Glover v. St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Company

RESPONDENT: St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Company
LOCATION: Stanley's Home

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 393 US 324 (1969)
ARGUED: Nov 14, 1968
DECIDED: Jan 14, 1969

Facts of the case


Media for Glover v. St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 14, 1968 in Glover v. St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Company

Earl Warren:

Number 38, James G. Glover et al, petitioners, versus St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Co. et al.

Mr. Acker.

William M.acker, Jr.:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

The petitioners, Glover and others, were the plaintiffs below.

This case comes here purely and simply on the pleadings.

The plaintiffs were 14 railroad carmen helpers.

Their complaint in the District Court charged a cooperative scheme by the St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad Co. and their brotherhood, the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen, to perpetuate a long-existing racial discrimination in the area of seniority by the device of using what they call apprentices to do the traditional work of carmen helpers.

They use quite apprentices, so that the Negro carmen helpers will continue not to get promoted to the classification of carmen.

This device has caused a bottleneck in seniority which affects not only the Negro carmen helpers, but the White carmen helpers unfortunate enough to be behind them on the seniority roster.

The District Court dismissed the complaint on the ground that the plaintiffs had not alleged in exhaustion, one, of their remedy before the National Railroad Adjustment Board, two, their remedy within the Union itself and, three, their remedy provided by the collective bargaining agreement.

There were no specific allegations in the complaint as to the character of these two supposed contractual remedies or even if they existed, but the District Court nevertheless concluded that they both were, as he said, "available" and must be employed.

The Fifth Circuit affirmed and this Court has granted certiorari.

Let me say that some people don't like the concept of seniority as the criterion for job assignment and promotion.

I don't think it is for me to be for or against this concept.

It's just a fact of labor life, and racial discrimination in the application of this concept is where discrimination hurts the most.

It hurts the pocketbook, and I submit that to eliminate invidious discrimination in this area can lead ultimately to its elimination in other sectors of our national life.

While I was on the airplane coming up from Birmingham with the plane jumping up and down, I grab a hold on something to get my mind off of that and I picked up the "Look" magazine for this week.

I was surprised to see the first article in that magazine entitled "What Unions do to Blacks." As I turned through the pages, I was even more surprised to see a picture of one of my clients.

I mention this for two reasons.

One, I don't want the Court to think that I had anything to do with the preparation of or publication of this article just before this case is set for oral argument.

It was absolutely news to me.

Two, despite that disclaimer, there are a couple of things in this article that I'd like to read and that I think have particular bearing.

The sub-headline says "for nearly a century, most Unions have forced Negros into Jim Crow logos, giving them dirty jobs or refuse to admit them at all.

New laws and repeated Union promises are not stopping prejudice.

And then, down in the body, it says this.

"Union controlled apprenticeship programs," fits this one like a glove, "admit far less than token numbers of Negros," and then "Unions are doggedly battling civil rights complaints that are before the Courts and government agencies."

Despite landmark Court decisions in 1967 and 1968, the Union seemed determined to fight a rear guard holding action reminiscent of the one thought by southern school districts after the Supreme Court's 1954 school desegregation decision.

Now, if we may, let's see where the lower Court's reasoning in this case would lead these plaintiffs.

First, what about the internal Union complaint procedures?

The Trial Court said that such procedures were there so, for the sake of argument, we'll have to assume, I suppose, that they are there.