Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Aircraft Svc. Int'l v. Working Washington (9th Cir. - March 10, 2015)

I'm not sure that today's en banc opinion by Judge Owens necessarily articulates a "voice" that will be displayed throughout his long tenure on the Ninth Circuit.  But if it does, I for one will be happy.

It's a labor law opinion in which there's a concurrence from some harder core lefties (led by Judges Berzon) and a dissent from some more conservative judges (led by Judge Kleinfeld) about whether the district court properly enjoined aircraft fuelers at Seattle-Tacoma Airport from striking.  The majority holds that it erred, while the dissent disagrees.

Here's the end of Judge Owens' opinion.  Which I very much like:

"We emphasize that our conclusion is modest: we hold that a party must comply with Section 8 of the NLGA before seeking an injunction under the RLA. The dissent’s suggestion that our holding will disrupt commerce is fundamentally mistaken. As the Supreme Court has explained, “the purpose” of Section 8 “is to head off strikes,” not encourage them. Toledo, 321 U.S. at 65 (emphasis added). Section 8’s salutary mandate that parties make all reasonable efforts to settle labor disputes before seeking judicial intervention will help prevent, not cause, interruptions to commerce. By contrast, allowing injunctions when the necessary steps “have not been taken, not only violates the section’s terms,” but encourages parties to act unilaterally and avoid the reasonable steps that “when achieved, make unnecessary invocation of the court’s aid.” . . .

Our decision will neither summon monsters from the deep nor rain frogs from the heavens to “destroy” the North American transportation system. We do not hold that courts are prohibited from enjoining airport strikes. Rather, our narrow holding—compelled by Toledo and consistent with that of the vast majority of courts confronting this issue—merely requires carriers to abide by Section 8’s requirements before seeking an injunction. Because the record lacks evidence that ASIG made every reasonable effort to settle the dispute, we reverse the district court’s order and vacate the preliminary injunction."

For the record, however, if frogs ever do rain from the heavens, I wouldn't at all be surprised if the location of this meteorological event was Seattle.