Stephenson v. New Orleans & N. E. R. Co.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Citation177 So. 509,180 Miss. 147
Docket Number32877
PartiesSTEPHENSON et al. v. NEW ORLEANS & N. E. R. CO. et al
Decision Date06 December 1937

Division A

Suggestion Of Error Overruled January 17, 1938.

APPEAL from the chancery court of Forrest county HON. BEN STEVENS Chancellor.

Suit by W. A. Stephenson and others against the New Orleans &amp Northeastern Railroad Company and others. From a decree of dismissal, plaintiffs appeal. Reversed and rendered.

Reversed, and decree here for appellants.

Hannah & Simrall, of Harrisburg, for appellants.

In view of the fact that the Congress of the United States has seen fit to enjoin upon the carriers and their employees the duty "to exert every reasonable effort to make and maintain agreements concerning rates of pay, rules, and working conditions, and to settle all disputes," it is respectfully submitted that it is wholly inconceivable and the adjustment board created under this same act could have jurisdiction to disrupt the terms of a satisfactory working contract and agreement between the carrier and its employees, when the said carrier and its employees are in perfect harmony with respect to said contract.

45 U.S.C. A., secs. 151-159, Railway Labor Act.

The case at bar presents a situation where an employee of one carrier invokes the jurisdiction of the National Railroad Adjustment Board for the very purpose of having this board disrupt a very satisfactory "agreement concerning rates of pay, rules and working conditions" of another carrier and its employees.

A careful examination and study of the Railway Labor Act wholly fails to reveal that C regress ever vested the National Railroad Adjustment Board with jurisdiction or authority to deal with the peaceful relations existing between the New Orleans and Northeastern Rail-road Company and its employees, solely for the purpose of gratifying the whims of a disgruntled employee of the Alabama Great Southern Railroad Company.

The act is not merely "lacking in authority" in this respect, but in view of the affirmative statements as to purposes and duties found in the language of the act, it is respectfully submitted that the conduct on the part of the Adjustment Board is in direct violation of both the letter and the spirit of this act of Congress.

45 U.S.C. A., sec. 153, par. (h).

The entire context of this act shows that the jurisdiction of the Adjustment Board is limited solely to disputes where the carrier is on one side and its employees on the other, and does not extend to controversies or disputes between employees of the same carrier or employees of different carriers.

Traux v. Raich, 239 U.S. 33, 60 L.Ed. 131, L. R. A. 1916D 545, Ann. Cas. 1917B 283; Malone v. Gardner, 62 Fed. (2d), 15; Parrish v. Chesapeake & Ohio Ry., 62 F.2d 20; Estes v. Union Terminal Co., 89 F.2d 768.

It is respectfully submitted that, inasmuch as the Labor Board saw fit to expressly decline to comply with the very express requirement of the statute, and in view of the fact that these appellants were never made parties to this proceeding before the Adjustment Board, the rights of these appellants stand unaffected by the award of said board. But, even if it be said that these appellants were before the said board, still, under the holding in the Estes case, these appellants have a right to have the proceedings of the said board reviewed by this Honorable Court.

If this act be construed as permitting these appellants to invoke the aid of courts of competent jurisdiction to review and test the findings of the adjustment board, just as the act affords the carrier the right to have the said judgments reviewed and tested, then the statute is not lacking in equal protection or due process.

On the contrary, if the statute be interpreted as denylng to these appellants the right to resort to courts of competent jurisdiction for reviewing and testing the judgments and findings of the Adjustment Board, when the act expressly confers this right upon the carrier, then it is respectfully submitted that the said statute would be unconstitutional as lacking in both equal protection and due process.

The right to labor peaceably and earn a living without molestation is vouchsafed to these appellants by the fundamental laws of the land, and numerous decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States. That seniority rights are property rights, within the purview and protection of the Constitution of the United States, is expressly held in the case of Griffin v. Chicago Union Station, 13 F.Supp. 722.

It must necessarily follow that these appellants can resort to the courts of the land to preserve and protect these rights.

Pierey v. L. & N. R. R., 248 S.W. 1642, 33 A. L. R. 322.

In the case at bar, we find the American Train Dispatchers' Association taking the initiative before the Adjustment Board for the very purpose of taking away certain rights of these appellants, in order that said rights might be given to, or enjoyed by, appellee Stange.

Y. & M. V. R. R. Co. v. Sideboard, 133 So. 669.

As set forth in Malone v. Gardner, 62 F.2d 15, and Parrish v; C. & O. R. R., 62 F.2d 20, there is no Federal question involved in this suit. The real question presented by this record, is the right or non-right of the railroad company to breach its contract with these appellants.

Chambers v. Davis, 128 Miss. 613, 91 So. 346; Y. & M. V. v. Sideboard, 161 Miss. 4, 133 So. 669.

