Pennsylvania Railroad System and Allied Lines Federation No 90 v. Pennsylvania Co, No. 661

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtTAFT
Citation45 S.Ct. 307,69 L.Ed. 574,267 U.S. 203
Decision Date02 March 1925
Docket NumberNo. 661
PartiesPENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD SYSTEM AND ALLIED LINES FEDERATION NO. 90 et al., v. PENNSYLVANIA R. CO. et al

267 U.S. 203
45 S.Ct. 307
69 L.Ed. 574
PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD SYSTEM AND ALLIED LINES FEDERATION NO. 90 et al.,

v.

PENNSYLVANIA R. CO. et al.

No. 661.
Argued Jan. 13, 1925.
Decided March 2, 1925.

Page 204

Messrs. Morris Hillquit, of New York City, and David Wallerstein, of Philadelphia, Pa., for appellants.

Mr. John Hampton Barnes, of Philadelphia, Pa., for appellees.

Mr. Chief Justice TAFT delivered the opinion of the Court.

The Pennsylvania Railroad System and Allied Lines Federation No. 90, by its bill in equity herein against the

Page 205

Pennsylvania Company and its officers, continued the controversy which was considered in Pennsylvania Railroad Company v. Labor Board, 261 U. S. 72, 43 S. Ct. 278, 67 L. Ed. 536. The company filed an answer, and the case was heard in the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on exhibits and evidence. The District Court dismissed the bill (296 F. 220), and the decree was affirmed in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals (1 F. [2d] 171). The issues involve the construction and application of title 3 of the Transportation Act of 1920, 41 Stat. 456, 469, c. 91 (Comp. St. Ann. Supp. 1923, §§ 10071 1/4ee-10071 1/4jj). The title provides a method for the settlement of disputes over wages, rules, and working conditions between railroad companies engaged in interstate commerce and their employees, and as a means of securing it, creates the Railroad Labor Board and defines its functions and powers.

The Pennsylvania Railroad System and Allied Lines Federation No. 90 is a trades union of 50,000 employees or more affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and embracing those crafts which have to do with the mechanical part of railroad service. It contains as members only workers, or those who have been workers, in the employ of the Pennsylvania Company or its Allied Lines. Our statement of the case and the opinion in what we shall call the Labor Board Case show the dealings between the company and Federation No. 90 down to and beyond the time when the Transportation Act was passed and the railroad property was turned back by the government to the company. The Railroad Labor Board, April 14, 1921, decided that the modus vivendi under which rules and working conditions under the Railroad Administration had continued should end July 1, 1921, and called upon each carrier and its respective employees to designate representatives to confer and decide, so far as possible, respecting their future rules and working conditions, and to keep the board advised of the progress toward agreement. The board accompanied their announcement,

Page 206

known as Decision 119, with a statement of rules of decision which it intended to follow in consideration of the settlement of disputes under title 3. The two which are relevant here, as they were in the case cited, are as follows:

'5. The right of such lawful organization (i. e., trade unions) to act toward lawful objects through representatives of its own choice, whether employees of a particular carrier or otherwise, shall be agreed to by management.'

'15. The majority of any craft or class of employees shall have the right to determine what organization shall represent members of such craft or class. Such organization shall have the right to make an agreement which shall apply to all employees in such craft or class. No such agreement shall infringe, however upon the right of employees not members of the organization representing the majority to present grievances either in person or by representatives of their own choice.'

Officials of Federation No. 90 met the representatives of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, in compliance with the request of the board, in May, 1921. The Pennsylvania representatives refused to confer, on the ground that the Federation did not represent a majority of the employees of the system, and proposed to send out a form of ballot to their employees, asking them to designate their representatives. The Federation officers objected, because the ballot made no provision, in accordance with principles 5 and 15, for the representation of employees by a trade union, but specified that they must be natural persons and such only as were employees of the Pennsylvania Company, and further because the company required that the representatives of the employees should be selected regionally rather than from the craft in the whole system, in compliance with principle No. 15. The result was that two ballots were sent out, one by the company and the other by the Federation. These forms were both

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found objectionable by the board, which by its decision No. 218 ordered a new election, for which rules were prescribed and a form of ballot specified, on which labor organizations, as well as individuals, could be voted for as his representatives at the option of the employee. The Pennsylvania Company applied to the board to vacate this decision, on the ground that there was no dispute before the board of which by title 3 of the Transportation Act the board was given jurisdiction. After a rehearing the board confirmed its original decision. The action of the company in refusing to comply with the decision of the board as to the manner of holding the elections led to a vote among the members of the Federation No. 90 as to whether they should strike against the company because of such vote. There was an affirmative vote, and some 20,000 struck. A bill was brought by the Pennsylvania Company to enjoin the Labor Board from hearing the controversy instituted by Federation No. 90 over the election of representatives who should act for the employees in the conferences proposed with the company. It was first objected that the Federation No. 90 had no standing or capacity to invoke the hearing of the dispute because a labor union; second, that the controversy did not involve the kind of dispute of which the board could take cognizance under the act, because the question who should represent the employees as to grievances, rules, and working conditions was not within in the jurisdiction of the Labor Board to decide; and, third, the board had no right to publish its opinion condemning the action of the company as it proposed to do, because that only applied to final decisions of a dispute over wages or working conditions. The position of the company was not sustained by this court. It was held that a labor union could invoke the board's action; that the question who should be recognized as representatives of the employees was not only before the board, but involved one of the most important

