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HARGROVE v. BROTHERHOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGRS.

November 3, 1953

HARGROVE et al.
v.
BROTHERHOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: PINE

This is a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground (1) that the court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of the action, and (2) that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

Plaintiffs are two individuals who sue on behalf of themselves and other persons similarly situated. Defendants are the Louisville & Nashville R.R. Co., the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen. The Railroad Co. moved to quash the purported service of process made upon it on the ground that it was not 'doing business' in the District of Columbia, and its motion was granted. This leaves the two brotherhoods as the only defendants, and it is their motion which is now before me.

According to the complaint, the following facts appear: Plaintiffs were employed by the Railroad Co. from July 1, 1946, to September 1, 1949, one as a locomotive engineer and the other as a locomotive fireman. They were members in good standing of their respective brotherhoods, defendants herein, at all times material to this proceeding. There are many other persons similarly situated who are so numerous as to make it impracticable to bring them all before the court.

 During 1942 and 1943 the United States acquired land in Tennessee, which became known as the Oak Ridge Project for the development of atomic energy. On the land so acquired, the United States constructed railroad tracks and other facilities for the switching and movement of engines and cars. Prior to July 1, 1946, this activity was performed by the United States through contractors. One of the contractors was Stone and Webster Engineering Company. Plaintiff Hargrove was employed at this project by this company as a locomotive fireman from December 1942 to February 1943, and as a locomotive engineer from February 1943 to July 1, 1946. Plaintiff Broome was employed at this project by this company as a locomotive fireman from June 1, 1943, to September 15, 1943, and as a locomotive engineer from September 15, 1943, to July 1, 1946. By virtue of their employment, plaintiffs acquired seniority rights not only as firemen but as engineers within the classes of employees performing such services within the Oak Ridge Reservation.

 On July 1, 1946, the Railroad Co. entered into a contract with the United States whereby it agreed to operate the tracks and facilities within the Reservation, and on the same date the defendant Brotherhoods, as the sole and exclusive bargaining representatives of the engineers and firemen in a unit of all such employees within the Reservation, entered into a collective bargaining agreement with the Railroad Co. This agreement concerned wages, hours, and working conditions of engineers and firemen employed by the Railroad within the Reservation, and provided in part that all engineers and firemen retained by the Railroad Co. after a 31-day probationary period would continue their employment in that capacity; that the employees so retained would accrue no rights on the Railroad Co. or any subdivision thereof, but would be given preference in their respective crafts based on seniority among themselves to regular positions which were in existence within the Reservation on July 31, 1946; that new assignments and re-established service would be manned by firemen and engineers employed by the Railroad Co. on its Knoxville and Atlanta Division, subject, however, to the preference rights of the retained operating personnel; that crews regularly assigned to service within the Reservation would not be permitted to perform any service outside this area; and that the rights of the engineers and firemen under the agreement would terminate concurrently with the termination of the contract between the Railroad Co. and the United States.

 In accordance with the provisions of this collective bargaining agreement, plaintiffs and other members of the class within the bargaining unit exercised their preference seniority rights to bid for available positions with the Railroad Co. solely within the Reservation. Following the 31-day probationary period, during which defendant Railroad Co. determined that plaintiffs and others were qualified, assignments were made to regular positions within the Reservation, one of the plaintiffs being employed as engineer and the other as fireman from July 1, 1946, to September 1, 1949, and other members of the class were employed for the same period in like positions. Throughout this period, they performed their work satisfactorily and accrued seniority rights applicable solely to the positions within the Reservation.

 On August 26, 1949, defendant Brotherhoods proposed to the Railroad Co. that the 1946 collective bargaining agreement be canceled and terminated. The Railroad Co. agreed to this proposal, and the defendants declared that the agreement was no longer in effect and that all rights acquired thereunder by the employees within the Oak Ridge Reservation, were abolished.

 On September 1, 1949, the Railroad Co., relying on the termination of the agreement, discharged plaintiffs and all others similarly situated and has refused and continued to refuse to acknowledge their seniority and other rights as well as repeated demands made by them for restitution of back pay and reinstatement to their previous positions within the Reservation. Instead, the Railroad Co. has filled the positions previously held by plaintiffs with railroad employees who, as members of the defendant Brotherhoods, had previously accrued seniority rights on the Knoxville and Atlanta Division of the Railroad Co., but who had not at any time prior to their replacement of plaintiffs acquired any seniority status to positions within the Oak Ridge Reservation.

 During the period when the 1946 agreement was in effect and at the time of its cancelation, defendant Brotherhoods, also represented for purposes of collective bargaining the engineers and firemen employed by the Railroad on its Knoxville and Atlanta Division, and such employees were by the terms of the agreement made subject to the preferential seniority rights of the plaintiffs and others similarly situated with respect to positions within the Oak Ridge Reservation, but they did accrue seniority and other rights with the Railroad Co. outside the Reservation, which rights were denied to firemen and engineers operating trains within the Reservation.

 In the course of negotiating and obtaining the cancelation of the 1946 agreement and in negotiating and executing subsequent collective bargaining agreements with the Railroad Co., defendant Brotherhoods did not seek or obtain any rights or benefits on behalf of plaintiffs and others similarly situated, as a result of which they were denied any contractual right to continue in their former positions based on previously acquired seniority, and the positions theretofore occupied by the plaintiffs and others within the Oak Ridge Reservation became exclusively available to the engineers and firemen of the Railroad Co. employed on the Knoxville and Atlanta Division.

 It is further alleged that, in canceling the 1946 agreement and executing the subsequent agreements which deprived plaintiffs and others similarly situated of the right to continue their employment with the Railroad Co. within the Oak Ridge Reservation, the defendant Brotherhoods 'completely and arbitrarily disregarded the legal duty, obligation and trust imposed upon them by the Railway Labor Act to equitably and in good faith bargain and act as sole and exclusive bargaining representative for and on behalf of the interests and rights of plaintiffs and other members of their class and in the course of such conduct defendant Brotherhoods unlawfully and arbitrarily discriminated against plaintiffs and others in like position with them by acting solely and exclusively for and on behalf of the firemen and engineers of the Knoxville and Atlanta Division of defendant Railroad Co. all in violation of the legal duty to protect equally, equitably and in good faith the interests of all the employees represented by said defendant Brotherhoods without arbitrarily sacrificing all of the rights of one unit of employees for the sole benefit of another group of employees.'

 Plaintiffs furthermore assert the invalidity of the cancelation agreement and the agreements subsequently made to replace the canceled agreement, set forth their injuries, and pray, among other things, that the defendants be enjoined from complying with the agreements to cancel the 1946 agreement, and that defendant Brotherhoods be enjoined from acting as the collective bargaining representatives of the plaintiffs or the firemen and engineers employed by the Railroad Co. within the Reservation so long as they shall not represent or act fairly on behalf of all the employees of the Railroad, including plaintiffs, or shall discriminate against them. They also pray for reinstatement and money damages.

 The first point raised is whether the court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter by reason of the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq., more particularly Sec. 3, First (i) thereof, as the same has been applied and construed by the courts, it being defendant's contention that jurisdiction over this dispute is vested ...


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