The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN H. PRATT
Before this Court are Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment and Defendant's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. We have fully considered the parties' motions, oppositions and replies, and we heard the parties on January 29, 1992. Accordingly, we grant plaintiffs' motion and deny defendant's motion.
The plaintiffs are petitioning the Court to set aside orders of the National Railway Adjustment Board ("NRAB"). Plaintiffs are Canadian employees of CSX Transportation ("CSX") who perform their work within the boundaries of Canada.
The case has a complicated factual background. In February 1988, two of plaintiffs' fellow employees filed a class action against CSX in D.C. Superior Court alleging breach of contract. See Rastall v. CSX Corporation, 696 F. Supp. 683 (D.D.C. 1988). In Rastall, the Canadian employees as here argued that they should be paid in U.S. dollars, or equivalently to U.S. dollars, since they are covered by the same collective bargaining agreement as United States employees. CSX by way of response contended that the dispute should be arbitrated by the NRAB. CSX removed the Rastall case from the Superior Court to the District Court asserting federal question jurisdiction on the ground that either the Railway Labor Act ("RLA") or the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA") applied and required the parties to submit such disputes to arbitration. Judge Gesell found that neither the RLA nor the LMRA had extraterritorial effect to govern employees who are citizens of another country and work in that other country. Id. at 684-85. As there was then no basis for federal question jurisdiction, Judge Gesell remanded the case to Superior Court. Id. at 685.
The Superior Court at this point concluded that the dispute resolution provisions contained in the collective bargaining agreements required the parties to submit to binding arbitration, and granted CSX's motion for summary judgment. On appeal, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings. Rastall v. CSX Transportation, Inc., 574 A.2d 271 (D.C. 1990), cert. denied, 111 S. Ct. 1018 (1991). The Court of Appeals held that the employees' contracts allowed them to either arbitrate or seek a remedy at law for labor disputes. 574 A.2d at 274. Plaintiffs allege that they intend to pursue their action in a jury trial in District of Columbia Superior Court.
In a separate set of proceedings, while the appeal of the Superior Court's decision in Rastall was pending, a number of CSX's Canadian employees submitted the currency dispute to the NRAB. In each case, the submission contested the jurisdiction of the NRAB and stated that they were filing with the NRAB only because the Superior Court had held that the dispute could not be tried in court. See Plaintiff's Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment at 10. When the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia decided that arbitration was not required, the employees then moved to withdraw all the arbitrations, and were permitted to do so except for the one arbitration that had already been argued.
In this case, plaintiffs seek specifically to have the three awards by the NRAB vacated. The three arbitration awards challenged include the arbitrations brought by UTU,
and the group of individual employees.
In all three awards, referee David Twomey decided that the Canadian employees should be paid in Canadian dollars. He based his decision on the fact that they had been paid in Canadian dollars for over 30 years. See Reply of CSX Transportation, Inc. to Plaintiffs' Memorandum in Opposition to CSX Transportation, Inc.'s Cross Motion for Summary Judgment, Ex. C.
A. Jurisdiction of this Court
The Court has only limited jurisdiction to review decisions of arbitral panels under the RLA. However, although the range is "among the narrowest known to law," Union Pacific Railroad Co. v. Sheehan, 439 U.S. 89, 91, 58 L. Ed. 2d 354 , 99 S. Ct. 399 (1978), judicial review is permitted if there is: 1) failure of the Board to comply with the RLA; 2) fraud or corruption; or 3) failure of the Board to confine itself to matters within its jurisdiction. Del Casal v. Eastern Airlines, Inc., 634 F.2d 295, 298-99 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 892 (1981).
Plaintiffs argue that the RLA specifically permits the District Court to review and vacate a decision of the NRAB where the Board has exceeded its jurisdiction. Indeed, the language of the statute appears to so provide,
and other courts have repeatedly interpreted the provision as such. See, e.g., Union Pacific Railroad Co. v. Sheehan, 439 U.S. 89, 91, 58 L. Ed. 2d 354 , 99 S. Ct. 399 (1978); Ozark Air Line , Inc. v. Air Line Pilots Association, Int'l, 744 F.2d 1347, 1350 (8th Cir. 1984), vacated, adhered to en banc, 761 F.2d 1259 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 903 (1985); Del Casal, 634 F.2d at 298.
Defendant points to two recent cases in this District in which the court held that it was without jurisdiction to review as the burden was on the protesting party to show that a provision of the RLA mandated that the National Mediation Board ("NMB") refrain from some action. See Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Defendant CSX Transportation, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment at 31 (discussing International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. National Mediation Board, 136 L.R.R.M. 2193 (D.D.C. 1990); Railway Labor Executives Ass'n v. National Mediation Board, No. 89-3306 (D.D.C. June 10, 1991) (Green, J.H.). However, these two cases are inapposite for several reasons. First, the cases dealt with the NMB, not the NRAB. Second, both courts acknowledged that they had at least some jurisdiction to consider the legality of the NMB's actions. See 136 L.R.R.M. at 2194 ; Railway Labor Executives Ass'n, slip op. at 5. Third, and most important, in both of those cases, the courts held that the NMB had the substantive jurisdiction under the RLA to take the actions it took; consequently, in finding that the NMB had exclusive jurisdiction, the district court could not also have jurisdiction over the dispute. The question here is whether this ...