of November 2, 1959 (from which the defendants herein withdrew and subsequently, on September 16, 1960, filed separate section 6 notices). The Supreme Court noted that the railroads involved in that action had concluded mediation and thereby exhausted the statutory procedures. The Southern has not exhausted their statutory remedies as their section 6 notices are still pending before the Mediation Board and their section 4 controversy is before the Adjustment Board.
The issue has been raised as to whether this is a 'major' or a 'minor' dispute, interpretative terms under the Railway Labor Act. If major, it is generally conceded that the Norris-LaGuardia Act prohibits the issuance of an injunction. Order of Railroad Telegraphers v. Chicago & N.W. Ry. Co., 1960, 362 U.S. 330, 80 S. Ct. 761, 4 L. Ed. 2d 774.
However, in the above cited case, suit was brought to enjoin a threatened strike. In the instant case, the Court is asked to require the carriers to return to the status quo pending settlement of the dispute. And, as the Seventh Circuit stated in Hilbert v. Penn. R.R. Co., 1961, 290 F.2d 881, cert. denied 368 U.S. 900, 82 S. Ct. 174, 7 L. Ed. 2d 963, 'Nothing in the Norris-LaGuardia Act prevents a federal court from granting an injunction to require an employer to retain the status quo.'
In Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. Chicago R. & I.R. Co., 1957, 353 U.S. 30, 77 S. Ct. 635, 1 L. Ed. 2d 622, the Supreme Court addressed itself to the question of whether the federal courts can compel compliance with the provisions of the Act to the extent of enjoining a union from striking to defeat the jurisdiction of the Adjustment Board. The court, 353 U.S. at page 40, 77 S. Ct. at page 640, 1 L. Ed. 2d 622, held 'that the Norris-LaGuardia Act cannot be read alone in matters dealing with railway labor disputes. There must be an accommodation of that statute and the Railway Labor Act so that the obvious purpose in the enactment of each is preserved.'
Here, the purpose of the Railway Labor Act would be subverted and the jurisdiction of the Adjustment Board would be avoided if the Court permitted the carrier to submit a Section 6 notice to change the working conditions and, prior thereto, institute a new interpretation of that portion of the agreement which is the subject of the Section 6 notice.
In the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad case, supra, this same dispute was termed 'major' by the Supreme Court. But in that case both parties had exhausted all of the procedures under the Railway Labor Act. Such is not the situation in the instant case as this dispute is pending before both the National Mediation Board and the National Railroad Adjustment Board. The Court, therefore, finds that the Norris-LaGuardia Act does not prohibit this court from issuing an injunction to require the carriers to return to the status quo pending determination of the dispute by the National Railroad Adjustment Board.
This Court is mindful of the fact that the Brotherhood has not demonstrated it will suffer irreparable injury absent the mandatory injunction which the union requests. Such a showing is normally required in a court of equity when this extraordinary relief is granted. However, much more is involved here than the private rights and duties of individuals, usually the subject of this equitable relief. We are concerned here with eight separate companies, comprising more than seven thousand miles of railroad, including freight and passenger service, the interests of the public throughout the Southeastern United States, and a large and skilled craft of workmen with a long heritage of service to the railroads. In addition, we have the statutory dictates of Congress, which must be observed by the parties. These considerations place a greater burden on the Court and will not permit disposing of the matter simply on the lack of showing of any irreparable injury by the plaintiff.
As the Supreme Court stated in Virginian Railway Co. v. System Federation No. 40, 1937, 300 U.S. 515, 551, 57 S. Ct. 592, 601, 81 L. Ed. 789,
'In considering the propriety of the equitable relief granted here, we cannot ignore the judgment of Congress, deliberately expressed in legislation * * *'.
'More is involved than the settlement of a private controversy without appreciable consequences to the public. The peaceable settlement of labor controversies, especially where they may seriously impair the ability of an interstate rail carrier to perform its service to the public, is a matter of public concern. * * * Courts of equity may, and frequently do, go much farther both to give and withhold relief in furtherance of the public interest than they are accustomed to go when only private interests are involved.'
In accordance with the foregoing, the Court finds:
1. That it has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the Section 4 dispute so far as the claims of the respective parties are concerned; that as a matter exclusively within the jurisdiction of the National Railroad Adjustment Board.
2. That a determination of the merits of the dispute over Section 4 of the agreement is now pending before the National Railroad Adjustment Board, the same having been filed on January 14, 1963.
3. That this Court has jurisdiction to issue injunctive relief to maintain the status quo during the pendency of the action before the National Railroad Adjustment Board.
The Court therefore will order and direct:
(1) That an injunction issue to return the parties to the status quo which existed prior to 1959;
(2) That the defendants will follow the procedures employed in interpretation of section 4 from 1950 to 1959; and further,
(3) That these conditions must be maintained until changed by the determination of the National Railroad Adjustment Board; or
(4) until the agreement is modified in accordance with the Railway Labor Act.
Counsel will submit proper order.
© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.