The opinion of the court was delivered by: HOLTZOFF
This proceeding is an outgrowth of the arbitration directed by the Congress in respect to issues that brought this country to the brink of a nationwide railroad strike in August, 1963. The Court has before it a petition on the part of a group of railway employees, to impeach what may be called a supplemental award of the special Arbitration Board created by the Congress. This award consists of answers to questions submitted to the Board in respect to the interpretation, application and administration of the principal award of the Board previously rendered.
Originally the two principal issues in dispute between the Brotherhoods, consisting of railroad employees, and the railroads, were first, the status of firemen on freight trains following the shift from steam-powered locomotives to diesel engines; and, second, the size and composition of train crews, or the "crew consist", in the jargon of the industry, resulting from technological advances. A special Act of Congress (Act of August 28, 1963, Public Law 88-108, 77 Stat. 129) prescribed a compulsory arbitration of these two problems and created a special arbitration board for that purpose. This board was directed to conduct its proceedings in accordance with the provisions of the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. § 158, which regulate arbitrations of labor controversies in the railroad industry. Its award was made subject to the limited judicial review accorded by the Railway Labor Act.
This special board, after conducting exhaustive hearings and thoroughly considering the evidence, rendered a comprehensive decision disposing of the two issues submitted to it. In an action to impeach the award, brought pursuant to 45 U.S.C. § 159 by some of the Brotherhoods representing railway employees, the decision was sustained by this Court, Brotherhood of Loc. Fire. & Eng. v. Chicago, B. & Q.R. Co., 225 F. Supp. 11.
The judgment of this Court was affirmed by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 118 U.S. App. D.C. 100, 331 F.2d 1020, and certiorari was denied by the Supreme Court, 377 U.S. 918, 84 S. Ct. 1181, 12 L. Ed. 2d 187.
The basic award of Board No. 282 made on November 26, 1963, may be divided into two parts. One dealt with the status of firemen on diesel engines on freight trains. This subject is not before the Court at this time. The other aspect of the award was devoted to the size and composition of train crews, i.e., "crew consists" in the parlance of the industry. This problem had numberless ramifications, since situations vary from train to train and might run into thousands. Manifestly, it would not have been practicable for the Board, especially in the short time at its disposal, to determine the size and composition of the train crew on every train throughout the country. Moreover, the nature of the problem was such as to require flexibility for alterations that may be necessitated by changes in conditions on any specific run from time to time. The Board solved the problem by formulating a series of concrete principles to govern the determination of "crew consist" in individual instances. It provided that proposals for changes in existing written or oral rules should be initiated by notices and handled by negotiations. If no agreement was reached, the matter was to be referred to a special board of adjustment to be selected and convened as prescribed in detail in the award. As heretofore stated, in the action brought to impeach it, the award was sustained by this Court in every respect and the judgment of this Court was affirmed by the Court of Appeals.
Pursuant to the award, such special boards of adjustment were later created for the purpose of solving individual controversies involving the size and composition of crews on individual trains on various railroads. From time to time Board No. 282 was reconvened and rendered supplemental rulings governing activities of these special boards.
The matter now before the Court is an attempt by certain of the Brotherhoods to impeach or set aside several answers of the Board to questions submitted to it by the parties. The present proceeding is brought under 45 U.S.C. § 159, which accords a limited judicial review of an award of an Arbitration Board created under the Railway Labor Act. It has been instituted by a petition filed both in the action that had been originally brought to impeach the basic award, and in a new separate action filed to attack the supplemental award consisting of the answers to which we have just referred. The two petitions, which are practically identical, have been consolidated for a hearing.
The scope of judicial review of an arbitration award under the Railway Labor Act is narrowly limited and restricted. It extends solely to the following matters: failure of the award to conform to the substantive requirements prescribed by the Act; failure of the proceedings to conform to the provisions of the Act; failure of the award to conform or confine itself to the stipulations of the agreement to arbitrate; and, fraud or corruption of a member of the Board or of a party to the arbitration, 45 U.S.C. § 159, paragraph Third. Unlike reviews of decisions of administrative agencies generally, the Court is not vested with any authority to examine the evidence, or to determine whether the findings of the Arbitration Board are sustained by substantial evidence. The Arbitration Board is thus clothed with plenary and final power to determine the controversy provided it adheres to the requirements of law to which reference has just been made. It may perhaps be assumed, without deciding, that the Court might possibly be empowered to set aside a ruling or interpretation of the Board that is so unreasonable on its face as to be adjudged arbitrary or capricious. This question, however, does not arise in this proceeding.
The supplemental award now questioned was rendered by Arbitration Board No. 282, on October 10, 1965, and consists of answers to specific questions submitted by parties to the arbitration in regard to the construction and application of the award. The answers in controversy are in response to Questions No. 32, 33 and 36, which relate to the activities of special boards of adjustment created pursuant to the direction of Board No. 282, for the purpose of determining individual disputes as to the composition and size of train crews in specific instances.
A preliminary statement contained in the present award of the Board pointedly summarizes and comments on the issues in controversy, as follows (pp. 10, 11, 12 and 13):
"The organizations affected by the Award argue that these special boards of adjustment are bound by the rules applicable to the statutory arbitration boards provided for in Section 7 of the Railway Labor Act. We reject that contention as completely erroneous. Section 7 First of the Act provides for a board of either three or six persons; our Award stipulates a board of three. Section 7 Third (f) requires that the arbitration board shall furnish a certified copy of its award to the respective parties to the controversy, and shall transmit the original, together with the papers and proceedings and a transcript of the evidence taken at the hearings, certified by at least a majority of the board, to the clerk of the federal district court for the district in which the controversy arose, and that certified copies shall also be filed with the National Mediation Board and the Interstate Commerce Commission. Our Award imposes no such requirements. Thus, the logic of the organizations' argument forces them to concede that an award rendered by a special board of adjustment pursuant to the procedures and guidelines laid down in Award 282, which has been accepted by the parties and put into effect, can nevertheless be voided by either party at some future date because certified copies of the record were not filed with the court, the Mediation Board, and the Commission. We think such a conclusion is plainly contrary to the letter and the spirit of Award 282. (pp. 10-11)
"It is true that Section 4 of Public Law 88-108, which established Board 282, states that 'To the extent not inconsistent with this joint resolution the arbitration shall be conducted pursuant to sections 7 and 8 of the Railway Labor Act, the board's award shall be made and filed as provided in said sections and shall be subject to section 9 of the said Act.' We think it clear that the quoted language ...