Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

CSX TRANSP., INC. v. UNITED TRANSP. UNION

June 14, 1991

CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED TRANSPORTATION UNION, F.A. HARDIN, J.A. CIANCIOTTI, R.W. EARLY, UNITED TRANSPORTATION UNION, YARDMASTERS DEPARTMENT, B.R. CARVER, RICHARD P. DEGENOVA, AMERICAN TRAIN DISPATCHERS ASSOCIATION, R.J. IRVIN, HUGH E. MARTIN, BROTHERHOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS, L.D. MCFATHER, J.A. LECLAIR, BROTHERHOOD OF MAINTENANCE OF WAY EMPLOYEES, G.N. ZEH, B.J. TWIGG, TRANSPORTATION COMMUNICATIONS INTERNATIONAL UNION, R.D. KILROY, DWIGHT A. VANCE, L.H. TACKETT, TRANSPORTATION COMMUNICATIONS INTERNATIONAL UNION, C.E. WHEELER, M.L. CRAWFORD, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MACHINISTS AND AEROSPACE WORKERS, J.F. PETERPAUL, A.J. SARCONE, W.D. SNELL, INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF FIREMEN AND OILERS, J.L. WALKER, D.S. ANDERSON, SHEET METAL WORKERS INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION, D.C. BUCHANAN, A.R. HICKS, INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS, E.P. MCENTEE, GEORGE L. LAITILE, BROTHERHOOD OF RAILROAD SIGNALMEN, V.M. SPEAKMAN, JR., C.T. GREEN, DEFENDANTS. AMERICAN TRAIN DISPATCHERS ASSOCIATION, BROTHERHOOD OF MAINTENANCE OF WAY EMPLOYEES, BROTHERHOOD OF RAILROAD SIGNALMEN, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MACHINISTS AND AEROSPACE WORKERS, INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF FIREMEN AND OILERS, SHEET METAL WORKERS' INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION, AND TRANSPORTATION COMMUNICATIONS INTERNATIONAL UNION (TCU), PLAINTIFFS, V. CSX TRANSPORTATION UNION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Curtin, District Judge.

  BACKGROUND

The parties to the present actions are CSX Transportation, Inc. ("CSXT"), a "carrier" within the meaning of the Railway Labor Act ("RLA"), 45 U.S.C. § 151, First, and the United Transportation Union ("UTU") and American Train Dispatchers Association ("ATDA"), as well as other unions and individuals (hereinafter collectively referred to as the "Unions"), all of whom are "representatives" of former CSXT rail employees within the meaning of the RLA, 45 U.S.C. § 151, Sixth. They have been before this court previously. Decker v. CSX Transp., Inc., 672 F. Supp. 674 (1987) ("Decker I"), vacated, 688 F. Supp. 98 (W.D.N.Y. 1988), aff'd sub nom., CSX Transp., Inc. v. United Transp. Union, 879 F.2d 990 (2d Cir. 1989), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 110 S.Ct. 720, 107 L.Ed.2d 740 (1990) ("Decker II"). These prior cases have outlined in extensive detail the factual background leading to the present disputes. See id. However, a brief review of that background is also in order here.

CSXT owns and operates approximately 21,000 miles of rail line. The prior and present disputes both arise from CSXT's efforts to sell 369 miles of rail line between Buffalo, New York, and Eidenau, Pennsylvania. CSXT sought to sell that line because of its marginal profitability shortly after acquiring it in 1987 from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad ("B & O"), which had been merged into CSXT. As a result of that merger, CSXT assumed responsibility for all collective bargaining agreements that had existed between the former B & O and the Unions representing employees on the Buffalo-Eidenau line.

On September 16, 1987, CSXT entered into a letter of intent to sell the Buffalo-Eidenau line to a newly formed corporation, Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad, Inc. ("B & P"). As a corporation not previously in the railroad business, B & P was not statutorily required to employ, or to enforce the collective bargaining agreements of, any of the 226 former CSXT employees of the Buffalo-Eidenau line. Decker II, 688 F. Supp. at 101-02. Under its sales agreement with CSXT, however, B & P did pledge to offer jobs to at least 160 of those former employees, albeit on different terms. Id. at 101.

