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UNITED STATES v. BROTHERHOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGRS.

July 2, 1948

UNITED STATES
v.
BROTHERHOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GOLDSBOROUGH

At our last hearing the Court ruled that in the matter of venue this case was controlled by Title 29, Section 185, subsection (c) U.S.C.A., which reads as follows:

'For the purposes of actions and proceedings by or against labor organizations in the district courts of the United States, district courts shall be deemed to have jurisdiction of a labor organization. (1) in the district in which such organization maintains its principal office, or (2) in any district in which its duly authorized officers or agents are engaged in representing or acting for employee members.'

 The Court thinks that as to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, there can be no controversy that they are liable to suit in the District of Columbia. The Court also thinks that the Switchmen's Union of North America is liable to suit in the District of Columbia. Its President is a member of the organization, known as the Railway Labor Executives Association, which is representing its employees and the employees of these unions in the District of Columbia. Section 10 of the bylaws of the Railway Labor Executives Association reads as follows:

 'No member shall be obligated or bound by any action of the Association inconsistent with the laws or policies of the organization he represents, but no action, legal or otherwise, involving the Railway Labor Act, (45 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq.), shall be taken by any organization or group of organizations that may substantially affect the interests of the other organizations, until such contemplated action has first been considered by the Association.'

 The amendments to the bylaws also state:

 'That headquarters will be established for office of the Executive Secretary-Treasurer at Washington, D.C., provisions to be made for the necessary office equipment and personnel, same to be first approved by this Association; that the Executive Secretary-Treasurer will be required to make his home in Washington, D.C., and shall assume the duties of his office on June 1, 1938.'

 The undisputed testimony is that this organization has been in the habit of meeting about every two months in the District of Columbia. Recently it has been meeting about once a month in the District of Columbia. It is also testified that the organization is registered under the Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act, 2 U.S.C.A. § 261 et seq., and in that connection represents the Switchmen's Union of North America along with other organizations.

 The Court also calls attention that in this case service was made upon the Chief Executive Officer of each one of these organizations, and therefore there can be no question that the organizations had due notice of the fact that they had been sued.

 Now, that disposes of the question of venue. The Court thinks that the question as to whether or not this case is controlled by the United States v. United Mine Workers, 330 U.S. 258, 67 S. Ct. 677, 91 L. Ed. 884, is more a matter of law than a matter of the understanding of different individuals as to what was said at a conversation between the heads of these Brotherhoods and the Secretary of the Army. The authority of the Secretary of the Army is governed by the law and not by anything in any more or less desultory conversation which took place between him and the heads of the Brotherhoods at the time of the meeting.

 The Secretary of the Army took the position that he didn't think he should interfere as long as the President was conducting the negotiations with Dr. Steelman's assistance, and that that is all he meant by anything he may have said at this meeting, but the Court wants to emphasize the fact that the Court thinks that his power to act is controlled by the law, and in view of the fact that the government had taken over the railways he had the authority to act on behalf of the government and take such action as seemed to be wise and proper under the circumstances.

 The Court doesn't think at all that the fact that the government didn't see fit to change and alter the railway setup throughout the country, but decided to allow the railroads to be conducted in the usual manner unless and until it was finally determined that the negotiations would not be successful, in any way indicates that the United States didn't have actual control of the railroads and was not the employer of the employees of the seized carriers.

 The Court sees no difference whatever in principle between this case and the case just referred to -- the United Mine Workers case decided in 1947. Therefore, the Court has no doubt that this injunction should be made permanent.

 The Court also thinks, very definitely, that there is a much broader aspect to this whole situation. Assuming that the United States had not taken over the railroads, but had simply brought this action against the Brotherhoods, the Court thinks that the injunction should still have been made permanent, and the reason is this: While the Court takes the view that the Norris-LaGuardia Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 101 et seq., in order to carry out its obvious purpose, which is to give labor a comparable bargaining power with capital, should not only be liberally construed, but most liberally construed, the Court is also very definitely of the opinion that it should not and cannot be literally construed. To take what the Court thinks is an analogous situation. Suppose in a hotel, there is a strict rule -- there can be no deviations from it at all -- there is a strict rule that the employees shall go out a side entrance and the the guests shall go out the front entrance. Now, that is a strict rule. There are no exceptions to that rule, but a fire takes place, and a fire prevents the employees from going out the side entrance. Would anybody say that they were violating the rules of the hotel if they used the front entrance? There is an implication there, a necessary implication, and a limitation under the rules, and so it is in this case, the court thinks. Of course, the rights of the unions, under the labor laws passed in the last quarter of a century, are well recognized. They can organize, they can argue for their rights, they can't be discharged because they are trying to create a situation which they think will improve their condition.

 Let's see what this notice is that was sent out to employees -- this strike notice, on April 29, 1948:

 'So far as your legal right to strike is concerned there is no difference between a mail train and any other train. You have identically the same right to refuse to perform service on a mail train as you have to refuse to perform service on any other train. Men in road and yard service are to handle and transport troop trains, hospital trains and milk trains, with the understanding that no other service is to be performed in connection therewith.'

 In face of the fact that the unions have had the benefit of the Railway Labor Board, an impartial body, the Mediation Service, an impartial body, the Board of Inquiry appointed by the President, an impartial body, they sent out that notice, which meant that the rail transportation system of the country, at six o'clock on a certain morning, would simply stop.

 The undisputed evidence that 90 per cent of the mail could not be handled and the undisputed evidence that 70 to 72 per cent of the freight and passenger traffic could not be handled, simply means that in a few weeks hunger would stalk the country, the whole economic and political system would be upset, political ideologies which are opposed to the democratic ideology would have an opportunity to engraft themselves here in this country, our influence throughout the world would be done away with and we would become a laughing stock. It is an extreme case, and it constitutes, in this Court's opinion, a limitation upon the power of a labor union to carry out its purposes, however legitimate they may be, by the strike process.

 The Court is thoroughly familiar with the Norris-LaGuardia Act. As I have said before, I don't think Congressman La-Guardia ever advocated anything when he was in the House of Representatives where I didn't support him, and I don't think I ever advocated anything in the House of Representatives where he didn't support me.

 The purpose of the Act, as I said before, was to give labor a comparable bargaining power with capital, but to permit a strike of this kind to take place is an extreme situation which society is not required to tolerate under the Norris-LaGuardia Act, and the injunctive process is a proper one to pursue. See In re Debs, 158 U.S. 564, 15 S. Ct. 900, 39 L. Ed. 1092. The Court wants to emphasize that the Court is of the opinion that the United Mine Workers case, 330 U.S. 258, 67 S. Ct. 677, 91 L. Ed. 884, is controlling. The Court also wants to emphasize the Court's deliberate opinion that the Norris-LaGuardia Act does not control a situation where the entire transportation system of the country would be stopped. The Court will grant the permanent injunction, gentlemen.

 Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.

 Upon consideration of plaintiff's application for a final injunction, the evidence adduced on July 1, 1948, at the hearing on the application, the pleadings, briefs, arguments of counsel, and the entire record in this cause, the Court hereby makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.

 Findings of Fact.

 1. On January 16, 1948, the defendants herein issued a strike call to become effective as to the carriers designated therein ...


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