might be sustained, or disclose that it should not be tested by available criteria.
Whether the opportunity for preparation is reasonable depends upon an evaluation of all the relevant circumstances in the particular case. This is so for determination of a question of constitutionality no less than for decision of a matter lying in discretion.
On the one hand are the opportunities the organization had, the lack of demonstration that they were not ample, and the absence of a showing of prejudice. On the other hand are rulings of an arbitration body consistent both with its responsibilities and with any reliable standard discernible in the circumstances. Clearly, under such conditions, a deprivation of due process is not shown.
At the first meeting of the Board the organization urged that the hearings be held on strictly neutral ground. It suggested as possibilities the neutral member's office, a hotel, and a hearing room at the National Railroad Adjustment Board in Chicago. The neutral member considered his own office inadequate, and was disturbed by the necessity for prearrangement or the prospect of expense incidental to use of other locations suggested. The carrier having offered its conference room in Chicago's Union Station without cost, it was decided that the hearings be held there.
Special arbitration boards under the Railway Labor Act, the evidence reveals, usually conduct their hearings on the carrier's property. Some adjustment boards created under Award 282 have done likewise. A special board on the defendant carrier's line invariably hears cases in the same conference room in which the Special Board functioned. In reaching his decision the neutral member considered these customs, and as well the convenience of the site in the depot at which the organization's representatives and witnesses detrained upon arrival in Chicago for the hearings.
The organization argues, however, that the custom results from mutual understanding of the parties, and that other boards seldom hear live witnesses. It points to the quantity of oral testimony before the Special Board here and claims that the hearing site aroused in its witnesses a fear of reprisals. It says also that it was deprived of facilities wherein its witnesses might be privately interviewed and prepared.
These contentions do not withstand close scrutiny. The fact that the place for hearings is ordinarily a matter of agreement does not of itself establish the impropriety of a site upon the carrier's property. Aside from testimonial claim that the witnesses 'just did not want to be there,' there is nothing to show to what, if any, extent the organization was deprived of their testimony. Nor is there any indication that another hearing site, at which the carrier's representatives would have been present, would have relieved the apprehensions and inhibitions assumed. The organization never requested facilities in which to interview and prepare witnesses and it appears that had it done so they would have been provided.
It is well settled that adjudicatory bodies possess a broad discretion in fixing the place for hearings.
This discretion, of course, is not unlimited, and in a proper case may be overruled. The matter remains, however, one of discretion unless and until the proceeding is robbed of an element essential to its fairness.
Neither abuse nor unfairness is shown here. The choice accorded well established custom, and did not hurt the organization.
Lack of Transcript
The organization requested that a transcript be made of the evidence and proceedings at the hearings. The neutral member was agreeable provided the organization bore the expense. The carrier, in the belief that a transcript was unnecessary, never offered to share the cost, and no transcript was made. The neutral did, however, maintain extensive notes which he used as recollection aids in preparing the Board's award.
The evidence discloses that the National Railroad Adjustment Board, system boards of adjustment, and many special adjustment boards do not maintain transcripts of their proceedings. The judicial view is that, absent agreement, a written transcript of arbitration proceedings is unnecessary,
and this Court has said that no transcript need be made of those conducted pursuant to Award 282.
The organization requested the neutral member to schedule trips to job sites to observe some of the assignments that the carrier proposed to change. The neutral member denied these requests, even as to job locations within the Chicago area, preferring to reach the decision on the evidence presented at the hearings. It may well be that in particular cases arbitrators may and do gain a better understanding through first-hand knowledge obtained upon personal inspection of the activities under consideration. Yet the choice to view, or not to, is traditionally a discretionary matter, even where issues of fact must be decided by nonexpert juries,
and no basis is apparent upon which it may be held that the same discretion does not inhere in the arbitration function.
Executive Board Session
The organization contends also that no executive session of the Special Board was held, and that this contributed to the unfairness of the hearings. But at the meeting convened for adoption of awards the neutral member read those he had written, entertained a motion for their adoption, and inquired as to whether the other two members were ready to vote. It appears that had either sought discussion, an opportunity therefor would have been afforded. No discussion was requested, however, and the vote was taken.
In an executive session, as the organization says, its representative on the Special Board might have discussed the assignments and argued his views to the others. The neutral member had scheduled the four-day period from June 29 to July 2 for argument on the crew consist issues which, however, they agreed to waive. What the result might be if no opportunity for oral argument had been afforded is a question which need not be considered.
Here it was provided and neither party chose to utilize it.
Nor is it clear as to how it may be held that the Special Board could not employ to formalize its action the method which is commonplace in decision-making bodies and, from the evidence, is standard with special adjustment boards in railway labor disputes. It afforded each contestant a chance to discuss the proposed action, its evidentiary and legal bases, and to argue its own position.
Due process requires no more.
The organization also assaults the procedural fairness of the hearings with the charge that the neutral member was biased against it.
The evidence does disclose a few brief exchanges between the organization and neutral members which in total context were innocuous and indicate no predisposition as to the matters at issue. The events to which the organization points are overwhelmingly the rulings of the neutral member adverse to its position and the ultimate decision in the carrier's favor on all assignments in dispute. But even the 'total rejection of an opposed view cannot of itself impugn the integrity or competence of a trier of fact.'
No ruling specifically complained of appears to have been erroneous,
and an overall view of the evidence refutes the claim that the neutral member was partial.
Separately measured, the events upon which the organization predicates its constitutional contentions do not establish a deprivation of due process. Nor do they when considered collectively. The thrust of the organization's argument is that it is against the backdrop of its opportunities to prepare for the hearings that its other incidents are to be viewed. On this basis it says that it was then required to rely heavily on oral presentation, was handicapped by the hearing site, lack of a transcript and a view, and by what it considers to have been an absence of executive sessions of the Special Board. To what has already been said it need only be restated that the premise for the argument is erroneous.
A due process challenge undoubtedly requires that all relevant circumstances be viewed as a totality. Each circumstance upon which the organization relies here is reasonably explained by its own concomitants, and together they are but an accumulation of constitutionally neutral events. 'If the result of the adjudicatory process is not to be set at naught, it is not asking too much that the burden of showing essential unfairness be sustained by him who claims such injustice and seeks to have the result set aside, and that it be sustained not as a matter of speculation but as a demonstrable reality.'
An evaluation of the whole evidence dis-establishes the claim that constitutional limits were exceeded here.
In the complaint the organization alleges that the awards under attack failed to follow the guidelines established by Award 282. It is well settled, however, that a court will not review an arbitration award on its merits.
Though this is frequently so in consequence of an express statutory command, nothing is perceived in Award 282 which would warrant a departure from this salutary principle upon judicial review of an award made by a special board of adjustment created under it. Indeed, Award 282 confirms its operation by providing explicitly that '(a) decision of the majority of the board shall be binding upon both parties.'
It is to the special boards of adjustment, and not to the courts, that the arbitral decision is committed, and the Court cannot trespass upon their domain by reviewing on the merits the disposition they have made.
For the reasons discussed herein, judgment will be entered in favor of the defendants.