The opinion of the court was delivered by: HERLANDS
This motion for summary judgment by defendant-railroad is granted for the reasons set forth in this opinion.
The question presented by this motion is whether or not the disputes clause contained in a collective bargaining agreement, which provides that decisions of the particular System Board of Adjustment shall be 'final and binding,' precludes the bringing of the present action by plaintiff, a discharged employee of defendant.
The complaint if predicated upon a claim that plaintiff, a private patrolman formerly employed by defendant, was improperly discharged from his employment; that the procedure set up by the collective bargaining agreement between defendant and the labor union of which plaintiff was a member had not been lawfully observed, in that a private administrative hearing accorded plaintiff did not afford him a fair trial; and that hence plaintiff is entitled to $ 50,000 damages for his wrongful discharge.
The proper determination of this motion requires a consideration of (1) the pertinent provisions of the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq.; (2) the controlling terms and provisions of the collective bargaining agreement, pursuant to which a voluntary System Board of Adjustment was set up; and (3) the record of the proceedings, which resulted in a preliminary hearing, a trial hearing, and an appellate hearing, and which eventuated in the dismissal of plaintiff.
Reduced to its essence, plaintiff's claim is that he did not receive a fair hearing, and that his fundamental rights have thus been invaded. Plaintiff does not dispute the fact that at all of the pertinent times involved herein, he was a member of The Pennsylvania Railroad Company and the Long Island Railroad Company Police Officers' Benevolent Association, Inc., which was the representative of employees of the plaintiff's class; that the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between said union and defendant were an integral part of plaintiff's contract of employment; that plaintiff was bound by all of the terms of the collective bargaining agreement; and, in particular, that plaintiff was bound by the disputes clause, which is the fulcrum on which this case turns.
The relevant provisions of the Railway Labor Act are contained in 45 U.S.C.A. 153, First (i) and Second. Section 153, First (i) provides that disputes between an employee or group of employees and a carrier or carriers growing out of grievances or out of the interpretation or application of agreements concerning rates of pay, rules, or working conditions, shall be handled in the usual manner up to and including the chief operating officer of the carrier designated to handle such disputes, but failing to reach an adjustment in this manner, the disputes may be referred by petition of the parties or by either party to the appropriate division of the National Adjustment Board. Section 153, Second provides that nothing in the section shall be construed to prevent any individual carrier, system, or group of carriers and any class or classes of its of their employees, all acting through their representatives, selected in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, from mutually agreeing to the establishment of system groups, or regional boards of adjustment for the purpose of adjusting and deciding disputes of the character specified in section 153.
Thus, the setting up of the voluntary System Board of Adjustment by and between defendant-railroad and the union -- which Board has already passed negatively on Plaintiff's allegations of an unfair trial and discharge without cause -- was under the authorization of the above section of the Railway Labor Act.
An Examination of the printed collective bargaining agreement, which has been submitted to the Court in booklet form, indicates that the following are the decisive provisions:
'(a) The outline of the method in which controversial matters are to be handled as set forth below is for the purpose of expeditious, conclusive adjustment of matters presented, to the end that there may be a satisfied and cooperative spirit among the officers and employes. * * *' (Emphasis supplied.)
'10. The decisions of this Board of Adjustment shall be stated in writing. Copies of each decision shall be furnished to the respective parties to the controversy. Additional copies shall be furnished to the members of the Board.
'The decisions of the Board shall be final and binding upon all parties to the dispute.' (Emphasis supplied.)
The full record of the proceedings had herein had been examined by me. The following is a chronological summary of the events which lead to the discharge of plaintiff.
During August 1954, the proprietor of an outboard motor sales and repair shop informed defendant-railroad that a motor had been left with him for repair, which he identified as one that had been missing from a shipment of motors consigned to his shop over the lines of defendant-railroad about two years previously and with respect to which he had filed a shortage claim. He also informed defendant that plaintiff claimed to be the owner ...