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Railway Express Agency Inc. v. Kennedy

June 5, 1951

RAILWAY EXPRESS AGENCY, INC.
v.
KENNEDY ET AL.



Author: Swaim

Before FINNEGAN, LINDLEY and SWAIM, Circuit Judges.

SWAIM, Circuit Judge.

This is an appeal from an order of the District Court dismissing plaintiff's petition for an injunction and for other incidental relief against the defendants individually and as members of the Railroad Retirement Board. There is in effect a temporary injunction pending the final decision of this appeal.

The plaintiff seeks to enforce its view of the provisions of the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act, 45 U.S.C.A. § 354(a-2)(iii), that unemployment compensation shall not be paid to workers for unemployment caused by a strike "commenced in violation of the provisions of" the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq. The Board has already paid such compensation in excess of $90,000 to 2300 of plaintiff's employees for one 14 day period and intends, unless enjoined from doing so, to pay said employees $38,103.75 for a second period.

The strike involved plaintiff's employees who were members of two locals of the Teamsters' Union in the New York metropolitan area. On June 1, 1950, the unions representing the employees here involved submitted to plaintiff demands for a new union contract. Thereafter, for a period of several weeks the plaintiff and representatives of the unions engaged in negotiations for a new agreement. On September 21, negotiations having broken down, the plaintiff sought the intervention and services of the National Mediation Board. On the following day, September 22, the Mediation Board notified the parties that its services had been invoked. On the next day, September 23, the employees went out on a strike, which continued to and including October 20, 1950. In the meantime, on October 3, a Presidential Emergency Board was created to investigate and report concerning the dispute.

The plaintiff argues that the Railway Labor Act requires that the employees, as well as the employer, cooperate in the several steps outlined in that Act before resort can be had to a strike. Plaintiff further argues that under the provisions of the Railway Labor Act the strike here definitely became illegal upon the appointment of the Emergency Board.

The District Court assigned, among others, the following reasons for dismissing the complaint:

(1) The United States is the owner of the fund, and the plaintiff has no such interest as gives it the right to sue;

(2) The Statute makes the decisions of the Board final, except as to appeals provided for objecting employees; and

(3) Carriers have no right of appeal from the decisions of the Board.

If the plaintiff has such an interest in the fund as to give it a standing to sue, it must show that the action of the Board in allowing compensation claims is subject to judicial review on the complaint of a carrier. The plaintiff in its complaint admits, however, that "There is no provision in the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act nor any other act of Congress, whereby this plaintiff or any other employer similarly situated can effect an appeal to any competent court from any decision of the Board."

The Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act, 45 U.S.C.A. § 355(b) expressly authorizes the Board "to make findings of fact with respect to any claim for benefits and to make decisions as to the right of any claimant to benefits." Subsection (c) of this section, after providing for reviews of the initial action on claims by the Board and for notification of the interested parties, states that:

"Subject only to such review [the review provided for by subsection (f) of this section], the decision of the Board upon all issues determined in such decision shall be final and conclusive for all purposes and shall conclusively establish all rights and obligations, arising under this chapter, of every party notified as hereinabove provided of his right to participate in the proceedings.

"Any issue determinable pursuant to this subsection and subsection (f) of this section shall not be determined in any manner other than pursuant to this ...


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