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Railway Conductors v. Pitney, 326 U.S. 561 (1946)

Order of Railway Conductors of America v. Pitney

No. 37

Argued November 9, 1945

Decided January 14, 1946

326 U.S. 561


While a proceeding for reorganization of a railroad under § 77 of the Bankruptcy Act was pending in the District Court, the trustees agreed with the bargaining representative of "yard conductors" that certain trains which had been manned by "road conductors" should be manned by "yard conductors." Relying on earlier agreements, the bargaining representative of the road conductors petitioned the court to instruct the trustees not to displace the road conductors and to enjoin such action as long as the earlier agreements were not altered in accordance with the Railway Labor Act. The court determined that the yard conductors were entitled to man the trains in question, and dismissed the petition.


1. So far as the order constituted instructions to the trustees, it was within the supervisory power of the District Court as a bankruptcy court, and is affirmed. Pp. 326 U. S. 562, 326 U. S. 567.

2. The District Court should not have interpreted the agreements for purposes of finally adjudicating the dispute between the unions and the railroad, but should stay dismissal of the cause so as to afford opportunity for application to the Adjustment Board for an interpretation of the agreements pursuant to the Railway Labor Act. P. 567.

3. Congress having created by the Railway Labor Act an agency especially competent and specifically designated to settle such a labor dispute as is here involved, the court should exercise equitable discretion to give that agency the first opportunity to pass on the issue. The extraordinary relief of an injunction should be withheld at least until then. P. 326 U. S. 567.

4. Any rights clearly revealed by an interpretation of the agreements by the Adjustment Board might then, if the situation warrants, be protected in this proceeding. P. 326 U. S. 568.

145 F.2d 351 modified.

Certiorari, 325 U.S. 849, to review a judgment which, upon appeal from an order of the bankruptcy court, remanded

Page 326 U. S. 562

the cause for dismissal without prejudice to any action or proceeding not in conflict with the Railway Labor Act.

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