Appeal from a grant of summary judgment in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Pratt, J. The appellant is an employer seeking damages against a union for unfair labor practices. The district court dismissed the complaint on the ground that appellee was not a "labor organization" subject to the National Labor Relations Act. Reversed and remanded.
Anderson and Meskill, Circuit Judges, and Markey, Chief Judge, U.s. Court of Customs and Patent Appeals.*fn*
This case provides a graphic reminder of Mr. Justice Frankfurter's admonition that the process of statutory construction cannot be reduced to "the precision of a syllogism."*fn1
The case was begun in the Eastern District of New York by an employer seeking damages against a union for alleged unfair labor practices, as provided for in § 303(b) of the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 187(b). The sole question presented on this appeal is whether a union organized under the Railway Labor Act ("RLA"), 45 U.S.C. §§ 151, et seq., is a "labor organization" subject to the secondary boycott provisions of NLRA § 8(b)(4), 29 U.S.C. § 158(b)(4). A literal reading of the cross references of the NLRA suggests that it is not, although the legislative history is clearly to the contrary. The district court held that the statute was clear on its face, and dismissed the complaint. 418 F. Supp. 609 (E.D.N.Y. 1976). We reverse.
This case has its origins in a labor dispute between KLM Royal Dutch Airlines ("KLM") and its employees who are represented by Local 504 of the Transport Workers of America ("Local 504"). The labor relations of KLM and Local 504 were, and are, governed by the RLA.*fn2 Prior to 1972, KLM prepared meals for its flights at its commissary at Kennedy Airport. During contract negotiations that year, KLM announced its intention to close the commissary and hire an independent contractor to prepare its meals. The bargaining reached an impasse, and Local 504 began a strike on October 27, 1972.
The National Mediation Board invoked the six-month "cooling off" period of the RLA, but the parties were unable to resolve their dispute. When the period ended in June, 1973, KLM dismissed all the commissary employees, and the strike resumed.
The sub-contractor chosen by KLM was Marriott In-Flite Services ("Marriott"). In addition to supplying meals for KLM flights, Marriott took over the KLM commissary.*fn3 The striking employees picketed there, allegedly preventing its use. Marriott then began this lawsuit in the Eastern District of New York, contending that Local 504's actions constituted illegal secondary picketing.
Before 1959, the NLRA did not ban secondary boycotts by RLA unions. The predecessor of § 8(b)(4)(B) then read:
(b) It shall be an unfair labor practice for a labor organization or its agents -
(4) to engage in, or to induce or encourage the employees of any employer to engage in, a strike or a concerted refusal in the course of their employment to use, manufacture, process, transport, or otherwise handle or work on any goods, articles, materials, or commodities or to perform any services, where an object thereof is: (A) forcing or requiring any employer or self-employed person to join any labor or employer organization or any employer or other person to cease using, selling, handling, transporting, or otherwise dealing in the products of any other producer, processor, or manufacturer, or to cease doing business with any other person; (B) forcing or requiring any other employer to recognize or bargain with a labor organization as the representative of his employees unless such labor organization has been certified as the representative of such employees under the provisions of section 9.
The National Labor Relations Board concluded that secondary activities by Railway Labor Act Unions were not covered under this section, because of the definitions of "employer," "employee" and "labor organization". See, e.g., ...