Given the significant loss of jobs which would result from the sale, and the potentially less favorable employment terms for those jobs that remained, the Unions sought to prevent the sale until bargaining between the Unions and CSXT over the effects of the sale could be completed. Accordingly, just prior to the signing of the letter of intent to sell, the Unions served notices on CSXT pursuant to RLA § 6, 45 U.S.C. § 156, seeking "an intended change in agreements affecting rates of pay, rules, or working conditions." Id. By filing these notices, the Unions sought to amend their then-existing collective bargaining agreements with CSXT to include or strengthen labor-protective provisions during a line sale. The Unions acknowledged that these agreements did not provide sufficient labor protections in the event of a sale. See Decker II, 879 F.2d at 1000.*fn1

To understand the Unions' actions, we must digress briefly to explain the importance of § 6 in the structure of the railroad industry's labor-management relations. In the railroad industry, new collective bargaining agreements are not always negotiated according to a predetermined schedule. Cf. Burlington Northern R.R. v. Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes, 481 U.S. 429, 432, 107 S.Ct. 1841, 1844, 95 L.Ed.2d 381 (1987). Instead, the Railway Labor Act offers § 6, 45 U.S.C. § 156, which enables either party at any time, by filing the proper notice, to initiate negotiations over newly proposed provisions to such collective bargaining agreements. Section 6 then triggers an "elaborate machinery for negotiation, mediation, voluntary arbitration, and conciliation" between the parties. Detroit & Toledo Shore Line R.R. v. United Transp. Union, 396 U.S. 142, 148-49, 90 S.Ct. 294, 298-99, 24 L.Ed.2d 325 (1969). See also id. at 149 n. 14, 90 S.Ct. at 298 n. 14 (detailing negotiation steps). Most importantly for labor, however, until such negotiations are complete, § 6 requires preservation of the status quo.

  In every case where such notice of intended change
  has been given, . . . rates of pay, rules, or
  working conditions shall not be altered by the
  carrier until the controversy has been finally
  acted upon as required by section 155 of this
  title, by the Mediation Board. . . .

RLA § 6, 45 U.S.C. § 156 (emphasis added). This status quo obligation extends also to the unions, who may not strike during negotiation periods. Shore Line, 396 U.S. at 149-50, 90 S.Ct. at 298-99. In this way, Congress established a framework to stabilize the often volatile labor-management relations in the railroad industry. Chicago & Northwestern Transp. Co. v. Railway Labor Executives' Ass'n, 855 F.2d 1277, 1281 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 966, 109 S.Ct. 493, 102 L.Ed.2d 529 (1988).

After filing § 6 notices, the Unions then filed suit in state court, subsequently removed to this court, to enjoin CSXT from altering the status quo until it had bargained with the Unions over the effects of the sale on CSXT's employees. CSXT defended this suit on two grounds: first, that moratorium provisions in the collective bargaining agreements barred suit, Decker II, 688 F. Supp. at 102 & n. 4, and second, that the line sale was subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Commission ("ICC"), thus rendering the RLA inapplicable. Id. at 102. This court initially dismissed this suit on the ground that the ICC's jurisdiction preempted the RLA. Decker I, 672 F. Supp. 674, vacated, 688 F. Supp. 98. This decision was later vacated on motion by the Unions. Decker II, 688 F. Supp. at 107-09, aff'd, 879 F.2d 990. Before this court could reconsider that question, however, CSXT filed suit in this court seeking a declaratory judgment that it had no statutory obligation to bargain with the Unions prior to the line sale, and an injunction against Union self-help, including strikes. The Unions counter-claimed, again asking that the status quo be maintained and the sale enjoined until the RLA's dispute resolution procedures could be exhausted. See Decker II, 688 F. Supp. at 103.*fn2

At that stage of the controversy, once this court had concluded that the labor protection provisions of the RLA were not preempted by the Interstate Commerce Act ("ICA"), Decker II, 688 F. Supp. at 107-09, aff'd, 879 F.2d 990, the main question was whether the line sale and attendant layoffs of union employees on the Buffalo-Eidenau line was a "major" or "minor" dispute under the RLA. Id. at 109-12, aff'd, 879 F.2d at 995-1002.

There are two very different dispute resolution procedures under the RLA. Although the statute does not mention them, the Supreme Court has labelled them "major" and "minor."

    The first ["major"] relates to disputes over the
  formation of collective agreements or efforts to
  secure them. They arise where there is no such
  agreement or where it is sought to change the
  terms of one, and therefore the issue is not
  whether an existing agreement controls the
  controversy. They look to the acquisition of
  rights for the future, not to assertion of rights
  claimed to have vested in the past.
    The second class ["minor"], however,
  contemplates the existence of a collective
  agreement already concluded or, at any rate, a
  situation in which no effort is made to bring
  about a formal change in terms or to create a new
  one. The dispute relates either to the meaning or
  proper application of a particular provision with
  reference to a specific situation or to an omitted
  case. . . . In either case the claim is to rights
  accrued, not merely to have new ones created for
  the future.

Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Ry. v. Burley, 325 U.S. 711, 723, 65 S.Ct. 1282, 1290, 89 L.Ed. 1886 (1945). See also Consolidated Rail Corp. v. Railway Labor Executives' Ass'n, 491 U.S. 299, 302-07, 109 S.Ct. 2477, 2479-83, 105 L.Ed.2d 250 (1989). "[M]ajor disputes seek to create contractual rights, minor disputes to enforce them." Id. at 302, 109 S.Ct. at 2480. Major disputes are governed by § 2, Seventh, and § 6 of the RLA and require extensive negotiation and mediation. Id. See also Brotherhood of R.R. Trainmen v. Jacksonville Terminal Co., 394 U.S. 369, 378, 89 S.Ct. 1109, 1115, 22 L.Ed.2d 344 (1969) (explaining steps for resolution of major dispute). The parties may not resort to the use of economic force unless these extensive procedures conclude without agreement. Consolidated Rail, 491 U.S. at 303, 109 S.Ct. at 2480. Minor disputes are governed by § 2, Sixth, and § 3, First(i), of the RLA, which compels binding arbitration between the parties. Id.

The Unions argued this dispute was major because they were seeking, by filing § 6 notices, to add new labor-protective provisions to their collective bargaining agreements with CSXT. CSXT argued the dispute was minor because, rather than requiring new collective bargaining terms, the line sale and attendant layoffs of union members was permitted by the existing agreements. CSXT was not required to prove this contractual defense argument. Id. at 307, 109 S.Ct. at 2482-83; Decker II, 879 F.2d at 997-98. This question would be settled by arbitration. Consolidated Rail, 491 U.S. at 303, 109 S.Ct. at 2480. CSXT needed only to show that its alleged contractual justification for selling the line without bargaining was not "obviously insubstantial." Id. at 306-07, 109 S.Ct. at 2482-83; Decker II, 879 F.2d at 997. Absent even a plausible contractual justification for selling the line without prior effects bargaining with the Unions, the dispute would have been "major," and could not have gone forward until such effects bargaining was complete. Consolidated Rail, 491 U.S. at 302-03, 307, 109 S.Ct. at 2479-80, 2482-83; Decker II, 879 F.2d at 1003 n. 9; General Comm. of Adjustment, United Transp. Union v. CSX R.R., 893 F.2d 584, 591 (3d Cir. 1990).

This court held that the dispute between the Unions and CSXT was "minor" because

  a plausible interpretation of the collective
  bargaining agreements in effect between CSXT and
  the defendant unions would provide a substantial
  contractual justification for the sale of the
  Buffalo-Eidenau line without additional bargaining.

Decker II, 688 F. Supp. at 112 (emphasis added). The court based its conclusion on an evaluation of reduction-in-force ("RIF") clauses in CSXT's collective bargaining agreements*fn3 and past practices of CSXT with respect to line sales. Decker II, 688 F. Supp. at 110-12.*fn4 Accordingly, the dispute was subject to binding arbitration before the National Railroad Adjustment Board, pursuant to RLA § 3, First, 45 U.S.C. § 153, First, or a special adjustment board established by the parties pursuant to RLA § 3, Second, 45 U.S.C. § 153, Second. Decker II, 688 F. Supp. at 112.

It must be stressed that this holding was based on the carrier's contractual defense to the Unions' efforts to preserve the status quo through § 6's major dispute resolution procedures. CSXT was the party seeking arbitration, not the Unions. Id. at 109. As such, the burden to show this was a minor dispute, although slight, was on the carrier. Consolidated Rail, 491 U.S. at 307, 109 S.Ct. at 2482-83; Decker II, 879 F.2d at 999. This burden remained with the carrier during arbitration. Id. at 1003. See infra Part I(B).

Upon holding the dispute to be minor, this court then filed an order enjoining the Unions from engaging in strikes or other activity to prevent the line sale. The order also required CSXT to bargain with the Unions over the effects of the sale pursuant to the Unions' § 6 notices, 45 U.S.C. § 156, and permitted the line sale to proceed, subject to a stay during application for appeal. See Decker II, 879 F.2d at 994.

The decision and order were appealed by the Unions to the Second Circuit, which stayed the sale pending expedited review. Id. at 994-95. After oral argument the court lifted the stay on July 18, 1988, and the line was sold to B & P on July 19, 1988.

While the appeal to the Second Circuit was pending, on July 15, 1988, CSXT and the Unions agreed to the establishment of a special adjustment board ("Board"), to which they submitted their dispute pursuant to RLA § 3, Second, 45 U.S.C. § 153, Second. On December 15, 1988, the Board concluded that neither the language of any collective bargaining agreement between the parties, nor past practice, contractually authorized a sale of the Buffalo-Eidenau line by CSXT without bargaining over the effects of the sale on employees working on that line. Decker II, 879 F.2d at 995.

