This proceeding comes before the Court on the plaintiff's application for temporary and preliminary injunctive relief, as well as cross motions for summary judgment.
The request for injunctive relief arises from the recent decision of the defendants to terminate the plaintiff's occupancy of certain office facilities located in Chicago, Illinois. The plaintiff has used the offices in carrying out their assigned duties as arbitrators under the Railway Labor Act ("RLA" or "Act"). 45 U.S.C. § 151, et seq.
This litigation arises from the decision of the Reagan Administration to eliminate federal funding for office space occupied by a railroad industry arbitration board. The arbitration unit, known as the National Railroad Adjustment Board ("Board"), was established pursuant to the 1934 amendments to the Railway Labor Act for the purpose of resolving grievances between rail carriers and their employees in the railroad industry.
The Act provides for a Board consisting of 17 members selected by the employer railroads and 17 members selected by various labor organizations. The Board members are partisan representatives of labor and management, respectively. Since these representatives are not federal government employees they are compensated by the parties whom they represent. In the event that a panel of the Board is unable to resolve a dispute, a neutral referee is selected to break the deadlock. Since its inception, the Board has enjoyed government support for the costs of certain office space, furnishings and equipment, and salaries of federal employees who serve as support staff.
Plaintiff Railway Labor Executives' Association ("RLEA") is an unincorporated association of representatives of labor unions. The 17 union members serving on the Board are appointed by the RLEA. The plaintiff commenced this lawsuit in 1982 when the administration's proposed fiscal year ("FY") 1983 budget sought to eliminate federal financial support for private office space for Board members. In response to these efforts to curtail funding, Congress approved FY 1983 appropriations which were sufficient to fund private office space. Pub. L. 97-377, 96 Stat. 1830, 1903 (1982).
The following year, the administration once again sought to terminate funding for the Board's private office space. This time, Congress took no action to preserve the office space. Instead, the General Services Administration ("GSA") notified the Board members that they must vacate their present office space by March 20, 1984. The federal government will continue to provide space for conference and hearing rooms, as well as facilities for the federal employees who serve as the support staff for the NRAB.
The defendants in this proceeding are the National Mediation Board (NMB) and the GSA. The NMB, like the Board, was established pursuant to the Railway Labor Act. 45 U.S.C. § 154. It exercises financial control over the Board's funds. 45 U.S.C. § 154, Third, the GSA is responsible for the operation and maintenance of office buildings used by government agencies. 40 U.S.C. § 490(h).
While the rail carriers along with the labor unions are members of and have equal representation on the Board, they did not join the plaintiff in this lawsuit. However, on March 5, 1984 the National Railway Labor Conference, an organization of carriers, filed an amicus brief supporting the position of the plaintiff.
The narrow issue before the Court is whether the Railway Labor Act mandates the provision of private office space for Board members at government expense.
The record indicates that all 17 union members have private offices, while seven carrier members have offices. Affidavit of Rowland K. Quinn (Exec. Sec. of NMB) at para. 2, attached as Ex. 1 to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, filed March 21, 1983. The absence of office space for carrier members is explained by the fact that the railroads have not filled their statutory allotment of 17 Board members. In February 1983, only five carrier representatives served on the Board. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations for 1984: Hearings before Subcomm. of the House Comm. on Appropriations ("1983 House Hearings"), 98th Cong., 1st Sess. 790, 808 (1983).
After considering the plaintiff's application for injunctive relief, the cross motions for summary judgment, the supporting memoranda, the oral argument of counsel, and the complete record, the Court concludes that the Act does not require the federal government to fund these private offices. Accordingly, the plaintiff's application for equitable relief is denied, the defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted, and the plaintiff's complaint is dismissed with prejudice.
The plaintiff contends that free private office space for Board members is mandated by the RLA, 45 U.S.C. § 153, First (t), and that the defendants do not have the discretion to terminate funding for this space. Section 153, First (t) provides that:
whenever practicable, the several divisions or subdivisions of the Adjustment Board shall be supplied with suitable quarters in any Federal building located at its place of meeting (emphasis added).