Order of Railroad Telegraphers v. Chicago & North Western Railway Company

PETITIONER: Order of Railroad Telegraphers
RESPONDENT: Chicago & North Western Railway Company
LOCATION: Fleetwood Paving Co.

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 362 US 330 (1960)
ARGUED: Mar 01, 1960 / Mar 02, 1960
DECIDED: Apr 18, 1960

Facts of the case


Media for Order of Railroad Telegraphers v. Chicago & North Western Railway Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 02, 1960 in Order of Railroad Telegraphers v. Chicago & North Western Railway Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 01, 1960 in Order of Railroad Telegraphers v. Chicago & North Western Railway Company

Earl Warren:

Number 100, the Order of Railroad Telegraphers et al, Petitioners versus Chicago and North Western Railway Company.

Mr. Schoene.

Lester P. Schoene:

If the Court please, this case is here as a result of this Court's order of October the 12th, 1959, granting a petition for a writ certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

That judgment reversed the judgment of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, which had denied a permanent injunction against a strike and have dismissed the complaint.

The attempted strike arose out of a union's proposal under the Railway Labor Act to amend the existing agreements to include a rule, providing that no position in existence on December 3rd, 1957, will be abolished or discontinued except by agreement between the carrier and the organization.

The opinion of the court below, goes into considerable discussion of the facts which we believe to be largely irrelevant and I think its holding can be readily summarized by a few quotations, beginning on page 382 of the record where the Court of Appeals' opinion appears, it actually begins a few pages earlier than that on page 377 of the record.

With respect to the proposal that I have quoted, the Court of Appeals said on page 382, “Certainly, the Railway Labor Act does not divest a carrier of the right to manage and control the administrative functions of its business enterprise and conduct its business operations without exercise of a veto power by the union.”

Here, the union is demanding such veto power over the abolition of any position in existence on December 3rd, 1957.

The union is attempting to obtain through the collective bargaining processes through Railway Labor Act that which would prohibit North Western from complying with the orders of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission and the Iowa State Commerce Commission.

In short, this is an attempt by the union to erogate to itself the prerogatives that have been traditionally and rightfully managements while at the same time assuming none of the corresponding burdens and responsibilities.

Then turning to page 384, near the bottom of the page, the Court in further substantiation of that holding sirs, we see no material difference between the Howard case and the case before us, the reference to the Howard case is of course to the decision of this Court in Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen against Howard at 343 U.S. 768.

And then on page 385 of the record, the Court says, “We therefore hold that such a demand thus here made by the union is completely outside the ambit of rates of pay rules and working conditions as those words are used in the Railway Labor Act and cites the North Shore case and hence, is not within the scope of mandatory bargaining.

Therefore, the terms of the Norris-LaGuardia Act are here inapplicable.

In further support, the Court relied on this Court's decision last term in the Borg-Warner case.

Now the – with this holding, the Court disposed off a number of issues that were not specifically considered.

As you will note from reference to the petitioner's brief, pages 14 to 15, there are a considerable variety of issues embraced in this case, all of which are disposed out by the Court's determination that a permanent injunction against the strike should have been issued by the District Court.

Now, in the course of the development of this case, there have been so many instances in which by taking facts out of context.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Did you raise the jurisdictional question on the diversity issue below?

Lester P. Schoene:

No we did not, but the basic jurisdictional question is raised here for the first time.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

May we hear you on it?

Lester P. Schoene:

Yes, I would --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

I mean, are you entitled to be heard?

Lester P. Schoene:

I beg your pardon?

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Are you entitled to be heard on it?

Lester P. Schoene:

Yes, I think so.

I think the question of jurisdiction might arise at any time.

Felix Frankfurter:

What if -- would you mind stating what you deem the basic jurisdictional question?

Lester P. Schoene:

Yes, the -- the jurisdiction on the Court would've -- of the District Court was invoked on the theory that rights were being claimed under the Constitution and laws of the United States.

At the time that the complaint was filed, at least the part of the complaint seemed to have similarities to Chicago River -- Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen against the Chicago River Railroad and it seemed at point to present his sufficient claim of federal right.

There was never any jurisdictional claim on any other head of jurisdiction, but as the case has proceeded the nature of the federal right claim has seemed to us to become more and more vague until we felt compelled to bring to the attention of this Court that in the present posture of the case, there appears to be a basic lack of federal jurisdiction.