the crew is on duty from five to six hours. Plaintiff's
position is that the meals rules do not apply to Falcon trains
since they fall into the "exceptional circumstances" exception
outlined in Award No. 2371. They make "very short trips" and
certain contractual obligations require compliance with more
rigid schedules than exist in normal operations.
Whether plaintiff's position has merit or not need not be
determined by this Court for it is clear from the recitation
of these facts that plaintiff is not attempting to change the
terms of the collective bargaining agreements. Indeed, it
fully recognizes its obligations under the existing
agreements. It merely seeks further illumination of the
Award's provisions. Moreover, although defendant assert that
some 70 violations of the meals en route rule have been
reported to the UTU, there is no evidence that those claims
have been verified or subjected to the initial grievance
procedures. Thus, the only ripe claims are those three cases
involving trains 141, 247 and 273, which have been submitted
to SBA No. 235, and those involving Falcon trains, which,
plaintiff argues, fall outside the mandates of the rules.
Unless the claims under the contract are frivolous or so
insubstantial that they must be viewed as an attempt to mask
their true nature, the controversy must be characterized as a
minor dispute. United Transportation Union v. Baker,
499 F.2d 727, 730 (7th Cir. 1974), cert. denied, 419 U.S. 839, 95 S.Ct.
69, 42 L.Ed.2d 66 (1974). Accord, United Transportation Union
v. Penn Central Transportation Co., 505 F.2d 542 (3d Cir.
1974). Based on the demonstration of past efforts to comply
with the meals rule, the continued efforts to seek further
explanation of the rule from SBA No. 235 and the deliberately
broad definition of "exceptional circumstances," plaintiff's
assertion that the collective bargaining agreements do not
require stops on all routes is not frivolous. Therefore, this
is a minor dispute requiring compliance with the arbitration
procedures of the Act. See Andrews v. Louisville & Nashville
R.R., 406 U.S. 320, 92 S.Ct. 1562, 32 L.Ed.2d 95 (1972);
Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. Chicago River & Indiana,
353 U.S. 30, 77 S.Ct. 635, 1 L.Ed.2d 622 (1957); United
Transportation Union v. Baker, 499 F.2d 727 (7th Cir. 1974),
cert. denied, 419 U.S. 839, 95 S.Ct. 69, 42 L.Ed.2d 66 (1974).
Plaintiff has also demonstrated that it will sustain
irreparable injury if the injunction does not issue, and that
a major disruption of passenger and freight transportation
within interstate commerce will result. Plaintiff will be
deprived of a very substantial portion of its revenue which
amounts to approximately $2,000,000 a day. A strike will cause
diversion of traffic from this carrier which it may never
regain. Moreover, the public will be deprived of important
services such as the mail and commuter transportation in the
Chicago area. Since plaintiff is an important link in the
transcontinental rail service, a strike would cause congestion
along alternate routes, causing delays in rail traffic. Also,
a strike may generate increased unemployment in areas served
by plaintiff. For instance, plaintiff is the sole shipper of
parts to automobile plants in Kenosha and Janesville,
Wisconsin and Belvidere, Illinois. Those plants may be forced
to shut down should the parts not arrive.
Defendants argue that the injunction should be denied
because plaintiff failed to comply with Section 8 of the
Norris-LaGuardia Act, 29 U.S.C. § 108. The section prohibits
injunctive relief "to any complainant who has failed to comply
with any obligation imposed by law which is involved in the
labor dispute in question, or who has failed to make every
reasonable effort to settle such dispute either by negotiation
or with the aid of any available governmental machinery of
mediation or voluntary arbitration." 29 U.S.C. § 108.
Essentially, a charge of non-compliance with Section 108 is
equivalent to the equitable defense of unclean hands.
This case involves six incidents of violations to the meals
rules. Three of the grievances have been submitted to the SBA
No. 235. The other three grievances involve
Falcon trains which plaintiff asserts do not fall within the
meals rules' provisions. With respect to those trains, the
plaintiff has requested the independent member of SBA No. 235
to issue an interpretation of Awards Nos. 2314 and 2371 and
the definition of "exceptional circumstances" and "short
trip." Under these circumstances, failure to comply with
Section 8 has not been established.
Further, in Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. Akron &
Barkerton Belt R.R., 385 F.2d 581, 614 (D.C.Cir. 1967), cert.
denied, 390 U.S. 923, 88 S.Ct. 851, 19 L.Ed.2d 983 (1968), a
case relied upon by defendants, the court noted that in certain
circumstances a lack of unclean hands may be subrogated to
consideration of the public interest. The substantial
disruption of interstate commerce and the adverse effects on
the economy in the areas served by plaintiff have already been
noted. Compared with the small number of substantiated
grievances involved here, the scales decisively tip on the side
of the public interest.
Accordingly, plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction