Labor Law-NRAB Awards in Work Assignment Disputes Are Unenforceable Unless the Board Has Considered the Interest of the Competing Union-Order of R.R. Telegraphers v. Union Pac. R.R.
The Order of Railroad Telegraphers filed a complaint with the National Railroad Adjustment Board (NRAB), alleging that the Union Pacific Railroad had violated its collective bargaining agreement with the union by assigning work covered by that agreement to members of the Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks. The Telegraphers sought damages in the form of back pay, but did not demand job reinstatement. Notice of the Telegrapher’s claim was served on the Clerks who declined to appear before the Board since they viewed the dispute as one which involved only an interpretation of the contract between the Telegraphers and the carrier. In addition, the Clerks stated that they would bring a separate action to the Board in the event that the proceedings resulted in the work being reassigned, thus indicating that they too claimed contractual rights to the disputed work. The Board sustained the Telegraphers’ claim and awarded damages for breach of contract as prayed. The Telegraphers then brought an enforcement action in a federal district court, which action was dismissed by the court on the ground that the Telegraphers had failed to join in the enforcement action an indispensable party-the Clerks. On appeal, held, affirmed. Although the Court of Appeals rejected the indispensable party rationale, it concluded that the Board’s award was unenforceable since the record of the NRAB proceeding was incomplete insofar as it did not indicate that the Board, in arriving at its award, had considered arguments relating to the Clerk’s claim to the contested work. The court also held in an opinion later withdrawn that the Clerks would have been bound by proceedings in which a complete record was compiled, provided they had been given due notice of the proceedings.