The opinion of the court was delivered by: GOURLEY
This is an action on collective bargaining agreements negotiated and executed by the employees' representatives of The Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad Company with said Company. It presents for decision novel and important questions arising out of said contracts which were negotiated and executed in accordance with the provisions of the Railway Labor Act, June 7, 1934, c. 426, 48 Stat. 926, June 21, 1934, c. 691, Sec. 1, 48 Stat. 1185, June 25, 1936, c. 804, 49 Stat. 1921, Aug. 13, 1940, c. 664, Secs. 2, 3, 54 Stat. 785, 786, 45 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq.
The contracts or bargaining agreements which are involved in this proceeding were negotiated and executed on January 12, 1928 and November 17, 1936. The plaintiff employees were represented by the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen (BRT), and the Order of Railway Conductors (ORC) in the 1928 Contract, and the Order of Railway Conductors in the 1936 Contract.
Under the Railway Labor Act which sets up the procedure and method by which an employee of a carrier, who is aggrieved concerning his labor relations, may submit the grievance to the Railroad Adjustment Board, the remedy afforded is not exclusive and the employee may bring suit at law to settle a dispute without first submitting the controversy to the Board. 45 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq. There is nothing in the Act which purports to take away from the courts the jurisdiction to determine a controversy or to make an administrative finding of the Board a prerequisite to filing a suit in court. Kelly v. Nashville C. & St. L.R., D.C., 75 F.Supp. 737; Adams et al. v. New York C. & St. L.R. Co., 7 Cir., 121 F.2d 808, 810; Moore v. Illinois Cent. R. Co., 312 U.S. 630, 62 S. Ct. 754, 85 L. Ed. 1089; Beeler v. Chicago, R.I. & P. Ry. Co., 10 Cir., 169 F.2d 557; Union Pacific R. Co. v. Olive, 9 Cir., 156 F.2d 737.
The ultimate issues relate to:
(a) The interpretation and construction of the 1928 and 1936 Contracts.
(b) The authority of the collective bargaining representative (BRT) to compromise or settle accrued claims of the plaintiffs who --
(1) Were members of the collective bargaining representative and
(2) were not members of the collective bargaining representative.
The plaintiffs are 133 conductors (also known as yard foremen) and brakemen (also known as helpers) who are and for a long time have been employees of The Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad Company, defendant. They are called, generally in railroad parlance, 'trainmen.'
The major question involved relates to whether the plaintiffs were or were not entitled to extra pay from defendant at the rate of an additional day for each day in which the plaintiffs coupled air hose at points where air or car inspectors were available. The rights of action of the plaintiffs are based upon either, or both, of two certain written collective bargaining or employment contracts which contain the same provisions as to the basic claims of the plaintiffs.
(a) Claims of three of the plaintiffs are based exclusively upon a contract executed in 1936 by the defendant railroad with the Order of Railway Conductors, the certified bargaining agent of the conductors during the entire period covered by this suit.
(b) Claims of eighty-seven of the plaintiffs are based upon a contract made in 1928 by the defendant corporation with the Order of Railway Conductors and ...