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Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen v. National Railroad Passenger Corp.

United States District Court, District of Columbia

May 18, 2018

BROTHERHOOD OF RAILROAD SIGNALMEN, Plaintiff,
v.
NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DABNEY L. FRIEDRICH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This case is a dispute between Amtrak and a union under the Railway Labor Act, which establishes two tracks for resolving labor disputes. “Major” disputes are within the jurisdiction of federal district courts, but “minor” disputes must first go to arbitration. Because this dispute is minor, the Court lacks jurisdiction and will grant Amtrak's Motion to Dismiss. Dkt. 7.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (the Union) is the designated bargaining representative for employees working in the signalman class or craft, including signalmen employed by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, known as Amtrak. Compl. ¶¶ 1-2, Dkt. 1. Union signalmen install and maintain Amtrak's railroad signal and communications systems and equipment. Id. ¶ 5. The Union and Amtrak have a collective bargaining agreement that establishes the rates of pay, rules, and working conditions for signalmen employed by Amtrak. See Id. ¶ 6; Collective Bargaining Agreement (Agreement), Dkt. 7-3; see also Jindal Decl. ¶ 3, Dkt. 7-2.

         Rule 7 of the collective bargaining agreement divides Amtrak lines and facilities into districts. Compl. ¶ 6. Relevant here, Southern Seniority District 3 is the “Chesapeake Division”; it covers the Amtrak lines and facilities from Darby, Pennsylvania to the southern limits of the Washington Terminal in Washington, D.C. See Agreement Rule 7, Dkt. 7-3 at 6. Notably, the collective bargaining agreement has not always covered the Washington Terminal, which was owned by the Washington Terminal Company until the early 1980s. Jindal Decl. ¶ 7. When Amtrak acquired the Washington Terminal in the early 1980s, Amtrak and the Union supplemented their collective bargaining agreement to cover signalmen work at the Terminal. Id. In 1984, they added Appendix B-11, which states:

In view of the transaction which will result in the assumption by Amtrak of the Communication and Signal work formerly performed by employees of the Washington Terminal Company, the parties agree to the following . . .
Seniority District No. 3 - Chesapeake Division as described in the [collective bargaining agreement] is modified to include the former Washington Terminal Company property within that seniority district . . . .

Agreement App. B-11, Dkt. 7-3 at 11.

         Rule 1 of the collective bargaining agreement-the scope rule-describes the scope of work that accrues to the Union. As to covered districts like the Chesapeake Division, the scope rule provides:

These Rules, subject to the exceptions hereinafter set forth, shall constitute Agreements between Amtrak and its Communication and Signal Department employees of the classification herein set [forth] engaged in the installation and maintenance of all signals, interlockings, telegraph and telephone lines and equipment including telegraph and telephone office equipment, wayside or office equipment of communicating systems (not including such equipment), highway crossing protection (excluding highway crossing gates not operated in conjunction with track or signal circuits) including repair and adjustment of telegraph, telephone and signal relays and the wiring of telegraph, telephone and signal instrument cases, and the maintenance of car retarder systems, and all other work in connection with installation and maintenance thereof that has generally been recognized as telegraph, telephone or signal work-represented by the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen and shall govern the hours of service, working conditions and rates of pay of the respective positions and employees of Amtrak, specified in Rule 2 hereof, namely Electronic Specialists, Electronic Technicians, Inspectors, Assistant Inspectors, Foremen, Assistant Foremen, C&S Maintainers, Maintainers, Signalmen, Assistant Signalmen, Trainees and Helpers.
The employees in the Communication and Signal Department shall continue to install, maintain and repair, and do testing incident thereto, of all devices and apparatus . . . which are part of the signal or telegraph and telephone systems, to the extent that such work is now being performed by employees of the Communication and Signal Department. This paragraph shall not, however, prejudice any rights which such employees may have under the Scope Rule, exclusive of this modification, to claim work performed by other crafts in violation of the Scope Rule.

Agreement Rule 1, Dkt. 7-3 at 3; see also Compl. ¶ 7.

         The scope rule also contemplates that Amtrak may contract out “scope work” in certain circumstances:

Amtrak may not contract out work normally performed by an employee in a bargaining unit covered by a contract between a labor organization and Amtrak or a rail carrier that provided intercity rail passenger transportation on October 30, 1970, if contracting ...

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