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The Pullman Co. v. Cummins

OPINION FILED JANUARY 24, 1957

THE PULLMAN COMPANY, APPELLANT,

v.

ROY F. CUMMINS, DIRECTOR OF LABOR, ET AL., APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JULIUS H. MINER, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE BRISTOW DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied March 19, 1957.

Plaintiff appeals directly to this court from a judgment of the circuit court of Cook County entered as a declaratory judgment under the Civil Practice Act finding that the plaintiff's complaint fails to state a cause of action and holding that the Illinois statute requiring semimonthly payment of wages (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1955, chap. 48, pars. 36-37a,) applies to and forbids payment of wages by plaintiff as computed under certain proration rules contained in the plaintiff's collective bargaining agreements with its sleeping-car porters and conductors. The judgment also specifically found that said statute is not in conflict with the Railway Labor Act and does not violate the interstate or supremacy clauses of the United States constitution. Inasmuch as the validity of an Illinois statute and a construction of the Federal constitution are directly in issue in this case the appeal properly comes direct to this court.

The plaintiff's complaint describes plaintiff's business, the unique character of the terms of employment of its porters and conductors and the collective bargaining agreements between the plaintiff and labor organizations representing such employees. It further states the proration rules in the collective bargaining agreements which require that in computing an employee's compensation his service hours are prorated between two months when a trip and his assigned layover extend from one month to the next. It is alleged that the purpose and effect of the proration rules are to stabilize the monthly payments to employees. The complaint further alleges that the Illinois semimonthly pay statute, originally enacted in 1913, has never been enforced against the computation of payments under the proration rules, although the rules have been in the porters' agreement since 1937 and in the conductors' agreement since 1945. It is also alleged that the Illinois statute does not forbid the computation of such payments but that the present Director of Labor of the State of Illinois intends to attempt to enforce the statute against the proration rules. Provisions of the Railway Labor Act are cited in the complaint with an allegation that the application of the Illinois statutes to these payments would conflict with the regulation of interstate commerce by Congress in the Railway Labor Act and would violate the interstate commerce (art. I, sec. 8) and supremacy (art. VI) clauses of the United States constitution. The complaint further alleges that the defendants may seek to impose upon the plaintiff the severe criminal penalties of the Illinois statute with a resulting multiplicity of suits and irreparable damage to the plaintiff, and that an adjudication that the statute validly forbids payments computed under the proration rules would subject the plaintiff to penalties of thousands of dollars every half month. The complaint concludes that an actual controversy therefore exists between plaintiff and the defendants and prays for a declaratory judgment (1) that the statutory requirement of prompt and frequent wage payments does not forbid the computation of hours and wages under proration rules in the union contracts between plaintiff and its employees; (2) that if the statute forbids such computation under the union contracts it would conflict with the Federal Railway Labor Act and violate the interstate commerce and supremacy clauses of the United States constitution; and (3) prays for an injunction restraining the defendants from attempting to enforce the statute against the proration rules as relief incidental to such declarations.

Defendants filed a motion that the complaint be stricken and the cause dismissed with prejudice on the grounds that the complaint stated no cause of action, that the Illinois statute is in all respects constitutional and not in conflict with the Railway Labor Act, and that the provisions of the collective bargaining agreements do not prevent the enforcement of the Illinois statute.

After a hearing on said motion wherein the defendants conceded that a declaratory judgment was a proper remedy in the instant case, the trial court sustained the defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint and entered the judgment presently appealed from.

The provisions of "An Act in relation to the semi-monthly payment of wages and salaries by corporations for pecuniary profit, and providing penalty for violation of same" as amended in 1955, (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1955, chap. 48, pars. 36-37a), so far as pertinent to a decision of this case, are as follows:

"§ 1. Every corporation for pecuniary profit engaged in any enterprise or business within the State of Illinois, shall at least semi-monthly pay to every employe engaged in its business all wages or salaries earned by such employe during the semi-monthly pay period; all wages or salaries earned by such employe during such pay period shall be paid to such employe by such corporation not later than 13 days after the end of the semi-monthly pay period. * * * No corporation coming within the meaning of this act, shall by special contract with employes or by any other means secure exemption from the provision of this act. * * *

"§ 2. Any corporation coming within the meaning of this act willfully violating section I of this act, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not less than $25.00 nor more than $100.00 for each separate offense and each and every failure or refusal to pay each employe the amount of wages due him or her at the time, or under the conditions required in Section I of this act, shall constitute a separate offense.

"§ 3. The Department of Labor, shall administer and enforce the provisions of this Act. Upon complaint to the Director of Labor that a provision of this Act has been violated, the Director or his deputies shall have access to all accounts, records and memoranda pertaining to the wages and salaries of employes of such corporation."

From the details alleged in the complaint and admitted by the defendants' motion to dismiss, it appears that since its organization as an Illinois corporation in 1867 plaintiff has engaged in the business of operating sleeping cars for railroad passengers throughout the United States and Canada. Its principal office and place of business is in Chicago. It employs approximately 1600 conductors and 7400 porters, attendants, maids and bus boys in its system. All employees' pay records are at its principal office where the wages are computed and the pay checks distributed.

As a "sleeping-car company," plaintiff is within the definition of "carrier" in the Railway Labor Act (45 U.S.C. § 151-164) as originally enacted by Congress in 1926 and as since amended.

Pursuant to section 2 of the Railway Labor Act, which makes it the duty of a carrier and its employees to make and maintain agreements concerning rates of pay and other matters, the plaintiff for some years has entered into collective bargaining agreements with employees represented by labor organizations. The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters represents porters, attendants, maids and bus boys and the Order of Railway Conductors and Brakemen of America represents the conductors in plaintiff's service. Each of the organizations is a labor union authorized to represent the employees under the Railway Labor Act. The porters' agreement of November 25, 1952, as revised on September 15, 1954, and the conductors' agreement of December 20, 1950, as revised on January 3, 1955, were each in effect on the date of the complaint.

The schedules of work and the basis of pay of the employees differ from those of railroad or factory employees. Railroad employees ususally work for short distances, approximately 150 to 200 miles. Plaintiff's employees operate from the point of origin to the destination of a trip which may amount to over 2000 miles one way. Factory employees usually work 8 hours a day and are paid overtime beyond 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. The collective bargaining agreements covering plaintiff's employees provide for the payment of overtime on a monthly rather than a daily or weekly basis. Other distinctive practices for these employees include a monthly guarantee of pay, layovers between trips, and special methods of compensation according to agreed formulas, such as the proration rules. The pay provisions of these collective bargaining agreements are extremely complex, ...


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