The opinion of the court was delivered by: AMON
AMON, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Plaintiffs seek a preliminary injunction barring the Long Island Railroad's imposition of a disciplinary fine. For the reasons stated below, plaintiffs' motion is denied and their case is dismissed.
On May 26, 1995, the plaintiffs in this case, all members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE), refused to report to their jobs on the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). This concerted job action halted all train service on the Long Island Railroad on the Friday before the Memorial Day holiday. In response to this walk-out, the LIRR immediately commenced a civil action seeking injunctive relief against the BLE, LIRR v. BLE, et. al., 95 CV 2142 (FB). On May 26, 1995, the Honorable Edward R. Korman, sitting as Miscellaneous Judge, issued a temporary restraining order compelling the engineers to return to work. The LIRR contends that it served the order in time for BLE members to report back to work in time to salvage the evening rush hour on May 26, 1995.
When BLE members failed to report to work during the afternoon of May 26, the LIRR returned to court to have the BLE and its members held in contempt for disobeying the court's order. In late June, and again in August, the Honorable Frederic Block held hearings on the LIRR's motion to hold the BLE and its members in contempt. While the court's decision on the contempt motion was pending, the parties settled their dispute, signing a settlement agreement on September 12, 1995.
After the commencement of the civil action, the LIRR instituted disciplinary actions against all BLE members who failed to report to work on May 26. As a result of these hearings, the LIRR assessed fines against all of the engineers. For 158 of these individuals, the fines equalled 5 days of pay -- approximately $ 1,000. Two engineers, with records of past disciplinary issues, received fines equalling 8 days of pay, or approximately $ 1,600.
Pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement, the fined BLE members had a right to internally appeal the disciplinary action taken by the LIRR at two levels before proceeding to arbitration under § 3 of the Railway Labor Act. 45 U.S.C. § 153 (1995). Soon after the initial imposition of the fines, the fined BLE members took their first level of appeal to the Acting Chief Transportation Officer of the LIRR. The Acting Chief Transportation Officer affirmed the original assessment of the fines against the BLE members, notifying the union of this decision by a letter dated August 9, 1995.
While the BLE followed this appeals process, the BLE and the LIRR engaged in negotiations both to settle their pending civil action and to finalize a collective bargaining agreement. On September 12, 1995, the LIRR and the BLE settled their pending action, agreeing, inter alia, that the LIRR would reserve the right to pursue its pending disciplinary actions against the BLE membership.
After the LIRR and the BLE settled their civil action, they also finalized their collective bargaining agreement. On September 21, 1995, this new collective bargaining agreement between the LIRR and the BLE became effective. Among other things, this agreement grants BLE members retroactive pay increases. At oral argument, the parties informed the Court that these increases will result in payments of, on average, between $ 6,000 and $ 7,000 in back pay for each of the plaintiffs in this action sometime within the month of November, 1995.
The day after the collective bargaining agreement became effective -- September 22, 1995 -- the LIRR informed the Union that the BLE members had not availed themselves of their final level of appeal and that it intended to impose the fines as a result.
From September 22, 1995 through October 2, 1995, the LIRR and the BLE negotiated over whether fines would be imposed. On October 2, 1995, these talks broke off. On October 4, 1995, the LIRR sent the BLE a sample letter it intended to distribute to Union members who had participated in the May 26 action.
The LIRR letter states that each BLE member involved in the "illegal concerted work stoppage" would be assessed a fine equivalent to five days pay for 158 members, eight days for two others. To collect this fine, the LIRR intends to deduct one day's pay from successive, bi-weekly paychecks beginning October 12, 1995 until the entire amount of the fine is deducted.
This dispute is governed by the Railway Labor Act (RLA), 45 U.S.C. §§ 151, et seq. (1995). The BLE claims that the LIRR's imposition of fines violates § 2 Seventh and § 6 of the RLA. 45 U.S.C. §§ 152 Seventh, 156 (1995).
Under § 2 Seventh of the RLA, a railroad may not "change the rates of pay, rules, or working conditions of its employees . . . except in the manner prescribed in section 156" of the RLA. 45 U.S.C. § 152 Seventh (1995). Section 156 (commonly referred to as § 6 of the RLA) dictates that a party wishing to change "rates of pay, rules, or working conditions" must provide the other side with at least thirty days written notice before instituting such a change. 45 U.S.C. § 156 (1995). If the ...