from counsel for plaintiff and defendants on June 4, 1992, and independently researching the legal issues, we conclude that plaintiff has satisfied each of these elements.
As an initial matter, we have considered and reject defendants' argument that the Norris-LaGuardia Act ("NLGA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 101-15 et seq. and the Supreme Court's opinion in Buffalo Forge Co. v. United Steelworkers of America, 428 U.S. 397, 96 S. Ct. 3141, 49 L. Ed. 2d 1022 (1976), deprive this court of jurisdiction to issue an injunction. We are satisfied that the Railway Labor Act ("RLA") controls in this situation. In fact, the Supreme Court in Burlington Northern Railroad Co. v. Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes, 481 U.S. 429, 107 S. Ct. 1841, 95 L. Ed. 2d 381 (1987), expressly recognized that the NLGA does not bar federal courts from issuing injunctions to enforce the requirements of the RLA. See also Long Island Railroad Co. v. Int'l Ass'n of Machinists, 874 F.2d 901, 909 (2d Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 1042 (1990); Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority v. Brotherhood of Railway Signalmen, 882 F.2d 778, 789 (3d Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 1044, 110 S. Ct. 840, 107 L. Ed. 2d 835 (1990). Therefore, we find that the NLGA may not be read alone in matters dealing with railway labor disputes. In our view, there must be an accommodation of the NLGA, and the RLA, so that the purpose of the RLA is preserved.
The RLA is designed to prevent the disruption of the nation's rail service by providing for the "prompt and orderly settlement" of disputes between labor and management "growing out of grievances or out of the interpretation or application of agreements covering rates of pay, rules, or working conditions." 45 U.S.C. § 151a. By its terms, the RLA sets forth an arbitration and mediation process designed to settle all "major" and "minor" disputes between a carrier and its employees. Based on our interpretation of relevant case law, and the facts as presented to us by counsel, we are satisfied that the issue raised in this case is a minor dispute.
A minor dispute "relates either to the meaning or proper application of a particular provision in a collective bargaining agreement with reference to a specific situation or to an omitted case." Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, 882 F.2d at 782. Minor disputes are subject to arbitration before the National Railroad Adjustment Board. 45 U.S.C. § 153 (1982). In our opinion, the parties are essentially disputing whether the applicable collective bargaining agreements allow sympathy strikes. It is undisputed that the collective bargaining agreements are silent on this point. The agreements do not contain a "no-strike" clause. Clearly, the proper interpretation of a collective bargaining agreement is a minor dispute under the RLA. See, e.g., Chicago & Northwestern Transportation Corp. v. United Transportation Union, 656 F.2d 274, 278 (7th Cir. 1981) ("Minor disputes . . . are controversies over the meaning of an existing collective bargaining agreement . . . it involves the interpretation or application of the already existing agreement."); Missouri Pacific Railroad Co. v. United Transportation Union, 782 F.2d 107, 111 (8th Cir. 1986) (a minor dispute involves the meaning of an existing collective bargaining agreement). We conclude that whether the collective bargaining agreements allow sympathy strikes is a minor dispute within the meaning of the RLA.
Having made this determination, we now address whether a TRO should issue pending mediation. The issuance of a TRO in this case is appropriate. See Long Island Railroad Co. v. Int'l Ass'n of Machinists, 874 F.2d 901 (2d Cir. 1989) (sympathy strike enjoined under the RLA notwithstanding absence of "no strike" clause in the collective bargaining agreement); Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority v. Brotherhood of Railway Signalmen, 882 F.2d 778 (3d Cir. 1989) (sympathy strike enjoinable under minor dispute resolution procedures of RLA); Northwest Airlines, Inc. v. Air Line Pilots Ass'n, Int'l, 442 F.2d 251 (8th Cir. 1970), aff'd on rehearing, 442 F.2d 251 (8th Cir.) (same); Chicago & Illinois Midland Railway Co. v. Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, 315 F.2d 771 (7th Cir.) (sympathy strike enjoinable where no effort made to comply with minor dispute resolution procedures of RLA), vacated as moot, 375 U.S. 18, 84 S. Ct. 61, 11 L. Ed. 2d 39 (1963). Cf. Chicago & Northwestern Transportation Co. v. Railway Labor Executives' Ass'n, 908 F.2d 144 (7th Cir. 1990).
Irreparable harm will result to BN because large amounts of the traffic and train transportation business now held and enjoyed by BN will be diverted to other transportation agencies and may be permanently lost to BN for the reason that it will be unable to provide the customary and usual service to its customers. Any loss of business occasioned by the sympathy strike and defendants' refusal to work is difficult to quantify in monetary terms. Thus, the court concludes that BN does not have an adequate remedy at law and that BN will suffer irreparable harm if the TRO is not granted.
In addition, we agree with BN that the shipping public will be greatly inconvenienced and injured by reason of BN's being rendered incapable of performing its usual and customary services to the public. We believe there is a considerable public interest in keeping a major rail carrier, such as BN, operational. Moreover, in balancing the harms to the parties, the TRO will not cause harm to defendants. The defendants will not be economically harmed because they have no economic stake in the unrelated labor dispute between IBT Local 705 and CIC. The balance of the harms to the parties and the public clearly favors the granting of the TRO.
Lastly, in light of our discussion regarding the RLA, we believe that there is a likelihood of success on the merits. After careful consideration of the facts in light of the factors relevant to the issuance of a TRO, the court holds that BN is entitled to a TRO to maintain the status quo until the hearing for a preliminary injunction is held on June 15, 1992 at 10:00 a.m. The parties are ordered to submit a draft order by 2:00 p.m. today. The court's order dated June 4, 1992, directing the parties to address the applicability of the NLGA and Buffalo Forge is vacated as moot. It is so ordered.
JAMES H. ALESIA
United States District Judge
Date: JUN 05 1992
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