Local Division 589 v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts

666 F.2d 618 (1981) | Cited 38 times | First Circuit | October 23, 1981



The plaintiff in these cases, the Transit Union, moves this court to reconsider its decision of September 30, 1981, to rehear this case en banc, and to grant an additional thirty days to file a further brief in support of its motions. The parties have had considerable opportunity to argue their position in this case. Initially, when this court considered an application for a stay of the district court's order, the Transit Union filed a brief, a reply brief, and argued orally at hearing. Subsequently, with the court's permission, the Transit Union filed a 100-page brief and a reply brief on the merits; it again participated in oral argument. It has now filed an 11-page brief in support of its present motions. All of these briefs have involved, roughly speaking, the same issues which were considered thoroughly by this court in its September 30, 1981 opinion. We are therefore reluctant, given the demands of other cases, to grant extensions of time, and to invite further briefing.

Moreover, we do not believe that additional briefing is necessary given the arguments that the Transit Union now seeks to raise:

1. The Transit Union states that we did not address the question of whether the Massachusetts state laws violate the Contract Clause of the Constitution through conflict with the 1974 § 13(c) assurances that the Transit Union and the MBTA made to the Secretary of Labor; rather, our Contract Clause discussion focused upon the 1973 Basic Agreement between the Transit Union and the MBTA. It is true that the parties did not argue the "§ 13(c)/Contract Clause" issue as a separate matter before us. But, had they done so, the result would have been the same. We held that Congress intended that § 13(c) assurances be subject to specific state statutes to the contrary. Consequently, any § 13(c) agreement was made subject to possible state enactment of a conflicting statute. Hence, such a statute could not have impaired the obligations of the "contract" (if it was one).

2. The Transit Union argues that we ought not to have applied the standard of Schwartz v. Texas, 344 U.S. 199, 73 S. Ct. 232, 97 L. Ed. 231 (1952), requiring a clear showing of congressional intent to preempt a field. Since we are dealing with the question of whether Congress intended a set of lengthy, detailed, specific assurances, presented to the Secretary of Labor by private parties to prevail over state law to the contrary, the Schwartz standard would seem appropriate. But even if it is not, the result would not change. Our review of the relevant legislative history, set out in the opinion, makes clear that Congress did not intend the detailed, local assurances negotiated under § 13(c) to invalidate specific state laws to the contrary.

3. The Transit Union reiterates its view that our decision conflicts with the law in other circuits. We discussed the views of other circuits, including that of the Sixth Circuit and Eighth Circuit, in our opinion. We concluded that contrary views, for the most part, are expressed in dicta or alternative holdings. We found no other opinion that explored the issue in depth. None of the cases cited involves the type of conflict between state law and § 13(c) assurances present here, namely, state law that takes the form of a specific, clear state statute, directly and purposefully aimed at local transit problems (and an ambiguously worded § 13(c) agreement made several years before). We remain convinced that there is not yet any significant conflict on this issue among the circuits. But, in any event, for reasons previously set out, we have not followed the approach that the Transit Union believes the opinions that it cites suggest.

4. The Transit Union points to legislative history showing that § 13(c) was amended by Senator Morse and states that the amendment makes the difference. This court previously reviewed the entire legislative history of the statute, including the Morse amendment. That amendment was directed at the terms of the § 13(c) assurance, not at the question of whether the assurance was designed to supersede state law. Indeed, as the opinion points out, Senator Morse himself subsequently stated that the "state can continue its (conflicting) policy if it wishes to; but ... the State should not be allowed to receive Federal money...."

5. The Transit Union states that a rehearing en banc is required because we have modified a prior decision, Local Division 714, Amalgamated Transit Union v. Greater Portland Transit District, 589 F.2d 1 (1st Cir. 1978). The "question of when to hold, or when not to hold, an en banc hearing is within the discretion of this court." United States v. Martorano, 620 F.2d 912 (1st Cir. 1980); Fed. R. App. P. 35(a). As we pointed out, we have not overruled Greater Portland. Greater Portland holds that the federal courts have jurisdiction to enforce § 13(c) agreements. We stated that we would not follow language in that opinion insofar as it might be read to suggest that a § 13(c) assurance automatically prevails over conflicting state law. Greater Portland will still offer both jurisdiction and meaningful relief in other cases.

6. The Transit Union makes other arguments related to the enforceability of § 13(c) and potential conflict between state law and that statute. We have discussed these issues in the opinion, describing the discretion that Congress meant to confer upon the Secretary of Labor and concluding that the Secretary maintains authority to prevent violation of the statute.

This cursory review of the issues the Transit Union now raises is meant to suggest that, for the most part, its arguments are dealt with more thoroughly in our previous opinion and that its other arguments do not provide adequate reason for a rehearing or a rehearing en banc. Consequently, the motions for a rehearing, rehearing en banc, and for an extension of time to file a further brief are denied.

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