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AMERICAN BUSLINES, INC. v. UNITED STATES

April 20, 1966

American Buslines, Inc., Plaintiff,
v.
United States of America et al., Defendants. Amalgamated Transit Union, AFL-CIO, Plaintiff v. Same. American Buslines, Inc. et al., Intervening Defendants. International Brotherhood Of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen And Helpers Of America et al., Plaintiffs v. Same. Overnite Transportation Company et al., Intervening Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CURRAN

Two of these consolidated civil actions involve attacks by two labor unions upon orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission in Midwest Buslines, Inc. - Purchase (Portion) - American Buslines, Inc., 97 M.C.C. 426, and in Overnite Transportation Co. - Purchase - Rutherford Freight Lines, Inc., 97 M.C.C. 568, on the grounds that the Commission gave too little financial protection to adversely affected employees in certain financial transactions between motor carriers. The third action, filed by American Buslines, Inc., seeks to set aside the order entered in the Midwest case for the alleged reason that the Commission gave too much protection to the affected employees. These three actions are filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1336, 1398, 2284, and 2321-2325.

This is the second time that the Midwest case is before the Court, as neither the union nor the buslines company was satisfied with the order of the Commission on the remand. The Overnite case was filed by the Teamsters Union and is an attempt to reargue the legal issues presented in the first appeal of the Amalgamated case. In that case, the Commission approved the purchase of two of the American Buslines routes by Midwest Buslines and reserved jurisdiction for three years to entertain any employee petitions regarding needed financial protection from a possible adverse effect of the transaction. The purchase was completed December 31, 1959. On September 20, 1960, the Commission granted Amalgamated's petition to reopen the proceeding, allowing it to show "specifically how, and to what extent, particular employees of the carriers concerned have been adversely affected ". The Commission declined to impose any conditions on behalf of the employees in the reopened proceeding.

 This Court set aside the order of the Commission, stating it "need not attempt to delineate what measure of relief, if any, should be provided to the employees of American Buslines, Inc.," and "that if any particular measure of relief is one which would ordinarily be granted to railroad workers similarly situated, the Commission should not deny it to the employees of American Buslines, Inc., without a reasoned explanation of its denial, consistent with what has here been said ". On the remand of the Amalgamated case, the Commission reopened its proceedings but stated that it was "for consideration on the record as made ".

 In August, 1964, the Commission issued its report on reconsideration. It conditioned its order upon payment by American of a "lump sum settlement" to certain of the employees to cover "loss of pay while moving, temporary maintenance of two households, and the excess of rents and utilities costs paid for a period of one year after the date of such reassignment ". The Commission also provided compulsory arbitration if there was any disagreement over this protection that might arise between the bus company and the union. In February, 1965, the Commission denied a petition for a reconsideration. Both Amalgamated, in Civil Action No. 684-65, and American Buslines, in Civil Action No. 644-65, attack this order.

 In the Overnite proceedings, the Commission approved the purchase by Overnite of Rutherford Freight Lines, "in view of vendor's declining traffic and revenues and the resulting trend toward substantial deficits which, if continued, will result only in its demise as a carrier ". The Commission rejected the argument of the Teamsters Union that the transaction be denied on the grounds that Overnite was a non-union motor carrier and approved the transaction, subject to the customary protection in motor carrier cases of three months' severance pay payable to the adversely affected employees, which it found to be just, reasonable and adequate protection.

 The following statutes are involved:

 
Section 5(2)(c) of the Interstate Commerce Act, 49 U.S.C. § 5(2)(c) - In passing upon any proposed transaction under the provisions of this paragraph (2), the Commission shall give weight to the following considerations, among others: (1) the effect of the proposed transaction upon adequate transportation service to the public; (2) the effect upon the public interest of the inclusion, or failure to include, other railroads in the territory involved in the proposed transaction; (3) the total fixed charges resulting from the proposed transaction; and (4) the interest of the carrier employees affected.
 
Section 5(2)(f) of the Act, 49 U.S.C. § 5(2)(f) - As a condition of its approval, under this paragraph (2), of any transaction involving a carrier or carriers by railroad subject to the provisions of this part, the Commission shall require a fair and equitable arrangement to protect the interests of the railroad employees affected. In its order of approval the Commission shall include terms and conditions providing that during the period of four years from the effective date of such order such transaction will not result in employees of the carrier or carriers by railroad affected by such order being in a worse position with respect to their employment, except that the protection afforded to any employee pursuant to this sentence shall not be required to continue for a longer period, following the effective date of such order, than the period during which such employee was in the employ of such carrier or carriers prior to the effective date of such order. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Act, an agreement pertaining to the protection of the interests of said employees may hereafter be entered into by any carrier or carriers by railroad and the duly authorized representative or representatives of its or their employees.

 The defendants, the United States of America and the Interstate Commerce Commission, suggest that the questions raised by these three consolidated cases are as follows:

 1. Does the Commission policy to protect motor carrier and railroad employees differently have a rational basis and warrant in the statute?

 2. Is the protection granted the motor carrier employees in the two purchase transactions before the Court fair and equitable both to the employees and the involved motor carriers?

 3. Does the Commission have statutory authority to require compulsory arbitration of disputes over the protection it affords employees as a condition to its approving ...


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