Mississippi Theatres v. Hattiesburg Local, 174 Miss. 439, 164 So. 887, involved the right of the labor organization to prevent the breach of a contract by injunction. The court declined to follow the holding in Chambers v. Davis, 128 Miss. 613, pointing out that the proceeding in the Theatres' case was a proceeding by the organization, rather than by individual members. However, it is submitted that, in view of the pronouncements of the court in the Sideboard case, and the undisputed allegations of the bill of complaint as to irreparable injury and multiplicity of suits, the injunction in the case at bar was properly sued out and should be made perpetual.

Leo. J. Hauenauer, of Chicago, Ill., and T. Price Dale, of Hattiesburg, for appellee, F.W. Stange.

The Railroad Labor Act vested in the National Railroad Adjustment Board exclusive jurisdiction to provide for the prompt and orderly settlement of all disputes growing out of grievances or out of the interpretation or application of agreements concerning rates of pay, rules or working conditions.

45 U.S.C. A., sections 151-a, 153 (a), (h), (i), (1), (m) and (p); Texas & N. O. R. R. Co. v. Bro. of Ry. & S. S. Clerks, 281 U.S. 548.

The dispute having been adjudicated by the National Railroad Adjustment Board, after a full hearing allowed all parties, including appellants, previous to the filing of the original bill of complaint and its several amendments, the dissolution of the injunction and dismissal of the bill of complaint as amended was correct and should be sustained.

Dixon v. Greene County, 76 Miss. 794, 25 So. 665; Eureka & K. R. R. Co. v. California & N. Ry., 103 F. 897; Central Stock Yards Co. v. L. & N. R. Co., 112 F. 823; Haycraft v. U.S. 22 Wall. 98; Bank v. Dearing, 91 U.S. 35; Barrier v. Bank, 98 U.S. 555; Carter v. Carusi, 112 U.S. 483; East Tenn. R. Co. v. So. Tel. Co., 112 U.S. 306; McBroom v. Investment Co., 153 U.S. 325; Southern Bell Tel. & Tel. Co. v. City of Birmingham, 211 F. 709; Boyer v. West Union Tel. Co., 124 F. 246; 14 R. C. L. 390.

Jurisdiction of the dispute having been taken by the National Railroad Adjustment Board and an award rendered in accordance with the statute this court is without jurisdiction in the premises.

Lambert Run Coal Co. v. B. & O. R, R. Co., 258 U.S. 377; St. Louis Railroad Co. v. Blumberg, 325 Ill. 387; Southern Pacific Co. v. City of Willow Glen, 49 F.2d 1005.

Appellants seek relief which the Supreme Court of Mississippi has heretofore held is not grantable by a court of equity under similar facts and circumstances.

Chambers v. Davis, 128 Miss. 613, 91 So. 346; Sims v. Van Meter Lbr. Co., 96 Miss. 449, 51 So. 459: Miss. Theatres Corp. v. Hattiesburg Local Union No. 615, 164 So. 887; Texas & N. O. R. Co. v. Bro. of Ry. & S. S. Clerks, 281 U.S. 548; Mosshamer v. Wab. Ry. Co., 221 Mich. 407, 191 N.W. 210; Schwartz v. Cigar Makers Union, 219 Mich. 589, 189 N.W. 55; McMurray v. Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, 50 F.2d 968; Malone v. Gardner, 62 Fed. (2d), 15; Harris v. Missouri Pac. R. R. Co., 1 F.Supp. 946; Burger v. McCarthy, 100 S.E. 492; Aulich v. Craigmyle, 59 S.W.2d 560; Aden v. Louisville, etc., R. Co., 276 S.W. 551; Shaup v. Bro. of Loc. E., 135 So. 327; 10 R. C. L., sec. 132; Dehan v. Hotel & Restaurant Employees, 159 So. 637; West. Powd. Mfg. Co. v. Interstate Coal Co., 5 F.Supp. 619; Red "C" Oil Co. v. North Carolina, 222 U.S. 380; Peterson Baking Co. v. Bryan, 290 U.S. 570.

The arrangement as to seniority was between the American Train Dispatchers Association and the Southern Railway System and its members.

It is fundamental principle of law applicable to the collective bargaining relationship existing between carriers and their employees that seniority rights are not created as a result of an individual contract between an employee and the carrier.

West v. B. & O. R. R. Co., 103 W.Va. 417, 137 S.E. 654; Aullick v. Craigmyle, 59 S.W.2d 560; Berger v. McCarthy, 100 S.E. 492; Aden v. Louisville & N. R. Co., 276 S.W. 511; Florestano v. Northern Pacific Ry. Co., 269 N.W. 407; Mosshamer v. Wabash R. Co., 191 N.W. 210; Donovan v. Travers, 188 N.E. 705; Boucher v. Godfrey, 178 A. 655; Kessel v. Great Northern Ry. Co., 51 F.2d 304; Burton v. O. W. R. & N. Co., 38 P.2d 72; Y. & M. V. R. Co. v. Webb, 64 F.2d 902; Ross Lodge v. B. of. R. T., 254 N.W. 590.


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