Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Independent Federation of Flight Attendants

PETITIONER: Trans World Airlines, Inc.
RESPONDENT: Independent Federation of Flight Attendants
LOCATION: City Council of Richmond

DOCKET NO.: 87-548
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

CITATION: 489 US 426 (1989)
ARGUED: Nov 07, 1988
DECIDED: Feb 28, 1989

ADVOCATES:
John P. Hurley - on behalf of the Respondent
Lawrence S. Robbins - as amicus curiae supporting Petitioner
Murray Gartner - on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Independent Federation of Flight Attendants

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 07, 1988 in Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Independent Federation of Flight Attendants

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 28, 1989 in Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Independent Federation of Flight Attendants

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the Court in number 87-548, TransWorld Airlines versus IFFA will be announced by Justice O'Connor.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

This case comes to us on certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit.

In May of 1986, a strike of TransWorld Airlines by its flight attendants, organized under the Independent Federation of Flight Attendants, ended up with the attendants' unconditional offer to return to work.

At the time of that offer, TWA had filled many of the vacancies created by the strike with newly hired personnel and with flight attendants who had either not gone out on strike or who had returned to work before the conclusion of the strike.

TWA refuse to displace any of these flight attendants to make room for more senior flight attendants who wanted to return to work once the strike had ended, and court litigation ensued.

The Court of Appeals held that TWA was required to displace those flight attendants who did not strike or who returned to work before the strike's conclusion in order to make room for more senior striking flight attendants.

We reverse that judgment in the opinion filed today, and thereby reinstate the decision of the District Court that neither newly hired flight attendants nor junior non-striking flight attendants need be displaced at the conclusion of the strike to permit more senior flight attendants to return to work.

Our decision, as explained in the opinion, rest on our understanding of the Railway Labor Act, the statute which governs labor management relations in the airline industry, and its close relative, the National Labor Relations Act.

We hold today that TWA's decision to replace senior striking employees with junior non-striking employees and its refusal to displace them at the conclusion of the strike was an exercise of TWA's peaceful economic power that it was legally free to deploy.

Once labor and management had exhausted the private dispute resolution mechanisms of the Railway Labor Act.

Justice Brennan has filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Marshall has joined.

Justice Blackmun has filed a dissenting opinion in parts one and two of which Justice Brennan has joined.