the award do not relinquish it. The employees who have received severance pay may retain the money. They are under no obligation to refund it, as they might have been were the award to be regarded as a nullity. If the award were a nullity, a serious question would arise whether an action in quasi-contract for money had and received under a mutual mistake, might not lie in behalf of the carriers against all former employees who received severance pay.
On the other hand, the carriers have a right to maintain the status that existed on the date of the termination of the award. The vacancies caused by the separation of firemen and members of train crews pursuant to the award, may remain unfilled. To require the railroads to go out and immediately find qualified employees to fill the places that have been abolished would be not only unreasonable, but would lead to an absurdity.
The Court is further of the opinion that the steps taken under the award have resulted in the creation of a new status. The fact that the arbitration was compulsory rather than voluntary does not affect the problem. The award of the compulsory arbitration for this purpose must be regarded as taking the place of an agreement within the meaning of the Railway Labor Act. The Act should receive a liberal construction. The parties have arrived at a new plateau as a result of the proceedings under the award.
The conclusion is inescapable that since a new status has been created under the Act, neither side may take any unilateral action or resort to self help. The carrier may not change rates of pay, rules, or working conditions, including size of train crews, employment of firemen, etc., and, on the other hand, the employees may not call a strike or use other coercive measures in order to enforce their demands. If either side desires to bring about any change in the arrangements resulting from the award, it must initiate proceedings by serving notices under Section 6 of the Railway Labor Act and exhaust each step in the procedure prescribed by that statute. The status existing prior to the award is not restored.
Manifestly the Arbitration Board construed the Act as authorizing it to provide for the creation of rights during the effective period of the award that would endure thereafter. It is an elementary principle of statutory construction that the interpretation of a statute by the administrative agency that administers it, is to be accorded great weight and should ordinarily be accepted unless obviously erroneous or unreasonable.
In view of the considerations, any threatened strike may be enjoined and reciprocally the carriers may be required by judicial decree to submit to the invocation of remedies provided by the Act.
A question was raised by counsel as to the status of the notices that some of the employees' organizations have served during the effective period of the award. The Court is of the opinion and concludes that such notices may not be deemed effective as of the date prior to the termination of the award. It would be a futile gesture, however, to require the parties to serve new notices. A reasonable interpretation of the situation is that the notices that have been served may remain, but that they become effective only on the day after the termination of the award. The various proceedings under the Railway Labor Act need not be initiated until after that time.
The second question to be determined as a result of this hearing, is whether the Norris-LaGuardia Act, 29 U.S.C. § 107 bars the granting of an injunction against a strike, and whether any provision of that Act is applicable to an application for such an injunction. At the outset it may be stated that an injunction against a strike may be properly granted to maintain the status quo, while the parties pursue the various steps of negotiation, mediation, or arbitration provided by the Railway Labor Act. Such an injunction is one of the means which the courts may invoke to enforce the provisions of the Railway Labor Act. Equity decrees of other types may likewise be employed for similar purposes.
Thus it was said by Circuit Judge Friendly for the Second Circuit, in Manning v. American Airlines, Inc., 329 F.2d 32, 34:
The propriety of an injunction to enforce the then unique provisions of the Railway Labor Act for maintaining the status quo while the parties to a labor dispute pursue various stages of negotiation, mediation or arbitration, was established long ago.
In Virginian Railway Co. v. System Federation No. 40, 300 U.S. 515, 562-563, 81 L. Ed. 789, 57 S. Ct. 592, which has already been discussed in some detail, it was held in an opinion by Mr. Justice Stone that the Railway Labor Act supersedes the Norris-LaGuardia Act in the sense that the provisions of the Railway Labor Act "cannot be rendered nugatory by the earlier and more general provisions of the Norris-LaGuardia Act".
In Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen et al. v. Chicago R. & I.R. Co., 353 U.S. 30, 1 L. Ed. 2d 622, 77 S. Ct. 635, in which Mr. Chief Justice Warren delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court, it was expressly held that the use of injunctive relief to vindicate the processes of the Railway Labor Act, is authorized, and that the specific provisions of the Railway Labor Act take precedence over the more general provisions of the Norris-LaGuardia Act (pp. 41-42, 77 S. Ct. 635.). A similar conclusion was reached in Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers et al. v. Louisville & N.R. Co., 373 U.S. 33, 39, 10 L. Ed. 2d 172, 83 S. Ct. 1059.
The defendants rely on two cases, which however are clearly distinguishable. In Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. Toledo, P. & W.R. Co., 321 U.S. 50, 88 L. Ed. 534, 64 S. Ct. 413, it was held that a railroad was not entitled to an injunction against a strike if it declined to subject itself to one of the remedies accorded by the Railway Labor Act, in that case the machinery for voluntary arbitration. In Order of Railroad Telegraphers v. Chicago & N.W.R. Co., 362 U.S. 330, 4 L. Ed. 2d 774, 80 S. Ct. 761, it was held that there was no basis for enjoining a strike at the behest of a railroad that had declined to negotiate, because of an erroneous view as to whether it was under a duty to negotiate concerning the subject matter involved in the dispute.
This Court finds no basis for holding that some of the provisions of the Norris-LaGuardia Act may be applicable while others may not be. This Court reaches the conclusion that no provision of the Norris-LaGuardia Act applies to an action or an application for an injunction against a strike of railroad employees if the defendants have failed to fulfill their obligations under the Railway Labor Act.
The conclusions reached by this Court in this opinion will be embodied in the final judgment to be entered after the trial of this action.