Railway Clerks v. Allen
373 U.S. 113 (1963)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Railway Clerks v. Allen, 373 U.S. 113 (1963)

Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers,

Express and Station Employees v. Allen

No. 316

Argued March 25, 1963

Decided May 13, 1963

373 U.S. 113

Syllabus

A group of nonunion railroad employees sued in a North Carolina State Court to enjoin enforcement of a union shop agreement entered into between a railroad and several unions representing their employees under § 2 Eleventh, of the Railway Labor Act, which required all employees to pay uniformly exacted union initiation fees, assessments, and dues, in order to keep their jobs. The complaint alleged that sums exacted under the agreement "have been and are and will be regularly and continually used" to finance political activities "directly at cross-purposes with the free will and choice of the plaintiffs." A jury made separate findings that moneys exacted under the agreement were used by the unions for purposes not reasonably necessary or related to collective bargaining, including certain political activities. The trial court enjoined the unions

"from placing any compulsion of any nature upon the [plaintiffs] . . . whereby they . . . against their free will and choice would be required to join the Defendant Unions . . . or pay money to said Unions,"

provided, however, that, upon a showing by the unions of the proportion of expenditures from exacted funds that was reasonably necessary and related to collective bargaining, the injunction would be modified appropriately. The State Supreme Court affirmed by an equally divided vote.

Held: the judgment is reversed and the cause is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion. Pp. 373 U. S. 115-124.

1. The allegation of the complaint that sums exacted under the agreement "have been and are and will be regularly and continually used by the defendant Unions to carry on, finance and pay for political activities directly at cross-purposes with the free will and choice of the plaintiffs" sufficiently stated a cause of action. Pp. 373 U. S. 118-119.

(a) Section 2 Eleventh denies the unions the power, over an employee's objection, to use his exacted funds to support political activities which he opposes. International Assn. of Machinists v. Street,367 U. S. 740. P. 373 U. S. 118.

Page 373 U. S. 114

(b) It would be impracticable to require a dissenting employee to allege and prove each distinct union political expenditure to which he objects; it is enough that he manifests his objection to any political expenditures by the union. P. 373 U. S. 118.

(c) However, dissent is not to be presumed, but must be made known to the union by each dissenting employee; this is not a class action, and no plaintiff who does not, in the course of the further proceedings in this case, prove that he objects to such use will be entitled to relief. Pp. 373 U. S. 118-119.

2. The trial court's injunction relieving the plaintiffs of all obligation to pay the moneys due under the agreement was improper, even though it was subject to modification if the unions came forward and proved the proportion of exacted funds required for purposes germane to collective bargaining. Pp. 373 U. S. 119-120.

(a) Such a remedy is too broad, and might interfere with the performance by the unions of those functions and duties which the Railway Labor Act places upon them to attain its goal of stability in the industry. P. 373 U. S. 120.

(b) On remand, the plaintiffs should be given a reasonable time in which to pay to the appropriate union all sums required under the agreement, including arrears, that are owing; and the action must be dismissed as to any plaintiff failing to do this. P. 373 U. S. 120.

3. Among the permissible remedies for dissenting employees are an injunction against expenditure for political causes opposed by each complaining employee of a sum, from those moneys to be spent by the union for political purposes, which is so much of the moneys exacted from the employee as is the proportion of the union's total expenditures made for such political activities to the union's total budget, and restitution of such a sum already exacted from the employees and expended by the union over his objection. In order to frame such a decree on remand, it will be necessary to make determinations as to (1) what expenditures disclosed by the record are political, and what percentage of total union expenditures are political expenditures; and the unions, not the individual employees, must bear the burden of proving such proportion. Pp. 373 U. S. 120-122.

4. A practical decree to which each plaintiff proving his right to relief would be entitled would order (1) the refund to him of a portion of the exacted funds in the same proportion that union

Page 373 U. S. 115

political expenditures bear to total union expenditures, and (2) a reduction of future such exactions from him by the same proportion. Pp. 373 U. S. 122-124.

256 N.C. 700, 124 S.E.2d 871, reversed, and cause remanded.

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