California v. Taylor

PETITIONER: California
LOCATION: Congress

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 353 US 553 (1957)
ARGUED: Apr 02, 1957
DECIDED: Jun 03, 1957

Facts of the case


Media for California v. Taylor

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 02, 1957 in California v. Taylor

Earl Warren:

Number 385, State of California, Petitioner, versus Harry Taylor et al.

Mr. Wenig, you may proceed.

Herbert E. Wenig:

May it please the Court.

This case involves a little switching railroad at the Harbor of San Francisco.

The railroad is one the facilities of San Francisco Harbor.

San Francisco Harbor is operated by the State of California to facilitate the national and international trade of the port.

The Harbor Board is appointed by the Governor.

The employees of the State Belt Railroad since 1913 have been members of the state civil service.

Our state constitution requires that all employees of the State with certain minor exceptions shall be members of the California State civil service system.

In 1942, a demand was made upon the Harbor Board that it enter into a collective bargaining contract pursuant to the Railway Labor Act fixing wages, hours, and terms of employment for the employees of the State Belt.

There is no -- it is admitted here that the State Belt Railroad is engaged in interstate commerce as well as settled by United States against California.

The successor, a -- a contract was entered into effective September 1, 1942.

A successor of Harbor Board questioned the authority of the -- the previous Board to enter into this contract and requested the Attorney General to bring a declaratory relief action in the California courts to determine the validity of the contract and whether California was subject to the Railway Labor Act.

The California Supreme Court held that the general language of the Railway Labor Act was not to be interpreted as being applicable to the State of California.

Thereupon, the respondents here, who were members of the State Belt employees and who had filed claims before the Adjustment Board under this contract, brought an action to require the Adjustment Board to proceed to hear and determine the claims which had been filed under the 1942 contract.

The reason this arose was that -- following the decision of the California Supreme Court, the carrier members of the Board had refused to proceed with the cases on the ground that the matter had been settled by the decision of the California Supreme Court.California intervened in this mandamus action and filed a motion for summary judgment.

The District Court granted our judgment on the ground, the California decision was determinative.

However, the Seventh Circuit reversed and held contrary to the decision of the California Supreme Court that the Railway Labor Act was applicable to a State in its operation of a carrier in interstate commerce.

Now, the essential problem we have here is whether the Railway Labor Act is applicable to the State of California.

The Act, if Your Honors please, covers a carrier by Railroad subject to the Interstate Commerce Act.

And the Interstate Commerce Act in turn applies to all carriers engaged in the transportation of passages and property holding by railroad.

In other words, the Railway Labor Act compendiously adopts the determination of what is to be considered as interstate railroad commerce.

The Act requires all carriers as employers to engage in collective bargaining with representatives chosen for each craft on its property.

Duties are imposed with respect to the selection of representatives.

The duty to collectively bargain may be enforced by injunction as this Court decided in the Virginian Railroad case.

All disputes, and this is how we arrive in Chicago, all disputes under the Act, regarding the interpretation of contracts may be taken by either party to the National Railroad Adjustment Board and -- and a money award made to an employee may be enforced on -- by the specific terms of the Act by suit against the employer in one of the federal district courts.

So, we are faced essentially, Your Honors, with determining if Congress in using the general language of the Act, all carriers subject to the Interstate Commerce Act by that general language intended to control a State's relationship with its employees when that State is engaged in conducting a carrier engaged in interstate commerce.

In other words, must our civil service laws give way to the -- to the collective bargaining provisions of the Railway Labor Act.

The history of the Act shows that Congress gave no consideration to the fact that there might be here and there, a -- a carrier owned by a State, such as our switching railroad, engaged in interstate commerce.

As this Court has pointed out, the Act was the result of a -- of a conference, a industry wide conference composed of some 55 railroads and 20 labor unions which produced this, as we have to call it, this instrument for Government in their -- in the railroad industry, to Congress and it was so adopted.