Steele v. Louisville & N. R. Co.
323 U.S. 192 (1944)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Steele v. Louisville & N. R. Co., 323 U.S. 192 (1944)

Steele v. Louisville & Nashville Railroad Co.

No. 45

Argued November 14, 15, 1944

Decided December 18, 1944

323 U.S. 192

Syllabus

1. The Railway Labor Act imposes on a labor organization, acting by authority of the statute as the exclusive bargaining representative of a craft or class of railway employees, the duty to represent all the employees in the craft without discrimination because of their race, and the courts have jurisdiction to protect the minority of the craft or class from the violation of such obligation. P. 323 U. S. 199.

2. The Railway Labor Act imposes on the statutory representative of a craft at least as exacting a duty to protect equally the interests of a member of the craft as the Constitution imposes upon a legislature to give equal protection to the interests of those for whom it legislates. The Act confers on the bargaining representative powers comparable to those possessed by a legislative body both to create and restrict the rights of those whom it represents, but it also imposes on the representative a corresponding duty. P. 323 U. S. 202.

3. So long as a labor union assumes to act as the statutory representative of a craft, it cannot rightly refuse to perform the duty, which is inseparable from the power of representation conferred upon it, to represent the entire membership of the craft. While the statute does not deny to such a bargaining labor organization the right to determine eligibility to its membership, it does require the union, in collective bargaining and in making contracts with the carrier, to represent nonunion or minority union members of the craft without hostile discrimination, fairly, impartially, and in good faith. Wherever necessary to that end, the union is required to consider requests of nonunion members of the craft and expressions of their views with respect to collective bargaining with the employer and to give to them notice of and opportunity for hearing upon its proposed action. P. 323 U. S. 204.

4. The right asserted by the petitioner, to a remedy for breach of the statutory duty of the bargaining representative to represent and act for the members of a craft without discrimination against Negroes solely because of their race, is claimed under the Constitution and a statute of the United States; and the adverse decision of the highest court of the State is reviewable here under § 237(b) of the Judicial Code. P. 323 U. S. 204.

Page 323 U. S. 193

5. The petitioner here has no available administrative remedy under the Railway Labor Act, and the bill of complaint states a cause of action entitling him to relief. P. 323 U. S. 205.

6. The Railway Labor Act contemplates resort to the usual judicial remedies of injunction and award of damages when appropriate for breach of the duty imposed by the statute on a union representative of a craft to represent the interests of all its members. P. 323 U. S. 207.

245 Ala. 113,16 So. 2d 416, reversed.

Certiorari, 322 U.S. 722, to review the affirmance of a judgment sustaining a demurrer to a complaint asserting a federal right.

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