Landers v. National Railroad Passenger Corporation

485 U. S. 652

April 27, 1988

Amtrak had a collective bargaining agreement with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers union (BLE). This agreement said that only the BLE could represent employees at disciplinary proceedings. An Amtrak engineer who belonged to a different union wanted that union to represent him instead. He said that the Railway Labor Act gave him that right.

White wrote for a unanimous Court against the engineer. While the Railway Labor Act did give employees the right to belong to rival unions, it also said that disciplinary proceedings would go forth according to the provisions in the collective bargaining agreement. White found it significant that the Act specifically allowed for an employee’s choice of representation in a different kind of dispute proceeding. This strongly implied that the same choice was not given for the proceeding at issue.

White also gave some insight as to why all this was good public policy. Some nonsense about not inflaming bitter rivalry between members of different unions. It makes no difference to me. Railway engineers shouldn’t have to belong to a union in the first place, and the Railway Labor Act shouldn’t exist. Unions delenda est!

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