CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC.; CSX INTERMODAL TERMINALS, INC.; NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION, d/b/a Amtrak; SPRINGFIELD TERMINAL RAILWAY COMPANY, Plaintiffs, Appellees,
MAURA HEALEY, in her official capacity as Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Defendant, Appellant, TRANSPORTATION DIVISION OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SHEET METAL, AIR, RAIL AND TRANSPORTATION WORKERS; MECHANICAL DIVISION OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SHEET METAL, AIR, RAIL AND TRANSPORTATION WORKERS; BROTHERHOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS AND TRAINMEN; BROTHERHOOD OF MAINTENANCE OF WAY EMPLOYES DIVISION/IBT; BROTHERHOOD OF RAILROAD SIGNALMEN; INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS; NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF FIREMEN & OILERS DISTRICT OF LOCAL 32BJ, SEIU, Defendants. CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC.; CSX INTERMODAL TERMINALS, INC.; NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION, d/b/a Amtrak; SPRINGFIELD TERMINAL RAILWAY COMPANY, Plaintiffs, Appellees,
TRANSPORTATION DIVISION OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SHEET METAL, AIR, RAIL AND TRANSPORTATION WORKERS; MECHANICAL DIVISION OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SHEET METAL, AIR, RAIL AND TRANSPORTATION WORKERS; BROTHERHOOD OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS AND TRAINMEN; BROTHERHOOD OF MAINTENANCE OF WAY EMPLOYES DIVISION/IBT; BROTHERHOOD OF RAILROAD SIGNALMEN; INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS; NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF FIREMEN & OILERS DISTRICT OF LOCAL 32BJ, SEIU, Defendants, Appellants, MAURA HEALEY, in her official capacity as Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Defendant.
APPEALS FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS [Hon. Nathaniel M. Gorton, U.S.
Douglas S. Martland, Assistant Attorney General, with whom
Maura Healey, Attorney General of Massachusetts, and Pierce
O. Cray, Assistant Attorney General, were on brief, for the
Michael S. Wolly, with whom Zwerdling, Paul, Kahn &
Wolly, P.C., Richard S. Edelman, Mooney, Green, Saindon,
Murphy and Welch PC, Erika A. Diehl-Gibbons, Kevin C. Brodar,
and SMART-TD were on brief, for the union appellants.
J. Munro, with whom Anthony J. Dick and Jones Day were on
brief, for the appellees.
Patricia Smith, Solicitor of Labor, United States Department
of Labor, G. William Scott, Associate Solicitor, Elizabeth
Hopkins, Counsel for Appellate and Special Litigation,
Melissa Moore, Attorney, Plan Benefits Security Division,
Benjamin C. Mizer, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney
General, United States Department of Justice, Civil Division,
Alisa B. Klein, Attorney, Appellate Staff, Civil Division,
Lindsey Powell, Attorney, Appellate Staff, Civil Division,
and Carmen M. Ortiz, United States Attorney, on brief for the
United States as amicus curiae in support of the appellants.
Lynch, Lipez, and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.
KAYATTA, Circuit Judge.
2014, Massachusetts voters enacted by plebiscite the
Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law ("MESTL"). 2014
Mass. Legis. Serv. ch. 505 (West). The law requires most
employers with eleven or more employees to provide
"[e]arned paid sick time" for a variety of reasons,
including absence from work due to illness. Mass. Gen. Laws
ch. 149, § 148C(a)-(c). The question posed by these
appeals is whether application of the MESTL to interstate
rail carriers that employ workers in Massachusetts is
preempted by the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act
("RUIA"), 45 U.S.C. §§ 351-369. That
federal law requires interstate rail carriers to bear the
cost of an insurance program for employees who miss work on
account of sickness and are not otherwise compensated during
their absence. See id. § 352(a)(1)(B). The RUIA
states that its provision for the payment of sickness
benefits is "exclusive, " and that no person
employed by an interstate rail carrier "shall have or
assert any right . . . to sickness benefits under a sickness
law of any State." Id. § 363(b).
following reasons, we agree with the district court that the
RUIA certainly preempts some parts of the MESTL as applied to
employees of interstate rail carriers. We nevertheless remand
for further consideration of whether other parts of the
Massachusetts law that are not within the preemptive reach of
the RUIA, and are not otherwise preempted by another federal
law, might still be applied to interstate rail carriers.
originally enacted in 1938, the RUIA mandated that interstate
rail carriers fund an insurance system that provides partial
wage replacement, known as "unemployment benefits,
" to covered employees who are not working but who are
able and available to work. See Act of June 25,
1938, ch. 680, §§ 1(k), 2(a), 52 Stat. 1094, 1096
(codified as amended at 45 U.S.C. §§ 351(k)(1),
352(a)(1)(A)). In 1946, Congress added to the RUIA a mandate
that interstate rail carriers also fund "sickness
benefits" to provide a minimum level of wage replacement
for employees unable to work due to sickness. See
Act of July 31, 1946, ch. 709, §§ 301-07, 60 Stat.