Upon issuance of the arbitration decision, CSXT and the Unions took divergent paths. The Unions moved the Second Circuit, which as of that time had not issued an opinion, to vacate this court's decision "`[s]ince there is no longer a basis for concluding that appellee [CSXT] has a contractual right to abolish jobs without first bargaining.'" Id. CSXT, on the other hand, initiated suit in this court challenging the findings of the Board on the ground that it exceeded its jurisdiction. CSX Transp., Inc. v. United Transp. Union, CIV-88-1404C ("CSXT").

The Second Circuit then issued its opinion, on June 7, 1989, agreeing with this court's decision in Decker II. Decker II, 879 F.2d at 1002. CSXT's proposed contractual defense was "plausible," and not "obviously insubstantial," and thus the dispute was minor. Decker II, 879 F.2d at 999. In reaching this conclusion, the court relied primarily on its interpretation of RIF provisions in CSXT's collective bargaining agreements, rather than CSXT's past practice during line sales. Id. at 1000.

As part of its decision, the Second Circuit went on to discuss the effect of the arbitration award. The court denied the Unions' motion to vacate this court's prior decision, noting that there was no conflict between this court's determination that CSXT had a "plausible" contractual defense and the Board's determination that CSXT's "position, although `arguable' and `plausible,' was, on careful analysis, unavailing." Id. at 1003 & n. 9.

After the Second Circuit's rejection of the Unions' motion, the Unions filed suit in this court, American Train Dispatchers Ass'n v. CSX Transp., Inc., CIV-90-481C ("ATDA"), asking the court to remand the original dispute to the Board to fashion a remedy in line with its decision. ATDA, Item 1. The Board's "award" stated only that: "The questions set before the Board are disposed of as provided in the Findings and Conclusions herein." CSXT, Item 1, Exh. C at 26; Decker II, 879 F.2d at 1002. Currently pending is the Unions' motion to amend their answer in CSXT to seek this same relief as a counterclaim to CSXT's 1988 suit. CSXT, Item 30. CSXT has moved to strike this suit and amended answer, arguing that the Unions should have asserted this claim as a compulsory counterclaim to its 1988 suit. See ATDA, Item 14 at 7-13.

Thus, the controversy as it now stands before this court is as follows:

  1)  Did the Board exceed its jurisdiction in
      holding that CSXT's contractual defense
      arguments, although plausible, were ultimately
      unpersuasive?
  2)  If the Board did not exceed its jurisdiction,
      should the Unions be nonetheless barred from
      bringing their action asking this court to
      fashion an order out of the Board's decision
      because the Unions should have brought this
      action as a compulsory counterclaim to CSXT's
      1988 suit?
  3)  If the Unions are not so barred, what order
      should this court frame out of the Board's
      decision?

DISCUSSION

I. DID THE BOARD EXCEED ITS JURISDICTION?

The first issue to be considered is whether the Board exceeded its jurisdiction in rendering its decision of December 15, 1988. See CSXT, Item 1, Exh. C (Special Board of Adjustment No. 1018 decision) (hereinafter "Award").

Before proceeding further, it must be noted that the jurisdiction of this court to review arbitration decisions under the RLA is limited.

  The court shall have jurisdiction to affirm the
  order of the [Board] or to set it aside, in whole
  or in part, or it may remand the proceeding to the
  [Board] for such further action as it may direct.
  On such review, the findings and order of the
  [Board] shall be conclusive on the parties, except
  that the order of the [Board] may be set aside, in
  whole or in part, or remanded to the [Board], [1]
  for failure of the [Board] to comply with the
  requirements of this chapter, [2] for failure of
  the order to conform, or confine itself, to matters
  within the scope of the [Board's] jurisdiction, or
  [3] for fraud or corruption by a member of the
  [Board] making the order.

45 U.S.C. § 153, First (q) (emphasis added). See Consolidated Rail, 491 U.S. at 304, 109 S.Ct. at 2481; Decker II, 879 F.2d at 1003.

CSXT argues that the Board exceeded its jurisdiction in four ways. First, it formulated and decided an issue not put before it. Second, the Board's conclusion that CSXT's contractual defense was unavailing was based, not on CSXT's agreements or past practices, but on the Board's interpretation of the Unions' statutory rights under the RLA. Third, the Board's award was not based on the terms of collective bargaining agreements between the parties. Fourth, the Board attempted to rewrite the parties' agreements by effectively writing ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.