a time and place for a conference. From these provisions it is argued that the collective bargaining representative of a craft becomes the exclusive representative for all purposes of the Act—the protection of the individual's as well as the carft's interests. On the other hand, the carrier and the Firemen contend that the Act limits the exclusive representation of the collective bargaining agent to the interests of the craft. They contend that this is the true meaning of § 2, Fourth. They also rely on § 3, First (i) which states that prior to a reference of disputes between employees and carriers to the Adjustment Board they 'shall be handled in the usual manner up to and including the chief operating officer of the carrier designated to handle such disputes.' They claim that 'usual manner' means the prior practice and that that shows a uniform...

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