organization or labor organizations duly designated and authorized to represent employees in accordance with the requirements of this chapter shall be permitted --
'(a) to make agreements, requiring, as a condition of continued employment, that within sixty days following the beginning of such employment, or the effective date of such agreements, whichever is the later, all employees shall become members of the labor organization representing their craft or class * * *.'
Several observations must be made about these statutory provisions. The first is that employees have 'the right to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing.' Fourth, supra. (Emphasis added.) There is no requirement that they bargain collectively. Such freedom to bargain collectively or not is reinforced by the provision that no carrier 'shall require any person seeking employment to sign any contract or agreement promising to join or not to join a labor organization * * *.' Fifth, supra. (Emphasis added.) Only where a carrier and the employers have mutually agreed upon a union shop must an employee agree to join a labor organization. Eleventh, supra. Thus freedom of association or non-association is emphasized in the statutory language.
Of course, the statutory scheme does assume that, in most cases, employees will bargain collectively. The whole scheme assumes that there are 'disputes' between the carrier or carriers on one side, and the employees on the other. Second, supra. The statute then establishes machinery for the determination of who among the employees will be the bargaining representative, Ninth, supra, and requires that the carrier keep out of such machinery. Third, Fourth, Fifth, supra. But if true employer-employee 'disputes' do not happen to arise in such an across-the-board fashion, as seems to be the case when there are a variety of different individual agreements between employer and employee negotiated, by the wishes of both parties, on a one-to-one basis, then the assumption behind the statute disappears, and the whole point behind having the collective bargaining representative disappears. The issue in this case is whether employees have a right to vote, in effect, that such employer-employee 'disputes' do not happen to exist in their particular category of employment, and whether if the Board decides to hold the 'secret ballot' provided in Ninth, supra, such employees have a right to indicate their preference on the ballot?
It is not surprising that the statute as such does not answer this question. Congress, in 1934, was concentrating upon erecting machinery which would force reluctant employers to deal with the chosen representatives of their employees. Virginian Ry. Co. v. System Federation No. 40, 300 U.S. 515, 538-549, 57 S. Ct. 592, 81 L. Ed. 789 (1937). There are strong indications, however, that Congress intended employees to be free not to associate as well as to associate. Thus the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, in reporting the bill containing the 1934 amendments which put teeth in the Act, declared:
2. It provides that employees shall be free to join any labor union of their choice and likewise be free to refrain from joining any union if that be their desire and forbids interference by the carriers' officers with the exercise of said rights. H.R.Rep. No. 1944 to accompany H.R. 9861, 73d Cong., 2d Sess., 2 (1934).
During the hearings on this and related bills, Commissioner Joseph P. Eastman, Federal Co-Ordinator of Transportation and 'draftsman of the 1934 amendments,' Switchmen's Union, supra, 320 U.S. at 302, 64 S. Ct. at 97, testified as follows:
MR. HUDDLESTON: 'Well, as I get your idea it is the purpose of this bill not to coerce organizations and not necessarily to imply an organization.'