UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD CO. v. BROTHERHOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
08-604
Petitioner 
Union Pacific Railroad Company
Respondent 
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen General Committee of Adjustment, Central Region
Advocates
(argued the cause for the petitioner)
(argued the cause for the respondent)
Term:
Facts of the Case 

The plaintiffs, employees of the Union Pacific Railroad (UPR), filed claims through their union, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), contesting their discharge or discipline imposed by the UPR. The National Railroad Adjustment Board (NRAB) dismissed the claims for lack of jurisdiction reasoning that the BLET failed to submit conclusive evidence that the aggrieved parties had held a conference with the UPR to attempt to resolve the disputes – a prerequisite to arbitration – though conferences were in fact held. The plaintiffs appealed to a federal district where the dismissal was affirmed.

On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed, holding that the NRAB denied the plaintiffs due process by requiring evidence of conferencing on the record as a prerequisite to arbitration. The court reasoned that this requirement was not clearly established in the statutes, regulations, or collective bargaining agreement and therefore the NRAB had created a new requirement, which it imposed retroactively.

Question 

1) Did the Seventh Circuit err in setting aside a final arbitration award for an alleged due process violation?

2) Are prearbitration settlement conferences a prerequisite for NRAB jurisdiction over a dispute?

Conclusion 
Decision: 9 votes for Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision:

Yes and No. With Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg writing for a unanimous bench, the Court held that the Seventh Circuit effectively resolved the Union's core complaint, but erred in doing so under a "constitutional, rather than statutory headline." The Court reasoned that there was no due process issue "alive" in the case. The Court further held that prearbitration settlement conferences are not a prerequisite for NRAB jurisdiction over a dispute. The Court reasoned that prearbitration conference requirements set out by the NRAB run independent of the collective bargaining process and do not bear on the merits of an actual grievance.

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UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD CO. v. BROTHERHOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 10 September 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2009/2009_08_604>.
UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD CO. v. BROTHERHOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2009/2009_08_604 (last visited September 10, 2014).
"UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD CO. v. BROTHERHOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 10, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2009/2009_08_604.