Maine Central R. Co. v. BMWE, Civ. No. 86-0311 P.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Court (Maine)
Citation657 F. Supp. 971
Docket NumberCiv. No. 86-0311 P.
PartiesThe MAINE CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY, and the Portland Terminal Company, Plaintiffs, v. BROTHERHOOD OF MAINTENANCE OF WAY EMPLOYES, and National Mediation Board, Defendants.
Decision Date31 March 1987


John Spelman, Philadelphia, Pa., Charles S. Einsiedler, Jr., Portland, Me., for plaintiffs.

John O'B. Clarke, Jr., Washington, D.C., Craig J. Rancourt, Biddeford, Me., for defendant Broth.

David R. Collins, Asst. U.S. Atty., Portland, Me., Thomas Millet, Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., for defendant Nat. Mediation Bd.


GENE CARTER, District Judge.

This case is before the Court for a decision on the merits regarding the constitutionality of a special act of Congress, Pub.L. 99-431, 100 Stat. 987 (Sept. 30, 1986), which effectively ended the long labor dispute between Plaintiffs, Maine Central Railroad Company and Portland Terminal Company (the Railroad), and Defendant Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes1 (BMWE). The Railroad and BMWE have brought the case forward for decision on cross motions for Summary Judgment; in addition, Defendant National Mediation Board (the Board) has filed a Motion to Dismiss, alleging that no justiciable controversy exists as to the Board. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The Court finds that there is no genuine issue of material fact regarding the constitutionality of Public Law 99-431 and that summary judgment is therefore appropriate at this time. For the reasons developed more fully below, the Court holds that the above-cited special act of Congress is constitutional and therefore grants Defendant BMWE's Motion for Summary Judgment. In addition, the Court finds no justiciable controversy as to the Board and therefore grants Defendant Board's Motion to Dismiss.


The present case is but one in a series of cases that have arisen from BMWE's attempts to obtain an employee protective agreement with the Railroad in response to the Railroad's massive furloughs of maintenance of way employees. The actual underlying dispute arose on April 2, 1984 when BMWE, in compliance with Section 6 of the Railway Labor Act (45 U.S.C. § 156), served notice on the Railroad of BMWE's desire to change the existing collective bargaining agreements between the parties. The factual background of the dispute has been detailed at length in several related cases, see Railway Labor Executives' Ass'n v. Boston & Maine Corp., 808 F.2d 150, 152-56 (1st Cir.), aff'g in part, rev'g in part 639 F.Supp. 1092 (D.Me.1986); Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees v. Guilford Transp. Indus., 803 F.2d 1228, 1229-30 (1st Cir.1986), and need not be detailed at length again here except for the following portion relevant to the issue currently before the Court.

After exhausting the major dispute procedures available under the Railway Labor Act, and in response to the abolishment of additional maintenance of way positions, BMWE exercised self-help and initiated a strike against the Railroad in March, 1986. BMWE extended its self-help action, in the form of secondary picketing, first to additional carriers owned by the Railroad's parent corporation, Guilford Transportation Industries, Inc., and later to selected carriers outside the Guilford system. On May 16, 1986, President Reagan halted the strike and created Emergency Board No. 209 under Section 10 of the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. § 160. Executive Order No. 12557, 51 Fed.Reg. 18429 (May 20, 1986). The President's Order also required the parties to maintain the pre-March 3, 1986 status quo until 12:01 a.m. on July 21, 1986.

While the prestrike status quo was being maintained, Emergency Board No. 209 undertook to fulfill the Presidential mandate. Formal hearings began on May 28 and concluded on June 10. The Board submitted its Report and Recommendations to the President on June 20, 1986. In that Report, the Board noted that "the parties were given full opportunity to present oral testimony, documentary evidence and argument in support of their respective positions, including rebuttal ... and post-hearing statements.... Both parties were represented by Counsel." Report to the President by Emergency Board No. 209, June 20, 1986, at 3. The Emergency Board concluded that the Railroad "had substantial need to embark upon a major change in the manner in which it would maintain its right-of-way.... and that the magnitude of such change adversely affected an inordinate number of maintenance of way employees." Id. at 15. The Emergency Board concluded that the Railroad's circumstances were quite unique. The sale of the Railroad to Guilford Transportation Industries in 1981 had resulted in rapid technological and organizational changes. Although the Railroad had extended job protections to other classes of workers, BMWE members were not included. In addition, the vast majority of BMWE workers lacked protected status under other industry-wide agreements which already bound other carriers who had not taken until the 1980's to mechanize their work forces. Id. at 15-17. Based on these unique circumstances, the Emergency Board recommended that the dispute be resolved as follows:

