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Soo Line Railroad Company v. Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

November 21, 2014

SOO LINE RAILROAD COMPANY, Plaintiff-Counterclaim Defendant,
v.
BROTHERHOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS AND TRAINMEN and UNITED TRANSPORTATION UNION, Defendants-Counterclaim Plaintiffs

Page 903

For Soo Line Railroad Company, Plaintiff, Counter Defendant: Charles W Webster, LEAD ATTORNEY, Soo Line Railroad d/b/a Canadian Pacific, Franklin Park, IL; James Stanton Whitehead, LEAD ATTORNEY, Sidley Austin LLP (Chicago), Chicago, IL.

For Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, Defendant, Counter Claimant: Margo Pave, LEAD ATTORNEY, Zwerdling, Paul, Leibig, Kahn, and Wolly, Washington, DC; Ryan A Hagerty, Asher, Gittler & D'Alba, Chicago, IL.

For United Transportation Union, doing business as Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, Defendant: Erika A Diehl-Gibbons, Kevin C. Brodar, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Smart Transportation Division, North Olmsted, OH; Robert Earl Harrington, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, Harrington, Thompson, Acker & Harrington, Ltd., Chicago, IL.

FOR United Transportation Union, Counter Claimant: Erika A Diehl-Gibbons, Kevin C. Brodar, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Smart Transportation Division, North Olmsted, OH; Robert Earl Harrington, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, Harrington, Thompson, Acker & Harrington, Ltd., Chicago, IL.

Page 904

OPINION AND ORDER

Judge Joan H. Lefkow, Judge

This case arises from a labor dispute between Soo Line Railroad Company (" Soo" ) and two unions, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (" BLET" ) and the United Transportation Union (" UTU" ), about the creation of a cross-border freight pool between Thief River Falls, Minnesota and Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Soo initiated the suit, seeking a declaratory judgment that the dispute is subject to mandatory arbitration under the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. § § 151 et seq. (" RLA" ). (Dkt. 1.) The unions counterclaimed and requested the court declare that the dispute is subject to the mandatory bargaining provisions of the RLA. (Dkt. 9.) The unions also moved for a " status quo" injunction to prevent Soo from implementing the cross-border freight pool during the resolution of the dispute. (Dkt. 10.) The court ordered an evidentiary hearing on the preliminary injunction motion ( see dkt. 29), which was held on November 6, 2014. For the reasons discussed below, the unions' request for a preliminary injunction is denied. The parties are to report for a status hearing on December 18, 2014 at 11:00 a.m.

FACTS

Soo, an indirect subsidiary of Canadian Pacific Railway Company (" Canadian Pacific" ), operates a railroad system across a number of Midwestern states. Soo's trains are typically crewed by one engineer and one conductor. The engineers are represented by BLET and the conductors are represented by UTU. The rates of pay, rules, and working conditions that apply to Soo's engineers and conductors are governed by Soo's labor agreements with BLET and UTU. The agreements provide formulas for calculation of rates of pay and other benefits (such as stipends for meals and lodging) in the event Soo establishes a new route.

Soo uses what is known as a " through freight pool" to staff its trains. The pool supplies engineers and conductors for certain routes or " runs," and members of the pool are available on a " first in, first out" basis to fill assignments on those runs. On Mondays, Soo posts job bulletins that announce the freight pools for the following week and crew members are able to bid on their preferred pool. Positions within the pool generally are awarded in accordance with seniority. If a pool is not filled through the bidding process, Soo may force-assign the junior crew member not already assigned to a pool.

Soo's terminal in Thief River Falls, Minnesota serves as the designated home terminal for 22 engineers and 22 conductors. Prior to this dispute, these crew members supplied a through freight pool for a run from Thief River Falls to Noyes, Minnesota (a distance of about 79 miles) and back. Noyes is located on the Canadian border, adjacent to Canadian Pacific's terminal in Emerson, Manitoba. At Noyes, Soo's crew would hand off trains to Canadian Pacific for destinations in Canada and would receive trains from Canadian Pacific for destinations in the ...


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