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AIR LINE PILOTS ASS'N v. UNITED AIR LINES

June 7, 1985

AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION INTERNATIONAL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED AIR LINES, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bua, District Judge.

ORDER

Before the Court is the defendant's motion to strike the plaintiff's prayer for injunctive relief in a labor dispute. For the reasons stated herein, defendant's motion is denied.

I. FACTS

Plaintiff Air Line Pilots Association, International ("ALPA") filed this suit for injunctive relief under the Railway Labor Act, as amended, 45 U.S.C. § 151 et seq. ("RLA"). The suit alleges that various conduct of defendant, United Air Lines, Inc. ("United") interfered with the collective bargaining negotiations between the parties resulting in a strike against United by ALPA. ALPA is the collective bargaining representative under the RIA for captains, first officers and second officers employed by United.

ALPA commenced its strike on May 17, 1985. The strike followed the parties' exhaustion of the mandatory negotiation and mediation procedures under the RLA and expiration of the 30-day statutory cooling-off period. 45 U.S.C. § 156. As its last official act immediately prior to the commencement of the cooling-off period, the National Mediation Board ("NMB") proffered its services to arbitrate the dispute. On the same day of the proffer, United rejected the arbitration proffer and the NMB officially terminated its services. ALPA did not accept the NMB proffer. The reasons for this nonacceptance are disputed.

The complaint alleges that United has engaged in a course of conduct both before and during the strike consisting of pervasive violations of basic rights of striking pilots under the RLA. ALPA seeks preliminary and permanent injunctive relief against United's unlawful conduct. The principal issue between the parties turned on rates to be paid to new hire pilots (the so-called "two tier" wage issue). While the parties have worked out a compromise on the two-tier wage issue, there remains the issue of a back-to-work agreement and United's alleged unlawful conduct in relation to that agreement and its underlying negotiations.

II. DISCUSSION

The key issues raised by the defendant's motion are (1) whether ALPA must accept the NMB proffer before going into court to obtain injunctive relief, even though United rejected the proffer, and (2) if so, did ALPA fail to make every reasonable effort to settle the dispute, before and during the strike, when it did not accept the NMB proffer.

It is well settled that a party seeking injunctive relief under the Railway Labor Act must comply with Section 8 of the Norris-La Guardia Act. 29 U.S.C. § 108. Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, Enterprise Lodge, No. 27 v. Toledo, P. & W. R.R., 321 U.S. 50, 64 S.Ct. 413, 88 L.Ed. 534 (1944) ("Toledo R.R."). Section 8 of the Norris-La Guardia Act provides:

  No restraining order or injunctive relief shall
  be granted to any complainant 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.

This provision is almost identical to Section 2, First, of the RLA, which imposes on all parties the duty to make every reasonable effort to settle the dispute. 45 U.S.C. § 152, First. Since Section 8 is congruent with the RLA, the party seeking injunctive relief under the RLA should be held to Section 8's requirements. Local 553, Transport Workers v. Eastern Air Lines, 695 F.2d 668, 679 (2d Cir. 1982).

The Supreme Court in Toledo R.R., supra, held that Section 8 would bar a complainant from injunctive relief if he had not submitted the dispute to arbitration. Toledo R.R., supra, 321 U.S. at 63, 64 S.Ct. at 420; Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway Company v. Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, 302 F.2d 540 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 371 U.S. 823, 83 S.Ct. 42, 9 L.Ed.2d 63 (1962). In Toledo R.R., the railroad, which sought the injunctive relief, refused to agree to arbitration while the union agreed to arbitrate the dispute. In reversing an injunction issued in the railroad's favor, the Supreme Court held:

  Arbitration under the Railway Labor Act was
  available, afforded a method for settlement
  Congress itself has provided, and until
  respondent accepted this method it has not made
  "every reasonable ...

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