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FAGAN v. PENNSYLVANIA R.R. CO.

May 15, 1959

Herbert J. FAGAN, et al. on their own behalf and on the behalf of all other persons similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD COMPANY and Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and Station Employees, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: FOLLMER

This is an action brought by 157 members of Harrisburg local lodge, Square Deal Lodge No. 421 (hereinafter called 'Local Lodge') of the Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and Station Employees (hereinafter called 'Brotherhood'), and the Pennsylvania Railroad Company (hereinafter called 'Railroad'), seeking to set aside a seniority agreement which, it is alleged, was entered into between the defendants and their agents in arbitrary, capricious and discriminatory impairment of the seniority and other property rights of the plaintiffs, and in violation of the established law, policy and resolution of the Brotherhood as established at its National Conventions. The complaint further prays for job restoration, wage indemnification and injunctive relief.

The matter is presently before the Court on

 1. Motion of Railroad for judgment on the pleadings, on the grounds that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

 2. Motion of Brotherhood to dismiss the complaint or in the alternative for summary judgment for the following reasons:

 (a) complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted;

 (b) no dispute between the parties as to any material issue of fact, but only as to the legal conclusions to be drawn from the facts;

 (c) plaintiffs have failed to exhaust contractual remedies.

 From the pleadings, supporting affidavit, arguments and briefs, the facts on which the parties are in substantial agreement are as follows:

 The Brotherhood is the duly authorized representative under the Railway Labor Act to negotiate agreements with the Railroad on behalf of plaintiffs and other carrier employees.

 On and prior to October 28, 1955, by written agreement between the Railroad and the Brotherhood, and within the geographical precincts concerned in this action, there were the three following seniority structures: (1) The Philadelphia Terminal Division (comprised of the Railroad's employees engaged in the City of Philadelphia, and immediate environs); (2) The Atlantic Division (embracing Railroad's employees engaged in precincts adjoining the City of Philadelphia and its immediate environs); and (3) The Philadelphia Division (consisting of the Railroad's employees working in the Harrisburg area). Each of the three seniority districts had a separate seniority roster.

 On November 1, 1955, the Railroad placed in effect an extensive reorganization plan abolishing certain regions and establishing in their place certain operating regions. Concurrently with this reorganization Railroad and Brotherhood entered into an agreement dated October 28, 1955, effective November 1, 1955, which affected the seniority rights of the employees represented by the Brotherhood, by changing the seniority districts to conform to the new organization of the Railroad. This agreement, inter alia, merged The Philadelphia Terminal Division and The Philadelphia Division into a single and consolidated seniority district known as Philadelphia Region Seniority District; the former Atlantic Division was renamed the Atlantic District of the Philadelphia Region and remained a separate seniority district. Under the new agreement the roster of employees represented by the Brotherhood in the former Philadelphia and Philadelphia Terminal Seniority districts were merged or 'dovetailed' and the seniority dates of employees in the new seniority district were the earliest dates held by them on any roster in the territory included in the new seniority district. The effect was that although prior to November 1, 1955, employees, including plaintiffs, on the seniority roster of the Philadelphia Division could exercise seniority only to positions on that Division and employees on the roster of the Philadelphia Terminal Division could exercise seniority only to positions on that Division, on and after November 1, 1955, all such employees could exercise seniority to positions in the combined territory of the new Philadelphia Region Seniority District. Immediately prior to November 1, 1955, there were a total of 3791 positions of employees in this territory, 1120 in the Philadelphia Division Seniority District and 2671 in the Philadelphia Terminal Seniority District.

 Plaintiffs contend that the merging or 'dovetailing' of the seniority lists of the former Philadelphia and Philadelphia Terminal seniority districts has unlawfully impaired and prejudiced their seniority and other rights flowing from the positions formerly held by them on the Philadelphia Division seniority district roster.

 It is furthermore plaintiffs' contention that the agreement of October 28, 1955, between Railroad and Brotherhood is unlawful for the following reasons:

 1. Brotherhood and Railroad entered into the agreement without consultation with, notice to or advice of Square Deal Lodge No. 421, its members or the plaintiff employee-members.

 2. Defendants' conduct violated custom, precedent and tradition in such matters.

 3. The agreement and action and conduct of Brotherhood violated the established law, policy and resolutions of Brotherhood of which both defendants were aware.

 4. Defendants' action was arbitrary and capricious and discriminated against plaintiffs and other employees in the former Philadelphia Division.

 5. The agreement violated the provisions of the Railway Labor Act.

 6. The agreement will affect the relationship of Railroad with its employees and the performance by Railroad of its duties under the law, and will have an immediate direct and serious impact upon interstate commerce.

 Finally, plaintiffs allege that they have registered protest within the Brotherhood on the revised agreement and have been unable to exhaust the internal remedies provided under the Brotherhood Constitution and governing laws because the Grand President of the Brotherhood has failed to render a decision on their protest, thereby rendering impossible further appeal to the executive council of the organization as permitted by the Constitution, hence this suit.

 As above indicated, Brotherhood moved to dismiss the complaint or in the alternative for summary judgment. Attached to the motion and made a part thereof were the following:

 1. Affidavit of George M. Harrison, Grand President of Brotherhood, and attachments.

 (a) Constitution of Grand Ladge of Brotherhood, Statutes for Government of Lodges of Brotherhood and Protective Laws of Brotherhood.

 (b) Correspondence between George M. Harrison and plaintiffs.

 2. Affidavit of S.V.W. Loehr, General Chairman, Pennsylvania Railroad System Board of Adjustment of ...


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