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AMTRAK v. AMERICAN FEDN. OF R.R. POLICE

June 11, 1985

NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF RAILROAD POLICE, INC., et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HARRIS

 This case now is before this Court on plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings or summary judgment on its complaint and to dismiss defendant's counterclaim, defendant's opposition thereto and cross-motion for summary judgment, as well as on defendant's motion for a preliminary injunction and plaintiff's opposition thereto.

 The plaintiff, National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak), an intercity railroad passenger service, was organized pursuant to the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970, 45 U.S.C. § 501 et seq. Accordingly, labor disputes must be handled in accordance with the Railway Labor Act. 45 U.S.C. § 546(b). The defendant, American Federation of Railroad Police, Incorporated (AFRP), is the recognized collective bargaining representative of Amtrak's police employees.

 On August 1, 1979, Amtrak and AFRP's predecessor union executed a collective bargaining agreement establishing rates of pay, rules and working conditions for the police employees. That agreement was modified on December 16, 1982.

 The first objection to NJT operations came from AFRP in May 1984, when a grievance was filed with the Director of Labor Relations for Amtrak, alleging that the presence of NJT police officers on the NJT commuter trains operating on Amtrak's trackage amounted to a breach of the Amtrak/AFRP collective bargaining agreement. Numerous other grievances were filed by AFRP which raised the same alleged violation of Rule 4(A) of the collective bargaining agreement (scope clause). Rule 4(A), the clause of the collective bargaining agreement specifying the scope of the work which is to be performed by AFRP, states:

 
A. These rules shall govern the hours of service and working conditions of all employees below the rank of Captain engaged in the work of the craft and class of Police Officers and, except as specifically provided herein, all such work of said craft or class shall be performed exclusively by employees subject to the scope of this Agreement, regardless of time devoted to its performance.

 Those grievances ultimately were deemed to be without merit by the Corporate Director of Labor Relations for Amtrak.

 AFRP's ultimate objection was raised as a result of two arrests made by NJT police officers while riding on NJT's commuter trains on February 23 and 24, 1985. The suspects were taken off the trains at Newark and Elizabeth, New Jersey, respectively. AFRP, in accord with its earlier position, argued that the arrests, subsequent booking, and all other work incident to the arrests of those suspects was within the scope of Amtrak police work. Basically, AFRP's position was that under the scope clause of the collective bargaining agreement, Amtrak police were entitled to ride NJT's trains and perform police duties on them. Amtrak, adhering to its earlier conclusion, found AFRP's allegations to be without merit. AFRP responded to this finding through the initiation of a "blue flu." By the evening of February 27, 1985, numerous Amtrak police officers had called in sick, left work sick, and commenced picketing at various Amtrak facilities.

 On February 27, 1985, anticipating picketing, Amtrak filed a verified complaint along with an application for a temporary restraining order and a motion for a preliminary injunction. At about 10:00 p.m. on February 27, this Court granted the plaintiff's motion for a temporary restraining order on an ex parte basis. A hearing on the temporary restraining order was held on February 28, 1985, at which argument from counsel for all parties was heard. This resulted in the issuance of a temporary restraining order which prevented AFRP from inducing or engaging in any picketing, self help or disruptive behavior in any manner interfering with Amtrak's business operations. On March 1, 1985, that Order was extended upon the consent of AFRP's counsel. The plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction was granted, without opposition, on March 26, 1985.

 As noted, this case is governed by the Railway Labor Act. In applying that Act, the Court first must determine whether the underlying controversy in this case constitutes a "major" or a "minor" dispute. See Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway Co. v. Burley, 325 U.S. 711, 722-28, 89 L. Ed. 1886, 65 S. Ct. 1282 (1945). This determination dictates the proper administrative procedures that the parties must adhere to for resolution of the dispute as well as this Court's authority to intervene in the controversy. Local 553, Transport Workers v. Eastern Air Lines, Inc., 695 F.2d 668, 674 (2d Cir. 1983).

 Basically, major disputes are those arising from the initial formation of a new agreement or from the negotiation process in attempting to alter the terms of an existing agreement. Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway Co. v. Burley, 325 U.S. 711, 89 L. Ed. 1886, 65 S. Ct. 1282 (1945); Southern Railway Co. v. Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen & Enginemen, 127 U.S. App. D.C. 371, 384 F.2d 323 (D.C. Cir. 1967). Minor disputes, on the other hand, relate to the interpretation or application of an existing agreement.

 AFRP's argument seems to be that Amtrak's sale of its Newark station to NJT, along with NJT's recently acquired trackage rights over a portion of Amtrak's Northeast Corrider, is a unilateral attempt by Amtrak to amend the terms of the existing collective bargaining agreement. Thus, AFRP argues that this dispute is major in nature. Amtrak counters by arguing that Rule 4(A) of the agreement does not give AFRP the right to perform work for third parties who happen to be on Amtrak's property. Accordingly, ...


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