General Committee of Adjustment of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers Forr v. Co

Decision Date22 November 1943
Docket NumberNo. 23,MISSOURI-KANSAS-TEXAS,23
Citation64 S.Ct. 146,320 U.S. 323,88 L.Ed. 76
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Messrs. John W. Madden, Jr., of Dallas, Tex., and Harold N. McLaughlin, of Cleveland, Ohio, for petitioner.

Mr. Harold C. Heiss, of Cleveland, Ohio, for respondent General Grievance Committee of Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen & Enginemen.

Mr. Lucian Touchstone, of Dallas, Tex., for respondent Missouri-Kansas-Texas R. Co. and others.

[Argument of Counsel from page 324 intentionally omitted] Mr. Justice DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case involves a dispute under the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq., concerning the authority of two railroad Brotherhoods to represent certain employees in collective bargaining with the defendant-carriers. The petitioner (hereinafter called the Engineers) is a committee of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers which has been and is the duly designated bargaining representative for the craft of engineers employed by the carriers. The third-party defendant (hereinafter called the Firemen) is a committee of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen which has been and is the duly designated bargaining representative for the craft of firemen on the same lines. Each craft has long had an agreement with the carriers concerning rules, rates of pay, and working conditions. The agreement with the Engineers states that the right to make and interpret contracts, rules, rates and working agreements for locomotive engineers is vested in that committee. The agreement with the Firemen contains a similar provision concerning members of that craft. Both agreements also contain rules governing the demotion of engineers to be firemen, the promotion of firemen to be engineers, and return of demoted engineers to their former work.1 For many years the two Brotherhoods had an agreement which established rules and regulations on these subjects and which provided machinery for resolving disputes which might arise between them. This agreement was cancelled in 1927. The present dispute arose since that time and relates to the calling of engineers for emergency service. In general the Engineers and the carriers had a working arrangement providing (1) that, excepting Smithville, Texas, the senior available demoted engineer whose home terminal was at the place where the service was required or the man assigned to the particular run as fireman, if he had greater seniority as engineer, would be chosen when it was necessary to call an engineer for emergency service; (2) that the regulation of the engineers' working lists was to be handled by the Engineer's local chairman, not by the management; and (3) that at Smithville, emergency work would be performed by advancing the assignment of engineers in the so-called 'pool',2 instead of calling in emergency engineers. These arrangements were not satisfactory to the Firemen. After protest to the carriers and after a failure of the Brotherhoods to resolve their dispute the matter was submitted to the National Mediation Board for mediation. The engineers did not participate. The Firemen and the carriers entered into the Mediation Agreement of December 12, 1940, the validity of which is here challenged. The effect of that agreement was in general to eliminate the preference previously given to engineers of the home terminal and the special arrangement at Smithville in favor of the pool engineers. It also changed the practice respecting the handling of the engineers' working lists— thereafter the assignments would be handled by the management assisted by the local chairmen of the two groups. After making the agreement the carriers gave notice to the Engineers that they were cancelling previous arrangements with that Brotherhood.

The Engineers then brought this action for a declaratory judgment, 48 Stat. 955, 28 U.S.C. § 400, 28 U.S.C.A. § 400, that the agreement of December 12, 1940, was in violation of the Railway Labor Act, 44 Stat. 577, 48 Stat. 1185, 45 U.S.C. § 151 et seq., 45 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq., and that the Engineers should be declared to be the sole representative of the locomotive engineers with the exclusive right to bargain for them. The carriers in their answer prayed that the court declare the respective rights of the parties. And the Firemen, though challenging the jurisdiction of the court, in the alternative asked that the agreement of December 12, 1940, be declared valid. The District Court dismissed the petition, holding that the carriers had a right to contract with either of the crafts with reference to the problems in question. The Circuit Court of Appeals held that both crafts were interested in the subject matter of the dispute, that neither craft had an exclusive right to bargain concerning the matters in issue, that the representatives of both crafts should confer and if possible agree, and that the agreement of December 12, 1940, might be terminated by the carriers if not acquiesced in by the Engineers, 5 Cir., 132 F.2d 91.

The case is here on a petition for certiorari which we granted because of the importance of the problems raised by the assumption of jurisdiction over such controversies by the federal courts.

The bulk of the argument here relates to the merits of the dispute. But we do not intimate an opinion concerning them. For we are of the view that the District Court was without power to resolve the controversy.

It is our view that the issues tendered by the present litigation are not justiciable—that is to say that Congress by this Act has foreclosed resort to the courts for enforcement of the claims asserted by the parties.