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of the rules and working conditions in the operation of a railroad; and that such a decision could therefore be made public if the board deemed it wise and proper. The District Court in which the suit was brought had enjoined the Labor Board from hearing the dispute and from publishing its opinion. Notwithstanding the opinion of the board, the Pennsylvania Company proceeded to carry out its original method of selecting employees' representatives and their regional distribution. It refused to allow its employees to vote for the Federation No. 90 as their representative, and where ballots were cast, as happened in some of the voting places, for the Federation No. 90 in a great majority, individuals, though they had but a small minority of votes, were declared elected as representatives by the company. The company's plan brought together in the organizations an equal number of officers and of employees' representatives, with the restriction that no action should be taken indicating agreement unless two-thirds of the body acting should concur. The company paid the expenses of the organizations and such permanent officers as they had were put upon the pay roll of the company. It instituted a trade organization with which the company proposed to deal and has dealt, although the evidence conclusively showed that it did not, at the time of the election certainly, represent a majority of the employees. The company and the employees whom it recognized as the representatives of their employees came to an agreement in respect to wages and working conditions and have induced many employees to sign such agreement. This agreement took effect as of July 1, 1921.

The bill in this case was filed to enjoin what was charged to be a conspiracy by the Pennsylvania Company and its officers to defeat the provisions of the act and deprive the employees of their rights with which the provisions of title 3 of the act intended to vest them in their dealings

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with the company, averring that, in the effort to deprive them of their proper representation and to maintain the plan of the company, the company resorted to coercion, with threats of discharge, and further violated their rights by preventing a large number of employees who were furloughed from casting their vote in the elections.

The complainants further contend, first that all furloughed employees, who in July 1921, were...

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33 practice notes
  • International Association of Machinists v. Street, No. 4
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 19, 1961
    ...R. Co. v. United States Railroad Labor Board, 261 U.S. 72, 43 S.Ct. 278, 67 L.Ed. 536; Pennsylvania R. System v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 267 U.S. 203, 45 S.Ct. 307, 69 L.Ed. 574. By 1926 the Board had lost the confidence of both the unions and many of the railroads. Commented the Senate Commit......
  • Virginian Ry Co v. System Federation No 40, No. 324
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 29, 1937
    ...except through the effect of adverse public opinion.' Pennsylvania Railroad System & Allied Lines Federation v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 267 U.S. 203, 216, 45 S.Ct. 307, 311, 69 L.Ed. 574. In 1926 Congress, aware of the impotence of the Board, and of the fact that its authority was generally no......
  • Aircraft Serv. Int'l Inc. v. Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters Afl Cio Local 117, No. 12–36026.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • January 10, 2014
    ...legal sanction in that act.” Va. Ry. Co., 300 U.S. at 544–45, 57 S.Ct. 592 (citing Pa. R.R. Sys. & Allied Lines Fed'n v. Pa. R.R. Co., 267 U.S. 203, 215, 45 S.Ct. 307, 69 L.Ed. 574 (1925)). While holding that the RLA imposed obligations on unions and employers, the Court noted that “these w......
  • United States v. Williams, No. 26
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 23, 1951
    ...480, 53 L.Ed. 725; O'Sullivan v. Felix, 233 U.S. 318, 34 S.Ct. 596, 58 L.Ed. 980; Pennsylvania System Federation v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 267 U.S. 203, 45 S.Ct. 307, 69 L.Ed. 574. 8. It is worth noting that count 1 of the indictment in Screws v. United States, 325 U.S. 91, 65 S.Ct. 1031, 89 ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
35 cases
  • International Association of Machinists v. Street, No. 4
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 19, 1961
    ...R. Co. v. United States Railroad Labor Board, 261 U.S. 72, 43 S.Ct. 278, 67 L.Ed. 536; Pennsylvania R. System v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 267 U.S. 203, 45 S.Ct. 307, 69 L.Ed. 574. By 1926 the Board had lost the confidence of both the unions and many of the railroads. Commented the Senate Commit......
  • Virginian Ry Co v. System Federation No 40, No. 324
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 29, 1937
    ...except through the effect of adverse public opinion.' Pennsylvania Railroad System & Allied Lines Federation v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 267 U.S. 203, 216, 45 S.Ct. 307, 311, 69 L.Ed. 574. In 1926 Congress, aware of the impotence of the Board, and of the fact that its authority was generally no......
  • Aircraft Serv. Int'l Inc. v. Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters Afl Cio Local 117, No. 12–36026.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • January 10, 2014
    ...legal sanction in that act.” Va. Ry. Co., 300 U.S. at 544–45, 57 S.Ct. 592 (citing Pa. R.R. Sys. & Allied Lines Fed'n v. Pa. R.R. Co., 267 U.S. 203, 215, 45 S.Ct. 307, 69 L.Ed. 574 (1925)). While holding that the RLA imposed obligations on unions and employers, the Court noted that “these w......
  • United States v. Williams, No. 26
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 23, 1951
    ...480, 53 L.Ed. 725; O'Sullivan v. Felix, 233 U.S. 318, 34 S.Ct. 596, 58 L.Ed. 980; Pennsylvania System Federation v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 267 U.S. 203, 45 S.Ct. 307, 69 L.Ed. 574. 8. It is worth noting that count 1 of the indictment in Screws v. United States, 325 U.S. 91, 65 S.Ct. 1031, 89 ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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