2. Risk of Irreparable Injury
As the Court indicated supra, the parties have stipulated that a strike is imminent and that irreparable injury would occur if the BMWE were to strike against one or more of the carriers. Inj. Hr'g Tr. at 20, 30. In light of this stipulation, the Court has little trouble finding that this factor weighs heavily in favor of granting the carriers' request for injunctive relief.
3. Harm to Other Parties and the Public Interest
The imminent threat of a strike against one or more of the nation's rail carriers presents a substantial threat to the public interest. As the Court previously indicated, the purpose of the RLA is to prevent railroad strikes and interruptions to interstate commerce. Detroit & Toledo, 396 U.S. at 148. Where, as here, the public is threatened with a loss of vital rail service and an interruption of interstate commerce long before the disputing parties have exhausted the RLA dispute resolution procedures, there can be little doubt that the public interest lies in enforcing the parties' obligation to maintain the status quo pending the exhaustion of the RLA's remedies. Id. As the Court of Appeals stated in its Order affirming this Court's denial of the earlier requests for injunctive relief, "it appears to be in the public's interest to try to resolve the bargaining challenges without altering the status of the parties through a preliminary injunction." Alton & Southern, No. 95-7042, slip op. at 2. Here, the Court is faced with a situation where the parties are finally ready to sit down together at a bargaining table with the NMB. If the Court does not enjoin the imminent strike, the status quo will be altered and the parties may refuse to exhaust the RLA's procedures. Because a preliminary injunction is the "only practical, effective means of enforcing the duty to exert every reasonable effort to make and maintain agreements," the Court finds that the public interest weighs strongly in favor of issuing injunctive relief. Chicago & Northwestern Ry. Co. v. United Transp. Union, 402 U.S. 570, 583, 29 L. Ed. 2d 187, 91 S. Ct. 1731 (1971).
The RLA's provisions are "purposefully long and drawn out, based on the hope that reason and practical considerations will provide in time an agreement that resolves the dispute." Brotherhood of Ry. & S.S. Clerks v. Florida E. Coast Ry. Co., 384 U.S. 238, 246, 16 L. Ed. 2d 501, 86 S. Ct. 1420 (1966). Because of the parties' differing interpretations of the RLA, months have gone by without any attempts to pursue the RLA's dispute resolution procedures. Now that the NMB has proffered its services, the carriers and the BMWE will at least have an opportunity to sit down and attempt to resolve their differences.
Because the RLA's long and drawn out procedures have only just begun, the Court finds that any attempt by the BMWE to alter the status quo by exercising self help would be quite premature, would cause irreparable harm, and would be contrary to the public interest. Accordingly, the Court will grant the carriers' request for a preliminary injunction.
April 28th, 1995
Thomas F. Hogan
United States District Judge
For the reasons expressed in the Court's Memorandum Opinion, it is this 28th day of April, 1995, hereby
ORDERED that Plaintiffs' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction [Docket # 53] is GRANTED; and it is further
ORDERED that the defendant, its divisions, lodges, locals, officers, General Chairmen, agents, employees, members, and all persons acting in concert with any of them, be, and they hereby are, preliminarily enjoined, until the Court acts finally on the plaintiffs' prayer for a permanent injunction, from authorizing, encouraging, permitting, calling, engaging in or continuing any strikes, picketing, work stoppages, or other self help against the plaintiffs relating to the dispute or disputes arising from the § 6 notices served in the round of bargaining that commenced on or about November 1, 1994, before the expiration of thirty days following termination of mediation by the National Mediation Board under § 5 of the Railway Labor Act ("RLA"), and completion of emergency board procedures thereafter if an emergency board is established under § 10 of the RLA; and it is further
ORDERED that the defendant shall make all reasonable efforts to prevent its divisions, lodges, locals, officers, General Chairmen, agents, employees, members, and all persons acting in concert with any of them from engaging in conduct enjoined by this injunction, and shall discipline those who engage in such conduct; and it is further
ORDERED that this preliminary injunction is granted upon the condition that, within 24 hours after this Order issues, a nominal bond in the sum of $ 1000, or cash in that amount, be filed to make good such damages not to exceed said sum as may be entered or sustained by anyone who is found to be wrongfully enjoined or restrained; and it is further
ORDERED that this preliminary injunction may be served by any person over the age of 18 years selected for the purpose by a plaintiff.
Issued at: 2:30 p.m.
28th April 1995
Thomas F. Hogan
United States District Judge