Railway Clerks v. United Air Lines, Inc.

PETITIONER: Railway Clerks
RESPONDENT: United Air Lines, Inc.
LOCATION: United States Post Office and Courthouse

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 379 US 26 (1964)
ARGUED: Oct 22, 1964
DECIDED: Nov 09, 1964

Facts of the case


Media for Railway Clerks v. United Air Lines, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 22, 1964 in Railway Clerks v. United Air Lines, Inc.

Earl Warren:

Number 31, Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and Station Employees, Petitioner versus United Airlines, Incorporated.

Mr. Highsaw.

James L. Highsaw, Jr.:

Mr. Chief Justice, my name is a very unusual one and I think just looking at in French you wouldn't get out of pronouncing.

My family has always pronounced it Highsaw.

Earl Warren:

High --

James L. Highsaw, Jr.:


Earl Warren:


James L. Highsaw, Jr.:

Highsaw, emphasis on the H-I.

Earl Warren:

Well it -- when it spelt that way, I should have pronounced it that way.

James L. Highsaw, Jr.:

The basic question presented to the Court by this case is one of jurisdiction.

The issue is what forum, if any, has jurisdiction to determine whether a collective bargaining agreement between the Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks and Capital Airlines terminated from the merger of Capital into United Airlines on June 1, 1961 are whether that agreement survive the merger and can be enforced as an obligation against United Airlines.

The decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit which is under review in this case and the positions of the parties as presented to the Court, four different answers to this basic question.

The Brotherhood has taken the position that jurisdiction lies in the federal courts on a suit by the Brotherhood to enforce this agreement against United Airlines.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit took the position that the federal courts do not have jurisdiction, that exclusive jurisdiction rested in the National Mediation Board because it's said that the dispute involved a matter of representation and a representation dispute over which that board had exclusive jurisdiction under Section 2, Ninth, of the Railway Labor Act.

United agrees for that position but United goes further.

United says that the dispute isn't justiciable at all and it also says that if it is justiciable at all, it should have been litigated in a petition before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the order of the Civil Aeronautics Board which approved the merger.

Finally, the United States' amicus curiae on behalf of the National Mediation Board, says that the National Mediation Board does not have jurisdiction over this dispute that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that there was a representation dispute involved there over which the Mediation Board had jurisdiction, that the federal courts do have jurisdiction entertained the Brotherhood's complaint but only to enforce the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement which provide for a Board of Adjustment and a grievance procedure to hear grievances of employees arising out of the agreement and that the ultimate jurisdiction to determine how much of the agreement survives, rests in this adjustment board.

At this time, I will to address myself to the position of the Brotherhood and of the United decision of the Court of Appeals and I will address myself on rebuttal to the position of the United States after the Solicitor General has given his argument.

I think that in order to carefully understand the issues, it would be in order to very briefly in review some of the relevant facts.

In 1947, the Brotherhood became a duly authorized representative on the property of United -- on the property of Capital it is, on certain of the employees of Capital, the office, the clerical, the stores and the passenger service employees.

Thereafter, it negotiated the collective bargaining agreement with Capital that under the Railway Labor Act, covering the rates of pay, the rules and working conditions of these employees.

In 1959, it entered into negotiation with Capital to revise that agreement.

There was already in the win -- the prospects of a merger by Capital.

There had already been one aborted merger agreement entered into which had not been finally processed before the Board.

So, the Brotherhood bargained for and it obtained in this collective bargaining agreement in 1959 a provision to the effect that all provisions of the agreement should be binding upon successors and assign of the Capital.

Potter Stewart:

Did that provision put them in the collective bargaining agreement for the first time in 1959?

James L. Highsaw, Jr.:

That's right Your Honor.

It has not been there before.

And that was put in there because of the situation which based Capital and because of the fact that Capital indicated that its financial condition was such that it might have merged (Voice Overlap) --

Potter Stewart:

And is there anything in the record that shows that?