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Heisler v. Parsons

December 28, 1962

JANETTE HEISLER AND HELEN CHASE, INDIVIDUALLY AND ETC.
v.
JAMES B. PARSONS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE; AND EASTERN AIR LINES, INC., INTERVENOR.



Author: Duffy

Before DUFFY, KNOCH and KILEY, Circuit Judges.

DUFFY, Circuit Judge:

This is an original petition praying for a writ of mandamus or prohibition directed to the Honorable James B. Parsons, Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Plaintiffs ask that Judge Parsons be directed to vacate an order entered by him on June 29, 1962, setting for trial a case on his docket hereinafter described, and to enter orders either dismissing the case for want of jurisdiction of the subject matter or finding for the defendants Heisler and Chase on the ground that the certifications and determinations of the National Mediation Board have conclusively resolved all issues in the case.

The big point at issue is which labor organization has been, since August 1960, the representative of flight attendants employed by Eastern Air Lines, Inc., Northwest Airlines, Inc. and Trans World Airlines, Inc.

The three air carriers mentioned have withheld union dues which they have deducted monthly from their employees' wages since August 1960. The deductions were made pursuant to collective bargaining agreements and individual dues checkoff authorizations executed prior to August 1960.

The mandamus petition refers to a suit pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois which is on the calendar of Judge Parsons. This suit is there designated as No. 61 C 1032, Don J. Smith et al., individually and on behalf of all members of a certain class, plaintiffs v. Eastern Air Lines, Inc., Northwest Airlines, Inc., Trans World Airlines, Inc., Janette Heisler and Helen Chase, individually and on behalf of members of a certain class, defendants.*fn1

The plaintiffs in Smith Case No. 1032, sued in behalf of a labor organization which claims to be the same union or the successor union to Air Lines Stewards and Stewardesses Association, International (ALSSA). The complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that the union organization therein described is entitled to funds which have been withheld by the air carriers.

The air carriers claim that each of their roles is that of stakeholder, and that they are retaining the funds withheld by them pending a determination as to which labor organization is entitled to the funds.

Janette Heisler and Helen Chase, petitioners in the instant proceeding, are the same persons listed in Smith Case No. 1032 as defendants. They represent another labor union (ALSSA, TWU), which claims to be the same union or the successor union to ALSSA, and which union also claims title to the funds which have been withheld by the air carriers.

Thus, we have here two labor organizations, each claiming to be the "true and lawful" ALSSA. Don Smith, one of the plaintiffs in Smith Case No. 1032, is the acting treasurer of one. The offices of this organization are at 55th Street and Cicero Avenue, Chicago. Janette Heisler is the treasurer and Helen Chase is the secretary of the other organization.Its offices are located at 316 West Randolph Street, Chicago.

Each of the bargaining agreements with which we are here concerned, provides that the air carriers shall deduct from wages of the flight attendants covered and shall pay over to ALSSA, periodic union dues, initiation fees, and assessments. Since August 1960, the air carriers have deducted sums for such purposes.

ALSSA was originated in 1947 as a chartered affiliate by Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA). Charters of affiliation were issued by ALPA to ALSSA in 1947, 1951 and 1953. The 1951 and 1953 charters provided that ALPA could revoke them for wrongful conduct on the part of ALSSA, and thereupon the 1947 charter would again be in full effect. Under the 1947 charter, ALPA had reserved greater powers of control over ALSSA's conduct.

As an ALPA affiliate, ALSSA won certification elections which were conducted among employees of various airlines by the National Mediation Board. It was so certified with respect to employees of Eastern and Trans World on March 6, 1947, and was certified for the employees of Northwest on October 22, 1948.

In 1960, some members of ALSSA made accusations against their then officers. Sayen, the president of the parent ALPA, set a hearing after giving notice. Also disputes had arisen between ALSSA's officers and ALPA over questions involving the status of ALSSA including the alleged efforts of officers of ALSSA to ...


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