Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

2d Circuit Reviews Standard For DFR Cases


Lindsay v. Association of Professional Flight Attendants, ___F.3d___(2d Cir. Sept. 21, 2009),  is and interesting case. In a 31 page decision, the 2d held that the union did not breach its duty of fair representation by negotiating a restructing plan. For those interested in the RLA, the court also extensively reviews relevant RLA case law. The court describes the duty of fair representation as follows:

"The statutory duty of fair representation was developed [in the 1940s] in a series of cases involving alleged racial discrimination by unions certified as exclusive bargaining representatives under the Railway Labor Act." Vaca v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171, 177 (1967). In these cases, the Supreme Court ruled that "the exclusive agent's statutory authority to represent all members of a designated unit includes a statutory obligation to serve the interests of all members without hostility or discrimination toward any, to exercise its discretion with complete good faith and honesty, and to avoid arbitrary conduct." Id.; see Ramey v. Dist. 141, Int'l Ass'n of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, 378 F.3d 269, 276 -77 (2d Cir. 2004). This "tripartite standard" applies to "'challenges leveled not only at a union's contract administration and enforcement efforts but at its negotiation activities as well,'" i.e., to both "major" and "minor" disputes under the RLA. Air Line Pilots Ass'n, Int'l v. O'Neill, 499 U.S. 65, 77 (1991) (quoting Communications Workers v. Beck, 487 U.S. 735, 743 (1988))

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

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