U. S. Bulk Carriers, Inc. v. Arguelles

PETITIONER: U. S. Bulk Carriers, Inc.
RESPONDENT: Arguelles
LOCATION: Mecklenburg County Superior Court

DOCKET NO.: 29
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1970-1971)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

CITATION: 400 US 351 (1971)
ARGUED: Nov 12, 1970
DECIDED: Jan 13, 1971

Facts of the case

Question

Media for U. S. Bulk Carriers, Inc. v. Arguelles

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 12, 1970 in U. S. Bulk Carriers, Inc. v. Arguelles

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments in number 29, U.S. Bulk Carriers against Arguelles.

Mr. Sullivan, I'm sure that you and your friend probably realize that if you want to get back to New York, one way to do it -- to New York and Baltimore respectively, one way to do it is to finish up this rapidly as you can.

George W. Sullivan:

We'll do our best Your Honor, Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

In this case, the petitioner a steamship operator has sought to review the decision of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, a divided decision which reversed the U.S. District Court in the City of Baltimore.

The case involves an essence whether the grievance and arbitration procedures in the collective-bargaining agreement was negotiated by the National Maritime Union with the steamship employer will be the basis upon which the disputes that have arisen and are referred to in this case will be resolved.

The initial cause of action as stated by the respondent in the District Court sought to recover firstly a transportation differential between first class and second class transportation.

That was resolved before the case ever got to its final posture in the District Court.

The next item in his claims involved certain overtime earnings that he said, he was entitled to, but had not been paid and these were disputed by the master of the vessel the time he signed of articles in the port of Saigon.

The third issue involves alleged penalties to which he refers as a source of entitlement 46 U.S.C.A. Section 596.

Now, to see this case more or less in the posture, I'd like to review briefly the facts.

Mr. Arguelles, American merchant seaman was engaged in the Court of Galveston, Texas on August 3, 1965, to service an ordinary seaman aboard the SS U.S. Pecos.

This is a merchant vessel.

It's not a naval vessel despite U.S. in the title.

He served aboard the vessel and at the time when the six months which was the period of the articles he signed has part of his engagement expired on February 3, 1966.

The vessel was entering an anchor -- anchorage off of Cap St. Jacques which is just off the coast of South Vietnam.

The vessel was destined to go to Saigon to discharge cargo which was in the ship.

The local authorities denied pratique -- they didn't deny pratique, they just didn't run it.

As a practical matter, the vessel couldn't go up the river to the port to discharge and everyone was required to stay on the vessel until pratique was granted.

This is a form of clearance to establish that the crew is healthy, meets the quarantine requirements and what have you.

On February 13th, pratique was granted and the vessel proceeded up the river to Saigon, a trip of some seven hours.

There up from the 15th cargo discharge was started.

And on the 17th, the respondent, in the company of 17 other men asked to be sign off articles.

They were referred to the U.S. Consul who was acting in that court in the capacity of shipping commissioner which is customarily inform ports when the seaman leave the ship.

The men were given a payroll voucher which outlined the earnings, the base wages and overtime.

This was certified by the consul and the men were given transportation to return to the United States, a dispute arose at that time.

The men wanted to be paid off in cash because of the situation in South Vietnam and the currency situation, U.S. currency was not given to the men.

They were allowed $50 to use for expenses incidental perhaps to travel home.

Because of the dispute that arose, the men respondent included Mr. Kline.

They left the next day and based on the testimony of the respondent in his pre-trial deposition, he arrived in Galveston on or about the 19th of February.

For reasons of his own convenience I assumed, he didn't report to the company agent until the 22nd of February when he was given cash as certified to in the voucher.