The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICARDO URBINA, District Judge
DENYING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION
This case comes before the court on the plaintiff's motion for
a preliminary injunction.*fn1 The plaintiff, the
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
("IAM"), is a labor organization representing employees in the
railroad industry. One of the defendants, the National Mediation
Board ("NMB" or "Board"), is the federal agency currently
mediating a labor dispute between IAM and the rail carriers
represented by the National Carriers Conference Committee
("NCCC") pursuant to the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. § 151 et
seq. Defendants Edward J. Fitzmaurice, Jr. and Read Van de Water are members of
the NMB board, and defendant Harry R. Hoglander is Chairman of
the NMB. The plaintiff seeks an injunction to compel the
defendants to terminate mediation and proffer arbitration in the
labor dispute. The court denies the plaintiff's motion for a
preliminary injunction because the plaintiff fails to demonstrate
that it is likely to succeed on the merits, that it will suffer
irreparable harm, or that a preliminary injunction furthers the
In late 1999, IAM (the collective bargaining representative for
nearly 8,000 rail carrier employees) and the rail carriers
represented by NCCC exchanged notices proposing changes to
collective bargaining agreements.*fn2 Compl. ¶ 8. From
January 2000 to February 2001, IAM and the NCCC met for
bargaining at least twelve times, but the parties were unable to
reach an agreement on issues concerning wages and the size of the
retroactive employee contribution to health and welfare. Id. ¶¶
9, 12 13. The NCCC invoked the NMB's mediation services in
February 2001.*fn3 Id., Ex. D. IAM and the carriers have
been involved in the NMB mediation process since that time. Id.
Between February 2001 and January 2005, IAM and the NCCC
attended thirteen NMB mediation sessions. Id. ¶¶ 12, 15.
Representatives of the parties have also met privately with the NMB on a few occasions. Defs' Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. for Prelim. and
Permanent Inj. Relief, Gibbons Decl. ¶ 33 ("Gibbons Decl.");
Compl., Ex. G. In April 2002, IAM made a request that the NMB end
mediation and proffer arbitration. Gibbons Decl. ¶ 29. A "proffer
of arbitration" is an industry term describing the Railway Labor
Act requirement that the NMB endeavor parties to submit their
dispute to arbitration once its mediation efforts have failed.
Pl.'s Mot. for Prelim. and Permanent Injunctive Relief, Reynolds
Decl. ¶ 5 ("Reynolds Decl."). See also 45 U.S.C. § 155. IAM has
requested that the NMB end mediation and proffer arbitration
numerous times since the April 2002 request, including two
additional times in 2002, four times in 2003, three times in
2004, and one time in 2005. Gibbons Decl. ¶ 29; Compl. ¶¶ 19-25,
Despite IAM's requests for a proffer, the NMB has not yet
issued a proffer recommendation. In April 2004, NMB staff made a
recommendation on the proffer request to the three NMB board
members, defendants Hoglander, Fitzmaurice, and Van de Water.
Pl.'s Reply Mem. in Supp. of Pl.'s Mot. for Prelim. and Permanent
Injunctive Relief ("Pl.'s Reply") at 9. On April 20, 2004,
Hoglander voted in favor of the proffer, and on May 4, 2004, Van
de Water voted against the proffer. Reynolds Decl. ¶ 28. Board
member Fitzmaurice did not vote on the proffer request. Id. Two
Board members must vote in favor of the proffer request before
the NMB may terminate the mediation process. Gibbons Decl. ¶ 33.
To this day, Fitzmaurice has not voted on the proffer request.
Pl.'s Reply at 9. Additionally, in mid-2004, Hoglander advised
IAM that the NMB has been unable to issue a proffer
recommendation because the other two Board members believe that
the parties are still in negotiations. See Pl.'s Reply, Roach
Decl. Ex. A. The plaintiff characterizes the NMB's refusal to
proffer arbitration as akin to "imprisoning the union until it
confesses that the Board knows better." Pl.'s Reply at 9. The parties' relationship is further complicated by a September
2004 e-mail exchange. Specifically, on September 15, 2004, a
Union Pacific Railroad employee, James C. Miller, sent an e-mail
to the NMB stating that he worked for the Union Pacific Railroad
and that he belonged to a machinists' union in North Platt,
Nebraska. Compl., Ex. K. Miller wrote, "5 years without a
contract seems long enough, by Law should'ent [sic] this be
resolved, is this not why the NMB was formed?" Id. Daniel
Rainey, the head of the NMB's Office of Alternative Dispute
Resolution Services, advised Miller that the NMB did not have an
application for mediation between the Union Pacific Railroad and
IAM. Id., Ex. L. As a result, Rainey directed Miller to
"consult with [his] union representative regarding this matter."
Id. Rainey's letter adds that Miller may wish to consult the
union's procedures or a private attorney if he felt that his
union was not representing his interests. Id.
On April 20, 2005, the plaintiff filed a complaint for
declaratory and injunctive relief along with a motion for a
preliminary injunction. As of the date the complaint was filed,
the dispute has been on the NMB's mediation docket for about four
years. The court now turns to the preliminary injunction motion.
A. Legal Standard for Injunctive Relief
This court may issue interim injunctive relief only when the
(1) a substantial likelihood of success on the
merits, (2) that it would suffer irreparable injury
if the injunction is not granted, (3) that an
injunction would not substantially injure other
interested parties, and (4) that the public interest
would be furthered by the injunction. Mova Pharm. Corp. v. Shalala, 140 F.3d 1060, 1066 (D.C. Cir.
1998) (quoting CityFed Fin. Corp. v. Office of Thrift
Supervision, 58 F.3d 738, 746 (D.C. Cir. 1995)); see also World
Duty Free Americas, Inc. v. Summers, 94 F. Supp. 2d 61, 64
(D.D.C. 2000). It is particularly important for the movant to
demonstrate a substantial likelihood of success on the merits.
Cf. Benten v. Kessler, 505 U.S. 1084, 1085 (1992) (per curiam).
Indeed, absent a "substantial indication" of likely success on
the merits, "there would be no justification for the court's
intrusion into the ordinary processes of administration and
judicial review." Am. Bankers Ass'n v. Nat'l Credit Union
Admin., 38 F. Supp. 2d 114, 140 (D.D.C. 1999) (internal
The four factors should be balanced on a sliding scale, and a
party can compensate for a lesser showing on one factor by making
a very strong showing on another factor. CSX Transp., Inc. v.
Williams, ___ F.3d ___, 2005 WL 1023044 (D.C. Cir. May 3, 2005)
(citing CityFed Fin. Corp., 58 F.3d at 747). "An injunction may
be justified, for example, where there is a particularly strong
likelihood of success on the ...