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Pullman Co. v. Order of Railway Conductors and Brakemen

April 10, 1963


Author: Swygert


SWYGERT, C.J.: The action instituted below was for an injunction to enjoin a planned strike of the conductor-employees of plaintiff, The Pullman Company. The defendants include the Order of Railway Conductors and Brakemen and two officers of that labor organization.

A temporary restraining order was granted pending a trial on the merits which occurred on April 18, 1962. The trial judge, on April 23, 1962, entered findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a final decree enjoining the strike. This appeal followed.

The injunction was granted on the ground that the conductors' organization had violated the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. 152, et seq . It is clear that the District Court lacked jurisdiction to grant an injunction in this labor dispute, Norris-LaGuardia Act, 29 U.S.C. § 101, et seq ., unless a clear violation of the Railway Labor Act was shown.The Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. Chicago River & Indiana R. Co ., 353 U.S. 30 (1957); Virginia Ry. Co. v. System Federation No. 40, 300 U.S. 515 (1937).

The common stock of The Pullman Company is owned by fifty-three railroads that acquired its capital stock in 1947, following a decree of a federal district court in Philadelphia requiring Pullman, Inc. to divest itself of its sleeping car business.

The Pullman Company as it presently exists under railroad ownership is a service enterprise. Under its Uniform Service Contract with the railroads it serves, Pullman must offer its services as an innkeeper of hotels on wheels to any railroad which desires its service. Upon notice, any railroad can discontinue its service requirements; furthermore, each railroad has the right at any time to take over the operation of sleeping cars from Pullman.

The instant dispute revolves around the right of the railroads to discontinue their relations with Pullman on short notice and the disruptive effect this may have on the employees of Pullman represented by the conductors' organization. While other issues are collaterally involved in the dispute between Pullman and the organization, it is sufficient for our purpose to focus on this aspect of the dispute because it appears from the District Court's decision that the injunction was granted on the grounds: (1) the organization failed to exhaust the provisions of the Railway Labor Act as respects the formal notice requirements of Section (6) of the Act, 45 U.S.C. § 156; (2) the mediation efforts of the National Mediation Board as required by 45 U.S.C. § 155 had not been terminated as of the date of the proposed strike; (3) the organization had failed to obtain a proper strike ballot vote from its membership regarding the proposed strike; and (4) the "Joint Proposal" made to Pullman by the defendants related to intercorporate arrangements and hence was not "a proper subject of collective bargaining" under the Railway Labor Act.

On February 27, 1959, the organization served a Section (6) notice on Pullman, proposing wage increases. On March 30, 1959, Pullman served a notice on the organization proposing modification of rules governing working conditions. The organization filed its own notice for changes in rules governing working conditions on April 24, 1959; this notice related to consolidation of seniority rosters.

Negotiations between the parties were conducted but no agreement was reached. On September 22, 1959, the organization submitted a strike ballot to its members who voted to authorize a strike.

On November 7, 1960, after the strike ballot just mentioned, the organization served another Section (6) notice on the company proposing job protection and other rules for Pullman conductors.*fn1 An examination of the Section (6) notices shows that the one dated November 7, 1960, contains the matters at issue in this case.

With the assistance of the National Mediation Board, a mediation agreement was executed between the organization and Pullman on November 18, 1960, which resolved the wage issue between the parties. The mediation agreement continued the other issues raised by the Section (6) notices (including those raised by the notice of November 7, 1960) under the jurisdiction of the National Mediation Board. The agreement permitted the service of additional Section (6) notices by the company as counterproposals to the organization's notices. On December 5, 1960, the company served a Section (6) notice on the organization proposing the compulsory retirement of Pullman conductors at age sixty-six on and after January 1, 1962, and at age sixty-five on and after January 1, 1963.

The National Mediation Board terminated its services on August 4, 1961, and a strike was called for September 4, 1961.

All of the issues not settled by the mediation agreement were submitted to an Emergency Board appointed by the President of the United States on September 1, 1961, pursuant to Section 10 of the Railway Labor Act.

The Emergency Board reported to the President on December 11, 1961. The Board listed twenty-five issues in dispute that were yet unresolved. The Board's discussion in its report of the issue of "Job Stabilization and ...

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