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SOUTHERN PAC. TRANSP. CO. v. UNITED TRANSP. UNION

March 31, 1992

IN THE MATTER OF ARBITRATION INVOLVING: SOUTHERN PACIFIC TRANSPORTATION COMPANY, et al., Petitioners
v.
UNITED TRANSPORTATION UNION, Respondent. IN THE MATTER OF ARBITRATION INVOLVING: SOUTHERN PACIFIC TRANSPORTATION COMPANY, et al.


GREENE


The opinion of the court was delivered by: HAROLD H. GREENE

This is a dispute between a labor union and a number of railroads *fn1" over the carriers' plan to reduce certain crews on their trains. An Arbitration Panel awarded to the railroads the right to reduce train crews to a single engineer and one brakeman, and it also gave the railroads the right involuntarily to buy out the remaining, surplus workers. The railroads seek to have the award confirmed and enforced pursuant to section 9 of the Railway Labor Act. 45 U.S.C. § 159. The United Transportation Union, in turn, seeks to impeach the award on the basis that the Arbitration Panel allegedly exceeded its jurisdiction and went beyond the scope of the arbitration agreement by failing to follow the solution set out in another arbitration, one involving the Chicago and North Western Railroad. The Court will confirm and enforce the arbitration award at issue and deny the unions' request for an injunction.

I

 Background

 From 1988 through 1990 the railroads and the unions attempted to negotiate modifications in pay and working conditions, but no agreement was reached. Eventually, the parties engaged in mediation under the provisions of the Railway Labor Act (hereinafter RLA), but that effort, too, failed.

 On May 3, 1990, the President established Presidential Emergency Board 219 (PEB 219) to investigate the dispute and make recommendations. The Emergency Board conducted hearings in which all the parties participated. In January 1991, PEB 219 recommended specific terms for settlement, and it also fashioned a framework and procedure for arbitration and negotiation of other issues. On April 17, 1991, eight unions, including the United Transportation Union (hereinafter UTU), struck on a nationwide basis. That day Congress passed Public Law 102-29 as a means for ending the rail strike. The following day the President signed the bill into law.

 Public Law 102-29 was squarely based upon the recommendations of Emergency Board 219. The legislation transformed the recommendations of that Board into law *fn2" and imposed a settlement on the parties. It also established procedures, including establishment of a Special Board, by which the application of 102-29 could be clarified and modified. The Special Board was authorized under Pub. Law 102-29 to conduct hearings and to issue a report that would become binding ten days after its release.

 II

 Issues in Dispute

 One of the main issues in dispute before the Special Board was the question of how many workers each crew on a train would consist. This is referred to by the parties as the "crew consist" issue.

 Among its clarifications, the Special Board stated that the standard to be applied in any crew consist arbitration was the arbitration model used by Arbitration Board 509 with respect to an arbitration involving the Chicago & North Western Transportation Company, hereinafter referred to as the CNW/509 model.

 The UTU has expressed its views that under that model crew reductions are to be accomplished in two steps. Initially, the crew composition would be reduced by one brakeman, this initial reduction to be a condition precedent to a further reduction to what is called "conductor-only." *fn3"

 In December of 1991, the parties had still not reached agreement on the crew consist issue. Therefore, pursuant to the procedures of Pub. Law 102-29, a three-member Arbitration Panel was appointed to resolve that issue. After holding hearings in Pittsburgh, the Panel issued its decision on December 31, 1991. One of the principal features of that decision is that all "through-freight, work and yard transfer trains" are to have a crew consisting of one engineer and one conductor, eliminating two brakemen positions. The award also permits the railroads involuntarily to buy out surplus workers.

 In Civil Action 92-0217, the railroad carriers have petitioned for confirmation and enforcement of the award. UTU has counterclaimed and has sought an injunction, the argument being that the Arbitration Panel exceeded its jurisdiction and went beyond the scope of the arbitration agreement by failing to institute the precise solution adopted by the Arbitration Board in the Chicago & North Western dispute. In Miscellaneous No. 92-0047, UTU filed a complaint seeking to impeach the award. Consequently, the Court consolidated the cases for hearing and decision.

 On March 24, 1992, the Court heard oral argument from both parties. UTU had filed for a preliminary injunction in Civil Action No. 92-0217, but pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(a)(2), the Court consolidated the motion with a hearing on the merits, and the parties have agreed to a merits decision. The reduction in crew size pursuant to the Arbitration Panel decision was originally to take place on April 1, 1992, but the carriers informed the Court that they would ...


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