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Sanders v. Air Line Pilots Association

decided: December 4, 1972.

LELAND SANDERS, PETITIONER-APPELLANT
v.
AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION, INTERNATIONAL ET AL., RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES



Hays, Oakes and Timbers, Circuit Judges.

Author: Timbers

TIMBERS, C. J.:

This appeal arises from the denial of a motion for a preliminary injunction sought by appellant on behalf of a group of senior employees in an action involving a labor dispute with both their employer and formal bargaining representative.

After a hearing in the District Court for the Southern District of New York, John M. Cannella, District Judge, an order was entered (1) denying appellant's motion for a preliminary injunction which sought to enjoin appellee Air Line Pilots Association, International, from breaching its statutory duty of fair representation, 45 U.S.C. § 151 et seq. (1970), and appellee Airlift International, Inc. from effecting changes in appellant's seniority rights; and (2) modifying an earlier order which had stayed processing of a related grievance.

Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(d) and the traditional requirements for determining whether a preliminary injunction should issue, we affirm that portion of the order relating to appellant's motion, and modify that part relating to the stay of the collateral grievance.

I.

Background Facts

In 1961, an agreement was entered into between Slick Airways, Inc. (Slick), 15 of its senior flight engineers (the Grandfathers), and the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), the latter being the recognized representative of all of Slick's flight employees. Included in the agreement was a provision that the Grandfathers (the class represented by appellant here) would have job rights over all other Slick employees. To handle disputes, a Joint Grievance Board was established, consisting of one representative each of Slick, ALPA, and the Grandfathers. Binding arbitration was to follow any non-unanimous decision of the Board.

In 1966, Slick merged with Airlift International, Inc. (Airlift). Subsequent events indicated that both Airlift and ALPA (the representative of Airlift's, as well as Slick's, flight employees) interpreted the 1961 agreement in light of the merger as giving the Grandfathers job rights vis-a-vis former Slick employees only, with seniority to be measured from the date of the merger rather than the date of employment by Slick. Beginning in 1971, the Grandfathers sought to bring this matter before the Joint Grievance Board in accordance with the 1961 agreement. Both ALPA and Airlift refused, contending that the merger had extinguished the Joint Grievance Board and had established in its place the System Board of Adjustment. This latter body had no separate Grandfather representation. Upon the continuing refusal of ALPA to appoint a representative to the Joint Grievance Board (Airlift eventually having done so), the Grandfathers served a demand for arbitration under New York law. N.Y. Civ. Prac. Law § 7503 (McKinney 1963). A petition to compel arbitration was filed in the state court on June 28, 1971. The case subsequently was removed to the Southern District of New York.

In the ensuing months, a new "base bid award" was made (under which all available jobs were re-assigned on a seniority preference basis), despite an alleged agreement between ALPA and the Grandfathers to abstain from such a procedure pending arbitration of the Grandfathers' grievance. The base bid award purportedly resulted in a significant deterioration of the Grandfathers' rights and relative position.

The Grandfathers moved in the district court for a preliminary injunction enjoining (1) the processing by appellees of a certain related grievance,*fn1 (2) the breach by ALPA of its duty of fair representation under the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. § 151 et seq. (1970), and (3) the effecting by Airlift of changes in the Grandfathers' seniority rights. On June 22, 1972, the district court entered an order granting a stay of the processing of the related grievance and denying the remainder of the motion. The court on July 18, 1972 modified the provision of its order which stayed the processing of the related grievance to a "stay until such time as the judge who is assigned the case passes on it."

II.

Specificity Requirement of Rule 65(d)

Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(d) provides that "every order granting an injunction . . . shall be specific in terms [and] shall describe in reasonable detail . . . the act or acts sought to be restrained. . . ." The preliminary injunction sought by appellant, if granted, would enjoin ALPA from breaching its duty of fair representation and Airlift from effecting changes in the seniority rights of appellant. ALPA and ...


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