Texas & New Orleans R. Co. v. Brotherhood of Ry. Clerks - 281 U.S. 548 (1930)
U.S. Supreme Court
Texas & New Orleans R. Co. v. Brotherhood of Ry. Clerks, 281 U.S. 548 (1930)
Texas & New Orleans Railroad Company v.
Brotherhood of Railway & Steamship Clerks
Argued May 1, 2, 1930
Decided May 26, 1930
281 U.S. 548
1. This Court accepts findings of fact in which the two lower federal courts concur unless clear error is shown. P. 281 U. S. 558.
2. Evidence in this case supports the conclusion of the courts below that the defendant Railroad Company and its officers were actually
engaged in promoting the organization of an association of its clerical employees in the interest of the Company and in opposition to the plaintiff labor organization, and that these activities constituted an actual interference with the liberty of the clerical employees in the selection of representatives for the purposes set forth in the Railway Labor Act of May 20, 1926. P. 281 U. S. 559.
3. A statute ought to be so construed that, if it can be prevented, no clause shall be treated as superfluous, or insignificant, or intended to be without effect. P. 281 U. S. 568.
4. While an affirmative declaration of duty contained in a legislative enactment may be of imperfect obligation because not enforceable in terms, a definite statutory prohibition of conduct which would thwart the declared purpose of the legislation cannot be disregarded. Id.
5. The Railway Labor Act of 1926, while elaborating a plan for amicable adjustments and voluntary arbitration of disputes between common carriers and their employees, imposed certain definite obligations enforceable by judicial proceedings, one of which is found in the provision of subdivision 3 of § 2, that
"Representatives, for the purposes of this Act, shall be designated by the respective parties . . . without interference, influence, or coercion exercised by either party over the self-organization or designation of representatives by the other."
P. 281 U. S. 567.
6. The word " influence," as used in this provision, is not to be taken as interdicting the normal relations and innocent communications which are part of all friendly relations between employer and employee; it means pressure -- the use of the authority or power of either party to induce action by the other in derogation of what the statute calls "self-organization." P. 281 U. S. 568.
7. The phrase "interference, influence or coercion" covers the abuse of relation or opportunity so as to corrupt or override the will. Id.
8. Freedom of choice in the selection of representatives on each side of the dispute is essential to the statutory scheme. All the proceedings looking to amicable adjustments and to agreements for arbitration of disputes -- the entire policy of the Act -- must depend for success on the uncoerced action of each party to the end that agreements satisfactory to both may be reached and the peace essential to the uninterrupted service of the instrumentalities of interstate commerce may be maintained. Id.
9. As the prohibition was appropriate to the aim of Congress and is capable of enforcement, the conclusion must be that enforcement was contemplated. P. 281 U. S. 569.
10. The creation of an enforceable statutory right is not dependent on the existence of a statutory penalty for its violation. P. 281 U. S. 569.
11. As applied against interference by an interstate railroad company with the lawful right of its employees to organize and select representatives for the purposes of the Act, the prohibition of § 2, supra, is within the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce. P. 281 U. S. 570.
12. Since the prohibition does not interfere with the normal exercise of the right of the carrier to select its employees or to discharge them, and since the carrier has no right to interfere with the freedom of the employees to select their representatives, there is no ground for the carrier to complain that the prohibition violates the Fifth Amendment. Adair v. United States, 201 U. S. 161; Coppage v. Kansas, 236 U. S. 1, distinguished. Id.
13. The interest of employees in the selection of representatives to confer with their employer about contracts of service is a property interest sufficient to satisfy § 20 of the Clayton Act, which provides that no injunction shall be granted in any case growing out of a dispute concerning terms or conditions of employment unless necessary to prevent irreparable injury to property or to a property right. P. 281 U. S. 571.
14. Quaere: whether § 20 of the Clayton Act limits the authority of the court to restrain the violation of an explicit provision of an Act of Congress where an injunction would otherwise be the proper remedy. Id.
33 F.2d 13 affirmed.
Certiorari, 280 U.S. 550, to review a decree of the circuit court of appeals which affirmed a decree of the district court permanently enjoining the Railroad Company and other defendants from interfering with, influencing, intimidating, or coercing certain employees with respect to their right to select representatives for the purpose of considering and deciding all disputes between them and the company, and with respect to their right of "self-organization." There was also a preliminary injunction and a contempt order resulting from its violation. See 24 F.2d 426; 25 id. 873, 876.