Conley v. Gibson

LOCATION: Philadelphia Board of Public Education

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

CITATION: 355 US 41 (1957)
ARGUED: Oct 21, 1957
DECIDED: Nov 18, 1957

Facts of the case


Media for Conley v. Gibson

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 21, 1957 in Conley v. Gibson

Earl Warren:

Number 7, J. D. Conley et al., Petitioners, versus Pat J. Gibson, General Chairman of Locals 6051 and 28 et al.

Mr. Waddy.

Joseph C. Waddy:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case is before the Court on writ of certiorari to the United States District Court for the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, affirming a judgment of United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, dismissing petitioners' complaint for lack of jurisdiction of the subject matter.

The case is one of the series that have been before this Court since 1940, early 1940s.

In an attempt on the -- on the part of Negro railroad workers to secure for themselves the benefits of collective bargaining and the fair representation to which they are entitled under the Railway Labor Act.

The courts below in dismissing petitioners' complaint for lack of jurisdiction of the subject matter have held in effect that the exclusive bargaining representative under the Railway Labor Act of a class or craft of employees is under no judicially enforceable duty to refrain from using its statutory position and power to discriminate on the account of race except in the making of a contract.

Felix Frankfurter:

Mr. Waddy, would it interfere with what you had planned to put before the Court if you told us at the outset exactly what the facts are in this case?

Joseph C. Waddy:

Well, that is this --

Felix Frankfurter:

I mean the human fact and what it means and what it doesn't mean before we get on to this -- to me still very difficult problem.

Joseph C. Waddy:

That is right.

Felix Frankfurter:

Could you do that?

Joseph C. Waddy:


As a matter of fact that is my next statement to the Court.

Felix Frankfurter:

I'm sorry.

Joseph C. Waddy:

I simply wanted the Court to know that within the -- this framework of reference that I have mentioned.

The effect of the court below in saying that there was no judicially enforceable duty.

And also, that the Court has held in effect that the statutory representative are in a dispute with the member of a craft or has no judicially enforceable duty and that -- that dispute must be carried to the National Railroad Adjustment Board.

Now, the facts are to which this case arises and as alleged in the complaint are as follows.

Petitioners are employees of the Texas and New Orleans Railroad working in the Freight House at Houston, Texas.

They are Negroes.

They are members of a craft or class of station employees, clerks, freight handlers, et cetera.

And that craft or class is represented by the Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks which is the respondent here.

The complaint alleges that the Brotherhood has used its statutory position and power under the Act to discriminate against them on a count of their race.

And they claim that the Brotherhood used the union shop amendment to the Railway Labor Act and made an agreement with the carrier requiring that as a condition of continued employment, all members of the craft including these petitioners must join the union.

They also charge that at Houston, Texas, respondent maintains two locals.

One of those locals is composed exclusively of Negroes.

That is Local 6051.

The other is composed of exclusively of white employees, all being members of the same craft or class.

They have alleged that the maintenance of these segregated local by the Brotherhood, as a part of a scheme, to deprive the Negroes of the benefits of collective bargaining and not permitting them to participate in the collective bargaining process.