722, 735-37 (codified at 45 U.S.C. §§ 351(h)-(i),
(k)(2), (l), 352(a), (c), (f)).
sickness benefits to the statute required Congress to address
a series of questions. Who was covered? Which conditions
qualified as a sickness? When did the employee become
eligible for sickness benefits? What was the amount and
duration of the benefits? How and to what extent must the
employer fund the benefits? The text of the RUIA answers each
of these questions. As generally applicable to most
employees, it requires the payment of "sickness
benefits" for "each day of sickness after the 4th
consecutive day of sickness in a period of continuing
sickness." 45 U.S.C. § 352(a)(1)(B)(i). A
"day of sickness" means "a calendar day on
which because of any physical, mental, psychological, or
nervous injury, illness, sickness, or disease [the employee]
is not able to work." Id. § 351(k)(2). It
also encompasses, "with respect to a female employee, a
calendar day on which, because of pregnancy, miscarriage, or
the birth of a child, (i) she is unable to work or (ii)
working would be injurious to her health." Id.
The only added criteria defining "day of sickness"
are that a "day of sickness" does not include: (1)
a day on which "remuneration is payable or accrues to
[the employee], " or (2) a day of unpaid absence not
documented in accordance "with such regulations as the
[Railroad Retirement] Board may prescribe." Id.
In other words, the employee gets no wage replacement if the
employee is collecting payment for services anyhow, or if the
employee does not document the claim for sickness benefits in
accordance with regulations established by the Board that
administers these benefits.
decisions by Congress established only the minimum level of
benefits that must be paid. Employers remained free to
provide benefits to sick workers sooner, to continue benefits
longer, or to pay benefits at higher rates. The employees, in
turn, remained free to bargain for better benefits.
mandated a nationwide, minimum level of sickness benefits for
this quintessentially interstate business, Congress also
exercised its power under the Supremacy Clause to preempt
certain state laws. The text of the preemption provision
states as follows:
By enactment of this chapter the Congress makes exclusive
provision for the payment of unemployment benefits for
unemployment occurring after June 30, 1939 and for the
payment of sickness benefits for sickness periods after June
30, 1947, based upon employment (as defined in this chapter).
No employee shall have or assert any right to unemployment
benefits under an unemployment compensation law of any State
with respect to unemployment occurring after June 30, 1939,
or to sickness benefits under a sickness law of any State
with respect to sickness periods occurring after June 30,
1947, based upon employment (as defined in this chapter). The
Congress finds and declares that by virtue of the enactment
of this chapter, the application of State unemployment
compensation laws after June 30, 1939, or of State sickness
laws after June 30, 1947, to such employment, except pursuant
to section 362(g) of this title, would constitute an undue
burden upon, and an undue interference with the effective
regulation of, interstate commerce.
Id. § 363(b).
parties agree that the foregoing language, as applied today
to interstate rail carriers, plainly preempts any mandate to
provide "sickness benefits under a sickness law of any
State . . . based upon employment." Id. Their
disagreement centers on whether the employee benefits
mandated by the MESTL qualify as such. Before the MESTL took
effect, several interstate rail carriers sought assurance
from the Massachusetts Attorney General that the law would
not apply to their railroad employees working in
Massachusetts. The Attorney General "declined to offer
any assurances" about the relationship between the state
and federal laws.
"a substantial threat of imminent prosecution, "
the carriers filed the present action against the Attorney
General seeking a declaratory judgment that the MESTL is
preempted by the RUIA as well as by the Railway Labor Act
("RLA"), 45 U.S.C. §§ 151-165, and the
Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"),
29 U.S.C. §§ 1001-1461. The district court
permitted several unions representing Massachusetts railroad
workers to intervene as defendants. It also accepted a
"statement of interest" filed by the United States
in support of the defendants. In due course, the district
court granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff
carriers, holding that the RUIA preempted the MESTL in its
entirety as applied to the plaintiff carriers. In so
disposing of the action, the district court did not reach the
plaintiffs' alternative claims that either the RLA or
ERISA preempted the MESTL, which the parties had agreed to
litigate, if necessary, in a second phase of the action. Nor
did it expressly consider ...