The history of this legislation has been traced in earlier cases coming before this Court. See Pennsylvania R. Co. v. United States Railroad Labor Board, 261 U.S. 72, 43 S.Ct. 278, 67 L.Ed. 536; Pennsylvania Railroad System & Allied Lines Federation No. 90 v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 267 U.S. 203, 45 S.Ct. 307, 69 L.Ed. 574; Texas & N.O.R. Co. v. Brotherhood of Ry. & Steamship Clerks, 281 U.S. 548, 50 S.Ct. 427, 74 L.Ed. 1034; Virginian Ry. Co. v. System Federation No. 40, 300 U.S. 515, 57 S.Ct. 592, 81 L.Ed. 789. The present Act is the product of some fifty years of evolution.3 For many years the only sanctions under the various Congressional enactments in this field were publicity and public opinion. A conspicuous example concerns the Railroad Labor Board, constituted under the Transportation Act of 1920, 41 Stat. 356. It had important functions to perform. But this Court held in the Federation No. 90 case, 267 U.S. 203 45 S.Ct. 307, 69 L.Ed. 574, that the Board's decisions were not supported by any legal sanctions. The parties to the labor controversies covered by the Act were not 'in any way to be forced into compliance with the statute or with the judgments pronounced by the Labor Board, except through the effect of adverse public opinion.' Id., 267 U.S. at page 216, 45 S.Ct. at page 311, 69 L.Ed. 574. The 1926 Act, 44 Stat. 577, made a basic change in the pattern of the railway labor legislation which had preceded.4 Conciliatory means were adhered to; provisions for mediation and arbitration were adopted; and the use of that machinery on a voluntary basis was encouraged.5 But Congress also supported its policy with the imposition of some rules of conduct for breach of which the courts afford a sanction. Thus Congress stated in § 2, Fourth, of the 1926 Act that the choice by employees of their collective bargaining representatives should be free from the carriers' coercion and influence. That 'definite statutory prohibition of conduct which would thwart the declared purpose' of the Act was held by this Court in the Clerks case to be enforcible in an appropriate suit. 281 U.S. 548, 568, 50 S.Ct. 427, 433, 74 L.Ed. 1034. As stated by Chief Justice Hughes in that case:

'Freedom of choice in the selection of representatives on each side of the dispute is the essential foundation of the statutory scheme. All the proceedings looking to amicable adjustments and to agreements for arbitration of disputes, the entire policy of the act, must depend for success on the uncoerced action of each party through its own representatives to the end that agreements satisfactory to both may be reached and the peace essential to the uninterrupted service of the instrumentalities of interstate commerce may be maintained. There is no impairment of the voluntary character of arrangements for the adjustment of disputes in the imposition of a legal obligation not to interfere with the free choice of those who are to make such adjustments. On the contrary, it is of the essence of a voluntary scheme, if it is to accomplish its purpose, that this liberty should be safeguarded. The definite prohibition which Congress inserted in the act can not therefore be overridden in the view that Congress intended it to be ignored. As the prohibition was appropriate to the aim of Congress, and is capable of enforcement, the conclusion must be that enforcement was contemplated.' 281 U.S. at page 569, 50 S.Ct. at page 433, 74 L.Ed. 1034.

Thus what had long been a 'right' of employees enforcible only by strikes and other methods of industrial warfare emerged as a 'right' enforcible by judicial decree. The right of collective bargaining was no longer dependent on economic power alone.

Further protection was accorded that right by the amendments which were added in 1934. Thus § 2, Ninth, provided machinery strengthening the representation provisions of the Act. H. Rep. No. 1944, 73d Cong., 2d Sess., p. 2. That new provision gave the National Mediation Board an adjudicatory function in the settlement of representation disputes. It provided for a reference to that Board of representation disputes arising among a carrier's employees. It charged the Board with the 'duty'...

To continue reading

Request your trial
185 cases
  • National Mut Ins Co of District of Columbia v. Tidewater Transfer Co Inc
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • June 20, 1949
    ...Mediation Board, 320 U.S. 297, 64 S.Ct. 95, 88 L.Ed. 61; General Committee of Adjustment of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers for Missouri-Kansas-Texas R.R. v. Missouri-Kansas-Texas R. Co., 320 U.S. 323, 64 S.Ct. 146, 88 L.Ed. 76. Neither the Austrian nor the Beeler case meets these tests......
  • United States v. United Mine Workers of America Same v. Lewis, John United Mine Workers of America v. United States Lewis, John v. Same United Mine Workers of America v. Same
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • March 6, 1947
    ...321 U.S. 50, 64 S.Ct. 413, 88 L.Ed. 534, 150 A.L.R. 810; General Committee of Adjustment of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers for Missouri-Kansas-Texas R. Co. v. Missouri-Kansas-Texas R. Co., 320 U.S. 323, 64 S.Ct. 146, 88 L.Ed. 76. On the whole that policy and the sanctions provided have......
  • Stark v. Wickard
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • February 28, 1944 to which is the proper bargaining representative of certain employees is not justiciable in federal courts. General Committee v. M.-K.-T.R. Co., 320 U.S. 323, 64 S.Ct. 146. Under the same Act it was held on the same date that the determination by the National Mediation Board of the parti......
  • Switchmen Union of North America v. National Mediation Board
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • November 22, 1943
    ...226, 232—237, 58 S.Ct. 601, 604—606, 82 L.Ed. 764. As is indicated at some length in General Commit- tee of Adjustment v. Missouri-Kansas-Texas R. Co., 320 U.S. 323, 64 S.Ct. 146, decided this day, the emergence of railway labor problems from the field of conciliation and mediation into tha......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • When Divorce Mediation Undesirably Breeds More Litigation
    • United States
    • Hawaii State Bar Association Hawai’i Bar Journal No. 26-11, November 2022
    • Invalid date
    ...Committee of Adjustment of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers for Missouri-Kansas-Texas R.R. v. Missouri-Kansas-Texas R. Co. et. al., 320 U.S. 323, 337 (1943). Relatively (and figuratively) speaking, we posit that litigation is akin to an ailment, and mediation is the treatment, if not, th......
    • United States
    • State Bar of Arizona Employment Law Handbook Chapter 2 Traditional Labor Law Article 2.4 Railway Labor Act
    • Invalid date
    ...results of the election.--------Notes:[19] Switchmen's Union v. NMB, 320 U.S. 297 (1943); Gen. Comm. of Adjustment v. Missouri-K.T.R.R., 320 U.S. 323 (1943); Gen. Comm. of Adjustment v. S. Pac. Co., 320 U.S. 338 (1943). [20] 45 U.S.C. §...

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT