Switchmen Union of North America v. National Mediation Board

Citation88 L.Ed. 61,320 U.S. 297,64 S.Ct. 95
Decision Date22 November 1943
Docket NumberNo. 48,48
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Mr. Donald R. Richberg, of Washington, D.C., for petitioners.

Mr. Robert L. Stern, of Washington, D.C., for respondents National Mediation Board et al.

Mr. Bernard M. Savage, of Baltimore, Md., for respondent Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is an action by the petitioners, the Switchmen's Union of North America and some of its members against the National Mediation Board, its members, the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, and the New York Central Railroad Company and the Michigan Central Railroad Company. The individual plaintiffs are members and officials of the Switchmen's Union and employees of the respondent carriers.

Petitioners were plaintiffs in the District Court. A certification of representatives for collective bargaining under § 2, Ninth of the Railway Labor Act, 44 Stat. 577, 48 Stat. 1185, 45 U.S.C.A. § 152, subd. 9, was made by the Board to the carriers.1 This certification followed the invocation of the services of the Board to investigate a dispute among the yardmen as to their representative. The Brotherhood sought to be the representative for all the yardmen of the rail lines operated by the New York Central system. The Switchmen contended that yardmen of certain designated parts of the system should be permitted to vote for separate representatives instead of being compelled to take part in a systemwide election.

The Board designated all yardmen of the carriers as participants in the election. The election was held and the Brotherhood was chosen as the representative. Upon the certification of the result to the carriers, petitioners sought to have the determination by the Board of the participants and the certification of the representative cancelled. This suit for cancellation was brought in the District Court. That court upheld the decision of the Board to the effect that all yardmen in the service of a carrier should select a single representative for collective bargaining. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed by a divided vote. 77 U.S.App.D.C. 264, 135 F.2d 785. The case is here on a petition for a writ of cer- tiorari which we granted because of the importance of the problems which are raised.

We do not reach the merits of the controversy. For we are of the opinion that the District Court did not have the power to review the action of the National Mediation Board in issuing the certificate.

Sec. 24(8) of the Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C. § 41(8), 28 U.S.C.A. § 41(8), gives the federal district courts 'original jurisdiction' of all 'suits and proceedings arising under any law regulating commerce.' We may assume that if any judicial review of the certificate of the Board could be had, the District Court would have jurisdiction by reason of that provision of the Judicial Code. See Louisville & Nashville R. Co. v. Rice, 247 U.S. 201, 38 S.Ct. 429, 62 L.Ed. 1071; Mulford v. Smith, 307 U.S. 38, 59 S.Ct. 648, 83 L.Ed. 1092; Peyton v. Railway Express Agency, 316 U.S. 350, 62 S.Ct. 1171, 86 L.Ed. 1525. But we do not think that that broad grant of general jurisdiction may be invoked in face of the special circumstances which obtain here.

If the absence of jurisdiction of the federal courts meant a sacrifice or obliteration of a right which Congress had created, the inference would be strong that Congress intended the statutory provisions governing the general jurisdiction of those courts to control. That was the purport of the decisions of this Court in Texas & N.O.R. Co. v. Brotherhood of Ry. & S. S. Clerks, 281 U.S. 548, 50 S.Ct. 427, 74 L.Ed. 1034, and Virginian Ry. Co. v. System Federation No. 40, 300 U.S. 515, 57 S.Ct. 592, 81 L.Ed. 789. In those cases it was apparent that but for the general jurisdiction of the federal courts there would be no remedy to enforce the statutory commands which Congress had written into the Railway Labor Act. The result would have been that the 'right' of collective bargaining was unsupported by any legal sanction. That would have robbed the Act of its vitality and thwarted its purpose. Such considerations are not applicable here. The Act in § 2, Fourth writes into law the 'right' of the 'majority of any craft or class of employees' to 'determine who shall be the representative of the craft or class for the purposes of this Act.' That 'right' is protected by § 2, Ninth which gives the Mediation Board the power to resolve controversies concerning it and as an incident thereto to determine what is the appropriate craft or class in which the election should be held. See Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. National Mediation Board, 66 App.D.C. 375, 88 F.2d 757; Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. National Mediation Board, 77 U.S.App.D.C. 259, 135 F.2d 780. A review by the federal district courts of the Board's determination is not necessary to preserve or protect that 'right'. Congress for reasons of its own decided upon the method for the protection of the 'right' which it created. It selected the precise machinery and fashioned the tool which it deemed suited to that end. Whether the imposition of judicial review on top of the Mediation Board's administrative determination would strengthen that protection is a considerable question.2 All constitutional questions aside, it is for Congress to determine how the rights which it creates shall be enforced. Tutun v. United States, 270 U.S. 568, 576, 577, 46 S.Ct. 425, 426, 70 L.Ed. 738. In such a case the specification of one remedy normally excludes another. See Arnson v. Murphy, 109 U.S. 238, 3 S.Ct. 184, 27 L.Ed. 920; Wilder Mfg. Co. v. Corn Products Refining Co., 236 U.S. 165, 174, 175, 35 S.Ct. 398, 401, 59 L.Ed. 520; United States v. Babcock, 250 U.S. 328, 331, 39 S.Ct. 464, 465, 63 L.Ed. 1011; Sunshine Authracite Coal Co. v. Adkins, 310 U.S. 381, 404, 60 S.Ct. 907, 917, 84 L.Ed. 1263.

Generalizations as to when judicial review of administrative action may or may not be obtained are of course hazardous. Where Congress has not expressly authorized judicial review, the type of problem involved and the history of the statute in question become highly relevant in determining whether judicial review may be nonetheless supplied. See United States v. Griffin, 303 U.S. 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 that of legally enforcible rights has been quite recent. Until the 1926 Act the legal sanctions of the various acts had been few. The emphasis of the legislation had been on conciliation and mediation; the sanctions were publicity and public opinion. Since 1926 there has been an increasing number of legally enforcible commands incorporated into the Act. And Congress has utilized administrative machinery more freely in the settlement of disputes. But large areas of the field still remain in the realm of conciliation, mediation, and arbitration. On only a few phases of this controversial subject has Congress utilized administrative or judicial machinery and invoked the compulsions of the law. We need not recapitulate that history here. Nor need we reiterate what we have said in the Missouri-Kansas-Texas R. Co. case beyond our conclusion that Congress intended to go no further in its use of the processes of adjudication and litigation than the express provisions of the Act indicate.

In that connection the history of § 2, Ninth is highly relevant. It was introduced into the Act in 1934 as a device to strengthen and make more effective the processes of collective bargaining. Virginian Ry. Co. v. System Federation No. 40, supra, 300 U.S. pages 543—549, 57 S.Ct. pages 597—600, 81 L.Ed. 789. It was aimed not only at company unions which had long plagued labor relations (Id., pages 545—547 of 300 U.S. pages 598, 599 of 57 S.Ct., 81 L.Ed. 789) but also at numerous jurisdictional disputes between unions. Commissioner Eastman, draftsman of the 1934 amendments, explained the bill at the Congressional hearings. He stated that whether one organization or another was the proper representative of a particular group of employees was 'one of the most controversial questions in connection with labor organization matters.' Hearings, Committee on Interstate & Foreign Commerce, House of Representatives, on H.R. 7650, 73d Cong., 2d Sess., p. 40. He stated that it was very important 'to provide a neutral tribunal which can make the decision and get the matter settled.' Id., p. 41. But the problem was deemed to be so 'highly controversial' that it was thought that the prestige of the Mediation Board might be adversely affected by the rulings which it would have to make in these jurisdictional disputes. Id., p. 40. And see Hearings, Committee on Interstate Commerce, U.S. Senate, on S. 3266, 73d Cong., 2d Sess., pp. 134—135. Accordingly § 2, Ninth was drafted so as to give to the Mediation Board the power to 'appoint a committee of three neutral persons was after hearing shall within ten days designate the employees who may participate in the election.' That was added so that the Board's own usefulness of settling disputes that might arise thereafter might not be impaired.' S.Rep.No.1065, 73d Cong., 2d Sess., p. 3. Where Congress took such great pains to protect the Mediation Board in its handling of an explosive problem, we cannot help but believe that if Congress had desired to implicate the federal judiciary and to place on the federal courts the burden of having the final say on any aspect of the problem, it would have made its desire plain.

The fact that the certificate of the Mediation Board is conclusive is of course no...

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