Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Flight Attendants

PETITIONER: Trans World Airlines, Inc.
RESPONDENT: Flight Attendants
LOCATION: Drug rehabilitation clinic in Douglas County

DOCKET NO.: 86-1650
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

CITATION: 485 US 175 (1988)
ARGUED: Jan 12, 1988
DECIDED: Mar 02, 1988

Murray Gartner - on behalf of the Petitioner
Steven A. Fehr - on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Flight Attendants

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 12, 1988 in Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Flight Attendants

William H. Rehnquist:

We will hear argument now in Number 86-1650, Trans World Airlines v. Independent Federation of Flight Attendants.

Mr. Gartner, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Murray Gartner:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

This case involves union security provisions, which is another way of saying compulsory payment of union dues.

It is also here, as was the last case, on Petition for Certiorari to the Eighth Circuit.

For more than a year now, because of the decision of that Court, thousands of flight attendants employed by TWA have contributed more than $2.5 million to the treasury of the union, against their will, and under threat by TWA that if they did not do so, they would lose their jobs.

The Court below held that it would be a violation of the Railway Labor Act for TWA to do otherwise, because it said the union has an agreement with TWA pursuant to Section 211 of the Railway Labor Act, which requires TWA to make those threats and which requires those flight attendants to pay those dues.

The agreement to which the Court and the union point, however, was part of a contract effective by its terms only from August 1, 1981 to July 31, 1984.

From 1984 to 1986, TWA and the Respondent Union, which I will refer to as IFFA> ["], were engaged in negotiation and mediation under the auspices of the National Mediation Board, in an attempt to reach a successor agreement.

Those efforts were unsuccessful.

No successor agreement was made.

No successor agreement is in effect now.

Byron R. White:

Do I take it then that all issues have been bargained to impasse?

Murray Gartner:

All issues that were on the table in the sense that the entire agreement was on the table.

There were a great many issues.

Byron R. White:

There is no more bargaining going on?

Murray Gartner:

The only bargaining which is going on, Mr. Justice White, is in attempt to reach an agreement.

Whenever the union wants to resume negotiations--

Byron R. White:

But TWA does not challenge the fact that the union is still the collective bargaining agent for its employees?

Murray Gartner:

--No, it does not challenge it, because under the statute, really, it has no right to challenge it.

There is no procedure under the Railway Labor Act which would allow TWA to initiate a decertification process.

Byron R. White:

So what does the company have to do?

Just refuse to bargain and then be found guilty of an unfair labor practice?

Murray Gartner:

As Your Honor knows, there is no Unfair Labor Practice under the Railway Labor Act.

Byron R. White:


Murray Gartner:

But the equivalent.

There really isn't a good answer to that question, Justice White, because there is no comparable procedure under the Railway Labor Act, as there is under the NLRA.

Byron R. White:

So once a bargaining agent is certified, that is the end of it, that is forever.

Is that it?

Murray Gartner:

That is almost true.