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Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen v. Union Pacific Railroad Co

November 18, 2011

BROTHERHOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS AND TRAINMEN, PETITIONER,
v.
UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD CO., RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On October 15, 2010, Petitioner Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen ("BLET") petitioned the Court pursuant to Section 3, First (q) of the Railway Labor Act ("RLA"), 45 U.S.C. § 151 et seq., to review and set aside parts of the National Railroad Adjustment Board, First Division's ("NRAB") Award No. 26700 and Public Law Board No. 7228's ("PLB 7228") Award No. 27.*fn1 Before the Court is Respondent Union Pacific Railroad Company's ("Union Pacific") and BLET's cross-motions for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Federal Procedure 56. For the reasons below, the Court grants Union Pacific's motion, denies BLET's motion, and dismisses the lawsuit in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

Respondent Union Pacific is a railroad engaged in interstate commerce and is a carrier subject to the RLA. (R. 35, Resp.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 1.) Petitioner BLET is a labor organization duly authorized to represent Union Pacific's locomotive engineers under the RLA. (Id. ¶ 2; R. 30, Pet.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 1.)

Union Pacific and BLET are parties to a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") that is applicable to Union Pacific's locomotive engineers and includes a System Agreement -- Discipline Rule ("Rule") governing all discipline of locomotive engineers. (Resp.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 3; Pet.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 3.) The Rule contains the parties' grievance procedures. (Resp.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 4.) Under the Rule, when a potential disciplinary event occurs, Union Pacific must first conduct a fair and impartial investigation to determine if the engineer is at fault. (Id.) Following a hearing, a Union Pacific superintendent decides whether to impose discipline. (Id.) This decision must issue within 10 days of the investigation hearing. (Id. ¶ 5.) The Rule also provides that, if Union Pacific finds the engineer was not at fault following the investigation hearing or if Union Pacific fails to issue its disciplinary decision within 10 days, Union Pacific must pay the engineer for any time lost. (Id. ¶ 6.) If Union Pacific imposes discipline, BLET has the right to appeal that decision and the appeal must be made within 60 days of the superintendent's decision. (Id. ¶ 7.) Union Pacific then has 60 days to respond, but if Union Pacific fails to timely respond, Union Pacific must pay the engineer for time lost and clear the engineer's record of the discipline at issue. (Id.) If the locomotive engineer or the BLET is unhappy with the results of the appeal, the matter may be taken to arbitration within one year of the denial of the appeal. (Id. ¶ 8.)

On January 22, 2004, Union Pacific held a disciplinary investigation hearing to determine whether locomotive engineer E.L. Blann failed to control the movement of his train at the Marion Yard in Memphis, Tennessee on November 3, 2003. (Id. ¶ 12; Pet.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 9.)

Eight days after the hearing, by letter dated January 30, 2004, Union Pacific terminated Blann's employment. (Resp.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 13; Pet.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 10.) BLET appealed Union Pacific's decision to discharge Blann by letter dated March 27, 2004. (Resp.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 14; Pet.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 11.) Less than 60 days later, Union Pacific denied BLET's appeal by letter dated May 17, 2004. (Resp.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 15; Pet.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 12.) BLET submitted the dispute regarding the propriety of Blann's discharge to the NRAB. (Resp.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 16; Pet.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 13.)

Following both parties' submissions of arguments and evidence, the NRAB issued Award No. 26700 ("Blann Award") on October 24, 2008. (Resp.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 17; Pet.'s Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 17, 21.) The Blann Award overturned Blann's dismissal and ordered that he be reinstated and "made whole for lost wages and benefits from the time of his dismissal until he is reinstated." (Resp.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 18, Pet.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 23.) The NRAB also stated that Union Pacific was "entitled to offset any outside earnings received by [Blann] for the period we have found [Union Pacific] has a backpay liability." (Pet.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 24.)

On February 25, 2008, Union Pacific selected locomotive engineer L.L. Johnson for random drug testing and he was unable to produce a urine specimen within the three-hour period allotted by Union Pacific's policy. (Resp.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 20; Pet.'s Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 26, 27.) On April 23, 2008, Union Pacific conducted a disciplinary investigation into whether it should terminate Johnson's employment for violating its drug and alcohol policy. (Resp.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 21.) Seven days after the hearing, Union Pacific notified Johnson that it was terminating his employment, and thereafter, BLET appealed Union Pacific's decision to discharge Johnson by letter dated June 18, 2008. (Id. ¶¶ 22, 23; Pet.'s Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 30, 31.) Less than 60 days later, Union Pacific denied BLET's appeal by letter dated July 23, 2008. (Resp.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 24; Pet.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 32.) BLET submitted a claim regarding the propriety of Johnson's discharge to PLB 7228. (Resp.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 25.)

Following the parties' submissions of arguments and evidence, the PLB issued Award No. 27 ("Johnson Award") on November 10, 2008. (Resp.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 26; Pet.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 33.) The Johnson Award overturned Johnson's dismissal and ordered that he be reinstated to his former position without loss of seniority and made whole for all lost earnings. (Resp.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 27; Pet.'s Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 40, 41.) The PLB further held that Union Pacific "shall be entitled to offset from its backpay liability any earnings [Johnson] received from the time of his dismissal until he is reinstated." (Pet.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 42.)

SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A genuine dispute as to any material fact exists if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). In determining summary judgment motions, "facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a 'genuine' dispute as to those facts." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007). The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). After "a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party 'must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255 (quotation omitted).

In connection with their cross-motions for summary judgment, the parties submitted a joint record of the underlying arbitration proceedings before the NRAB and PLB 7228. Under Section 3, First (q) of the RLA, a board's findings "shall be conclusive on the parties." See 45 U.S.C. § 153(q); see also Bh'd of Locomotive Eng'rs v. Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Ry. Co., 768 F.2d 914, 921 (7th Cir. 1985) (standard of review for decisions by National Railroad Adjustment Board and Public Law Boards are same). The Court concurs in the parties' agreement that the matter is ripe for adjudication by ...


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