Landers v. NRPC
Annotate this Case
485 U.S. 652 (1988)
U.S. Supreme Court
Landers v. NRPC, 485 U.S. 652 (1988)
Landers v. National Railroad Passenger Corporation
Argued March 29, 1988
Decided April 27, 1988
485 U.S. 652
Petitioner, a passenger engineer employed by respondent railroad corporation (Amtrak), belongs to the United Transportation Union (UTU) rather than to respondent Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE), the union that represents Amtrak engineers for collective bargaining purposes. Petitioner's request that the UTU be allowed to represent him at a company-level disciplinary hearing was denied on the ground that, under the BLE-Amtrak collective bargaining agreement, only the BLE could undertake such representation. Petitioner represented himself at the hearing and received a 30-day suspension for violating company work rules, which he did not appeal to the National Railroad Adjustment Board. He then filed suit in Federal District Court seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against Amtrak and the BLE on the ground that their refusal to allow his representation by the UTU at the hearing violated his rights under the Railway Labor Act (RLA). The court dismissed the complaint after a bench trial, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.
Held: The RLA does not entitle a railroad employee to be represented at company-level grievance or disciplinary proceedings by a union other than his collective bargaining representative. Petitioner's contention that a right to such representation is implicit in § 2, Eleventh (c), of the RLA, which permits a union-shop requirement to be satisfied by membership in any national union organized in accordance with the Act, is without merit, since that provision was enacted for the single, narrow purpose of preventing compulsory dual unionism or the necessity of an employee's changing unions upon a change in crafts, Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Rychlik, 352 U. S. 480, which purpose has been satisfied here, since petitioner has not been required to join the BLE. Nor does any other RLA provision expressly address the question of minority union representation at company-level proceedings; in fact, § 3, First (i), provides merely that such proceedings shall be handled in "the usual manner." That Congress, in § 3, First (j), expressly allowed employees the representative of their choice at the Adjustment Board level, but did not do so with regard to the earlier, company-level phase, is persuasive evidence that Congress did not believe that minority union participation at
the company level was necessary to accomplish the RLA's purposes. Petitioner will not suffer appreciable prejudice because of the UTU's inability to represent him at proceedings conducted on company property, since it may be assumed that he will be adequately protected under the BLE's duty of fair representation, and since the UTU may represent him before the Adjustment Board if the company proceedings do not resolve the dispute. Pp. 485 U. S. 655-659.
814 F.2d 41, affirmed.
WHITE, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.