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Hilbert v. Pennsylvania Railroad Co.

May 29, 1961

WILLIAM E. HILBERT, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS
v.
PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD COMPANY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Author: Duffy

Before HASTINGS, Chief Judge, DUFFY, Circuit Judge, and MERCER, District Judge.

DUFFY, C.J.:

This suit was brought primarily to enjoin defendant railroad company from putting into effect certain Notices and Advertisement Bulletins dated April 18, 1960, which were to become effective April 26, 1960. Had the Notices and Advertisement Bulletins been carried out, it would have resulted in a reassignment of engineers from defendant's terminal at Terre Haute, Indiana, to defendant's terminal at Indianapolis, Indiana. Both terminals are now and were then established terminals for road train and engine crews.

Defendant filed a motion to dismiss or for summary judgment. Holding there were no genuine issues as to any material facts, the Court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment.

This suit was commenced in an Indiana State Court on April 25, 1960. On the same day, that Court issued a restraining order without notice enjoining defendant from putting into effect the Notices and the Advertisement Bulletins hereinbefore described. Thereafter, the suit was removed to the United States District Court.

The individual plaintiffs are members of Division No. 25 of the Grand International Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the latter being a national or international labor organization.The complaint alleged that for approximately one hundred years last past there has been a home terminal for engine crews of defendant's road at Terre Haute, Indiana, as follows: a) pool freight engine crews operating between Terre Haute and Indianapolis; b) pool freight engine crews operating between Terre Haute and East St. Louis; c) regularly assigned and extra passenger service locomotive engineers operating between Terre Haute and Indianapolis and between Terre Haute and East St. Louis, and an extra list of locomotive engineers with their Home Terminal at Terre Haute servicing locomotive engineers in categories (a), (b) and (c).

Under existing agreements reached by collective bargaining, engineers in freight and passenger service generally are paid a fixed amount per mile of their individual runs. They receive, however, a minimum allowance known as a basic day, equivalent to the payment for one hundred miles. The distance from Terre Haute to Indianapolis is 78 miles. The engineers on this run have been paid on the basis of 100 miles although they actually had run 78 miles. The payment for the 22 miles' difference is referred to as a constructive allowance.

Defendant determined that by arranging its freight and passenger service between Indianapolis and East St. Louis to be operated by engineers having their home terminal at Indianapolis, payment for the 22 miles not actually run would be eliminated. Also, a stop at Terre Haute for the purpose of changing engine crews would no longer be necessary. Defendant proceeded to abolish the pools and extra lists at Terre Haute, and new runs were advertised covering the home terminal at Indianapolis to perform the same service. No prior consultation was had with the representatives of the engineers, defendant claiming that same was not necessary, and asserting that on numerous occasions in the past, such changes have been made under the existing agreement without prior negotiation.

Plaintiffs point out that Division No. 25 is composed primarily of locomotive engineers who reside in Terre Haute or the immediate vicinity thereof, and that Indianapolis has not been a home terminal for them. In addition to the great inconvenience of finding new homes in Indianapolis and the loss of "constructive allowances" they claim their seniority rights would also be affected.

One of the many regulations in effect for many years between the union and defendant reads:

"5-P-1. Established terminals will not be changed nor new terminals created except by agreement between the interested local chairman and the Superintendent."

No attempt was made by plaintiffs to submit the present dispute under existing grievance procedures although the District Court found they had a right to do so.

On November 2, 1959, prior to the present dispute, the defendant served on all the organizations representing its employees, a notice under section 6 of the Railway Labor Act proposing a general revision of the collective bargaining agreements covering the defendant's employees. This notice was served as part of a national movement by substantially all the Class I carriers in the United States. These proposals are currently before a presidential commission.

The big issue in this suit is whether a major dispute or a minor dispute is involved.Plaintiffs insist the action of defendant in changing working conditions which had long been in existence, and creating new conditions of employment, created a major dispute; that it violated the status quo provisions ...


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