1. The Carrier's proposal dated March 2, 1986 for job protection for then currently active employees, as subsequently modified and presented to the Organization on March 3, 1986, should be adopted; the protective allowance to be $26,000.
2. The parties should negotiate a comprehensive agreement for System Production Maintenance Crews to be used throughout the entire geographical confines of the Maine Central Railroad and the Portland Terminal Company similar to those agreements negotiated on the Boston & Maine and the Delaware & Hudson rail lines of the Guilford System.
3. Consistent with the parties' proposals of March 2 and 3, 1986, and in view of their past practice, the parties should agree to be bound by the results of the national negotiations involving rates of pay and health and welfare programs.
4. The parties should agree to handle changes in work rules and practices contained in notices which had been served prior to Executive Order 12557 under the orderly and peaceful procedures of the Railway Labor Act, as amended, up to and including mediation, and without resort to self-help.

Id. at 22-23.

The hiatus from self-help imposed by the executive order and the acceptance by the Emergency Board of the Railroad's March 2, 1986 proposal2 failed, however, to bring about a resolution of the dispute. Congress then enacted Public Law 99-385, 100 Stat. 819 (1986), (the First Act), to extend the status-quo period for an additional sixty days.3 This enactment also created a Congressional Advisory Board, appointed by the National Mediation Board. The Advisory Board was specifically charged to investigate and report to Congress both the progress of any ongoing negotiations and the financial and other circumstances of the dispute including developments since March 3, 1986. The Advisory Board was also to recommend a proposed solution and was not limited to the issues addressed by Presidential Emergency Board No. 209. The precise manner in which the Advisory Board undertook to perform its duties is not known to the Court. The Advisory Board completed its task and issued its report to Congress on September 8, 1986. H.R.Rep. 99-864, 99th Cong., 2d Sess., at 2 (1986), U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News 1986, p. 2155. The Advisory Board recommended that, unless the parties ended the dispute by agreement before September 13, Congress enact legislation directing the parties to accept the recommendations of Presidential Emergency Board No. 209 and requiring the parties to submit any unsettled issues to binding arbitration.

Congress took precisely this action when it enacted Public Law 99-431, 100 Stat. 987 (September 30, 1986) (the Second Act). Congress expressly stated the purpose of the legislation: to preserve transportation services essential to the national interest but threatened by the current labor dispute. It noted that emergency measures were essential to this purpose. As authority for its action, Congress specifically relied on its powers and responsibilities under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Based on the classic principles governing the exercise of equitable powers, this Court refused to enjoin the enforcement of the Second Act in Maine Central R.R. v. Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, 646 F.Supp. 367 (D.Me.1986).4 The current motions, however, place the constitutional merits of the Second Act squarely before the Court.


The Railroad makes the following five arguments in support of its contention that the Second Act is unconstitutional: one, the Second Act violates the equal protection component of the fifth amendment because Congress had no compelling justification to enact such legislation against a discrete and politically powerless class of one5 and because less restrictive means were available to Congress than the means chosen; two, the Second Act violates the equal protection component of the fifth amendment because it is irrational, arbitrary, and unduly burdensome; three, the Second Act violates the due process clause of the fifth amendment because it singles out the Railroad for unreasonable burdens imposed on no other railroad; four, the Second Act violates the separation-of-powers doctrine by adjudicating the rights of the parties and imposing a contract upon them; and five, the Second Act contains an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power to the arbitrator. Defendants6 counter that the Second Act represents an acceptable exercise of Congress's commerce powers.

The Court begins its analysis by noting that the Railroad has the burden of persuasion to establish that the Second Act is unconstitutional. See Usery v. Turner Elkhorn Mining Co., 428 U.S. 1, 15, 96 S.Ct. 2882, 2892, 49 L.Ed.2d 752 (1976). The Railroad...

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    ...Maine Cent. R.R. v. Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, 663 F.Supp. 425 (D.Me.1987); Maine Cent. R.R. v. Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, 657 F.Supp. 971 (D.Me.1987). 4 Section 6 notices were not served on the American Railway and Airway Supervisors Association (ARASA) ......
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