Railroad Trainmen v. Howard,
343 U.S. 768 (1952)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Railroad Trainmen v. Howard, 343 U.S. 768 (1952)

Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. Howard

No. 458

Argued April 22, 1952

Decided June 9, 1952

343 U.S. 768


Petitioner union is an exclusively white union which acts under the Railway Labor Act as bargaining representative for railroad trainmen. By threat of a strike, it forced petitioner railroad to agree not to permit Negro "train porters" to perform any of the duties of brakemen. As a result, the railroad took steps to discharge Negro "train porters" and replace them with white brakemen. Respondent, a member of a group of Negro "train porters" who for many years had satisfactorily performed the duties of brakemen and had their own separate union as their bargaining representative, brought a class suit in a Federal District Court for a judgment declaring the agreement void and enjoining the railroad from carrying it out.


1. The Railway Labor Act prohibits bargaining agents who enjoy the advantages of its provisions from using their position and power to destroy Negro workers' jobs in order to bestow them on white workers. Steele v. Louisville & N. R. Co., 323 U. S. 192. Pp. 343 U. S. 769-774.

2. The District Court has the jurisdiction and power to issue the injunction necessary to protect these Negro workers from the racial discrimination practiced against them. Pp. 343 U. S. 774-775.

(a) Since this dispute involves the validity of a contract, not its meaning, it cannot be resolved by interpretation of a bargaining agreement so as to give exclusive jurisdiction to the Railway Adjustment Board under Slocum v. Delaware, L. & W. R. Co., 339 U. S. 239. P. 343 U. S. 774.

(b) Nor does this dispute hinge on the proper craft classification of the "train porters" so as to call for settlement by the National Mediation Board under Switchmen's Union v. National Mediation Board, 320 U. S. 297. P. 343 U. S. 774.

(c) Nor is the issuance of an injunction in this case prohibited by the Norris-Lacuardia Act. Steele v. Louisville & N. R. Co., 323 U. S. 192; Graham v. Brotherhood of Firemen, 338 U. S. 232. P. 343 U. S. 774.

Page 343 U. S. 769

3. On remand, the District Court should permanently enjoin the petitioner union and railroad from use of the contract or any other similar discriminatory bargaining device to oust the Negro "train porters" from their jobs. P. 343 U. S. 775.

191 F.2d 442 affirmed.

In a suit to enjoin enforcement of a bargaining agreement between a railroad and a trainmen's union on the ground that it discriminated against Negro "train porters," the District Court denied most of the relief prayed for on the ground that the National Mediation Board and the National Railroad Adjustment Board had exclusive jurisdiction of the dispute under the Railway Labor Act. 72 F.Supp. 695. The Court of Appeals reversed this holding. 191 F.2d 442. This Court granted certiorari. 342 U.S. 940. Affirmed and remanded to the District Court, p. 343 U. S. 775.

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