The opinion of the court was delivered by: HOLTZOFF
This is the trial of two consolidated actions, one brought by a group of railroads against the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, and the other instituted by the Brotherhood against a number of railroads. The second action had been filed originally in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and on defendants' motion was transferred here by Chief Judge Campbell of the Illinois Federal Court. The two were then consolidated on motion of the plaintiffs in Action No. 777-66. In each action a declaratory judgment and a permanent injunction are sought and a counterclaim is interposed for reciprocal relief.
The basic issues to be determined are the effect and the consequences of the termination of the effective period of an Award of a compulsory arbitration proceeding concerning two principal issues of a nationwide controversy between Class I railroads and organizations of railway employees. The differences in dispute were the need for continued use of firemen on Diesel engines in freight and yard service, and the possibility of reduction in the size of train crews on numerous runs throughout the country. The compulsory arbitration was directed by a Joint Resolution of Congress, approved August 28, 1963, 77 Stat. 132, in order to prevent a threatened nationwide railroad strike.
It was claimed by the carriers that firemen were not needed on Diesel engines in freight and yard service, as there were no longer any fires to stoke and that whatever other help was rendered by the fireman was in fact accorded by the head brakeman, whose post was also in the cab of the engine.
The Arbitration Board, known as Board 282, reached the conclusion that firemen were no longer needed on Diesel engines in freight and yard service, except as to ten percent of the number, who it was held should be retained for unusual and extraordinary situations. In order to prevent hardship and distress to thousands of employees, however, the Award of the Board did not direct that ninety percent of the firemen in question could be discharged forthwith, but provided that the result should be accomplished only by attrition over the years, which would ease any possible financial distress to the individuals concerned and to their families. Accordingly, it was prescribed by the Award that all firemen who had at least ten years of service, should retain their status until death, retirement, resignation, or discharge for cause. The same right was extended to firemen having between two and ten years of service, with the qualification, however, that the carriers were to have the privilege of offering comparable positions to firemen in this class, for which they were qualified or could be made qualified, with a guarantee of employment in the new positions for at least five years. Any moving expenses incurred by the employees under these circumstances were to be borne by the employer. If such an offer were declined by the employee, he could be discharged upon the payment of severance pay, the size of which was dependent upon the length of his service. The employment of firemen of less than two years' service could be terminated upon the payment of severance allowances, again measured by the length of service.
In respect to the proposed reduction of sizes of crews on numerous trains, the Award formulated certain specific considerations called "guidelines", to govern the decision as to whether the size of any specific crew should be reduced. The issues as to particular crews were remanded to the local properties for negotiations. If negotiations did not result in an agreement, special boards of adjustment were to be created in the respective localities in order to resolve the disputes.
The consolidated actions now before the Court were tried on the basis of a stipulation of facts, which the Court adopts as its findings of fact. This opinion will constitute the conclusions of law. The issues in these actions involve the provisions of the Award which relate to firemen. Similar questions affecting trainmen were determined in Akron & Barberton Belt Railroad Co. et al. v. Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen et al., D.C., 250 F. Supp. 691.
The Joint Resolution of August 28, 1963 provided that the Award of the Arbitration Board was not to become effective until sixty days after it was filed. The statute further directed that the Award was to continue in force for such period as the Board should determine, but not to exceed two years from its effective date. The Board ordered in the Award that it should continue for two years from its effective date, unless the parties agreed otherwise. The expiration date of the Award was originally January 25, 1966. It was extended by agreement to March 31, 1966 as to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen.
While the Award was in effect the railroads gradually reduced the number of firemen in their employ by about 18,000, and paid separation allowances approximating about $36,000,000 to firemen whose employment was severed. About 1200 employees accepted offers of other positions under the provisions of the Award.
As heretofore indicated the questions to be determined at this time are the rights and liabilities of the parties in respect to firemen as to rates of pay, rules and working conditions after the expiration of the effective period of the Award. It is claimed by the union, as was also contended by the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen in the Akron & Barberton case, supra, that upon the termination of the effective period of the Award, the status quo that existed prior to the Award was automatically restored. The Court rejected this contention in the Akron & Barberton case, and here repeats that rejection.
The Award and the operations under it created a new status in regard to rules and working conditions. This status may not be changed, as was explained in detail in the opinion of this Court in the Akron case, except by agreement or by serving notices under Section 6 of the Railway Labor Act (45 U.S.C. § 151 et seq.) and exhausting, step by step, each of the remedies accorded by that statute.
Neither side may make changes unilaterally until the remedies under the Railway Labor Act are exhausted. No recourse may be had to self-help until that stage is reached, which means that so far as the firemen are concerned, they may not resort to a strike, and any such strike would be illegal.
Every statute must receive a reasonable and sensible construction. Any interpretation that obviously fails to effectuate the purpose and intent of the legislative body should be rejected. This doctrine applies not only to the Joint Resolution of Congress, but also to the Award of arbitration board. The Award manifestly contemplated the eventual permanent abolition of the jobs of firemen on Diesel engines in freight and yard service, except as to ten percent of that number, but proposed that the desired result should be reached gradually by a process of attrition. It was not intended, therefore, that the steps taken during the effective period of the Award should become a nullity at the end of the two-year period. The purpose of the Congress and the effect of the Award would be entirely frustrated if the railroads were required to rehire firemen whose positions have been abolished during that interval. So, too, the vested rights of those firemen who were accorded permanent protection by the Award, are not to be wiped out.
It is argued by counsel for the Brotherhood that since the Award is at an end, whenever any firemen dies, retires, or resigns thereafter his position should be filled by a new appointment. Such a course too would completely defeat the purpose and the meaning of the Award, for the objective of the Award was to abrogate the use of unnecessary firemen, but to accomplish this result by degrees and as far as possible in a painless manner.
On the other hand, neither side may take any further affirmative steps under the Award after its termination date. Thus, the railroads may not discharge any more firemen pursuant to the provisions of the Award. What has been accomplished under the Award remains and is not to be nullified or wiped out. The firemen with seniority of more than ten years retain a permanent status for their working life, which was granted to them by the Award. The firemen who accepted comparable jobs with a guarantee of five years' employment, retain that guaranty. On the other hand, the carriers are under no obligation to fill vacancies that had been caused by the separation of firemen from their positions, or to fill future vacancies. Those positions are permanently abolished. As heretofore stated, a new status has been created and no change may be made in that status except by agreement or by the service of notices under Section 6 of the Railway Labor Act, and recourse to the provisions of that statute.
A number of States have what are known as "full crew" laws, that require railroads operating within their borders to maintain crews of a certain specified minimum number. The Supreme Court has recently held in Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers v. Chicago, R.I. & P.R. Co., 382 U.S. 423, 86 S. Ct. 594, 15 L. Ed. 2d 501, that Award 282 did not supersede these "full crew" laws. The result is that in some States, the railroads have not been able to achieve reductions in the number of firemen that they would have been permitted to make under the Award, if the "full crew" laws had not interfered. One of those States is Oregon, which has recently repealed its full crew law effective January 1, 1967. It is argued by counsel for the carriers that after January 1, 1967, the railroads should be permitted to take advantage of the provisions of the Award to the extent of offering comparable jobs to firemen who had between two and ten years' standing, and discharging firemen of less than two years' standing. This Court disagrees. Since the effective period of the Award has expired, no affirmative steps may be taken under it. The mere fact that State statutes, as construed by the Supreme Court, have prevented the railroads in some instances from taking full advantage of the provisions of the Award, does not have the effect of prolonging or restoring their rights when the bar of the State statute is eliminated. The ...