United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC., CSX INTERMODAL TERMINALS, INC., NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION and SPRINGFIELD TERMINAL RAILWAY COMPANY, Plaintiffs,
MAURA HEALEY, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Nathaniel M. Gorton, United States District Judge
case arises from allegations that the Massachusetts Earned
Sick Time Law (“ESTL”) at M.G.L. c. 149 §
148C, approved by Massachusetts voters in 2014, is preempted
by three federal statutes.
before the Court are three motions for partial summary
judgment on Count 1 which asserts that the ESTL is expressly
preempted by the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act
(“RUIA”), 45 U.S.C. § 351, et seq.. For the
reasons that follow, the motion for partial summary judgment
by plaintiffs will be allowed and the motions for partial
summary judgment by defendant and the intervening unions will
Background and procedural history
CSX Transportation, Inc., CSX Intermodal Terminals, Inc.,
National Railroad Passenger Corporation d/b/a Amtrak and
Springfield Terminal Railway Company (collectively,
“CSX” or “plaintiffs”) are operators
of rail transportation systems and intermodal terminals
located in Massachusetts. The parties agree that all
plaintiffs are “employers” within the meaning of
the RUIA and all individuals employed by them in
Massachusetts are “employees” and thus eligible
for federal statutory “sickness benefits” under
Maura Healey (“Healey” or
“defendant”) is the Attorney General of the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts and is named in her official
capacity. As Attorney General, she is charged with the
rulemaking for, and enforcement of, the purportedly preempted
portions of the ESTL.
intervening parties are the Transportation and Mechanical
Divisions of the International Association of Sheet Metal,
Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, the Brotherhood of
Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the International
Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the National Conference of
Firemen & Oilers District of Local 32BJ, SEIU, the
Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen and the Brotherhood of
Maintenance of Way Employes Division/IBT (collectively,
“the union intervenors”). They are the collective
bargaining representatives for the employees who would be
affected by the relief sought by plaintiffs.
United States (“the federal government”) is an
interested party which submitted a “statement of
interest” in this action to set forth its position
concerning the effect of the express preemption provision of
the RUIA on the ESTL. The federal government claims to have a
“substantial interest” in ensuring that the scope
of that RUIA provision does not “unduly
interfere” with the traditional police powers of the
states to establish minimum labor standards.
parties agree that in November, 2014, Massachusetts voters
approved the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law at M.G.L. c.
149, § 148C which requires certain employers to provide
“earned paid sick time” to qualifying employees
in Massachusetts. That law became effective on July 1, 2015.
Plaintiffs have not implemented or complied with the ESTL
because they believe that it is preempted by federal law.
Defendant has declined their request to “provide a
permanent commitment not to enforce” the ESTL against
initiated this action by filing a complaint against Healey
and the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General in June,
2015 and an amended complaint naming Healey as the sole
defendant in November, 2015. Plaintiffs seek declaratory
judgments that the ESTL is preempted by the RUIA (Count 1),
the Railway Labor Act (“RLA”) at 45 U.S.C. §
151, et seq. (Count 2) and the Employee Retirement Income
Security Act (“ERISA”) at 29 U.S.C. § 1140,
et seq. (Count 3). Plaintiffs also seek to enjoin Healey from
enforcing or applying the ESTL against them.
February, 2016, this Court convened a scheduling conference
during which the parties agreed to bifurcate the action and
litigate the RUIA claim in Phase 1 and the RLA and ERISA
claims in Phase 2.
moved for summary judgment on the RUIA claim in March, 2016.
The Court allowed the union intervenors to participate in the
action and move for summary judgment on the RUIA claim in
May, 2016. Defendant submitted a motion for summary judgment
on the same claim shortly thereafter. The parties stipulated
that there are no material facts in dispute. The Court
convened a hearing on those motions in July, 2016.
Motions for summary judgment A. Legal standard
role of summary judgment is “to pierce the pleadings
and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a
genuine need for trial.” Mesnick v. Gen. Elec.
Co., 950 F.2d 816, 822 (1st Cir. 1991) (quoting
Garside v. Osco Drug, Inc., 895 F.2d 46, 50 (1st
Cir. 1990)). The burden is on the moving party to show,
through the pleadings, discovery and affidavits, “that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
is material if it “might affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law”. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A genuine issue
of material fact exists where the evidence with respect to
the material fact in dispute “is such that a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
moving party satisfies its burden, the burden shifts to the
non-moving party to set forth specific facts showing that
there is a genuine, triable issue. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). The Court must view
the entire record in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party and make all reasonable inferences in that
party's favor. O'Connor v. Steeves, 994 F.2d
905, 907 (1st Cir. 1993). Summary judgment is appropriate if,
after viewing the record in the non-moving party's favor,
the Court determines that no genuine issue of material fact
exists and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.
Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution provides
that the laws of the United States . . . shall be the supreme
law of the land . . . any Thing in the Constitution or laws
of any State to the contrary notwithstanding. U.S. CONST.
art. VI, cl. 2. State laws which conflict with federal law
are preempted and “without effect”. Altria
Grp., Inc. v. Good, 555 U.S. 70, 76 (2008).
purpose is the “ultimate touchstone” in every
preemption case. Id. A court considering the
preemptive effect of an express preemption clause in a
federal statute must assess the substance and scope of
Congress’s displacement of state law, id., in
order to identify the matters that it did and did not intend
to preempt, Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. Reilly, 533
U.S. 525, 541 (2001). The inquiry commences with the
statutory language “which necessarily contains the best
evidence of Congress’ pre-emptive intent”.
CSX Transp., Inc. v. Easterwood, 507 U.S. 658, 664
(1993). The court may also consider the purpose, history and
surrounding statutory scheme of the express preemption
clause. Mass. Delivery Ass’n v. Coakley, 769
F.3d 11, 17 (1st Cir. 2014).
preemption inquiry implicates the historic police powers of
the state or a field traditionally occupied by the states,
the court must apply the presumption against preemption which
can be overcome by a finding of clear and unambiguous
congressional intent to preempt state law. Altria, 555 U.S.
Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act
enacted the first version of the Railroad Unemployment
Insurance Act in 1938 to establish a system of unemployment
insurance for covered employees. R.R. Ret. Bd. v.
Duquesne Warehouse Co., 326 U.S. 446, 448 (1946). It
amended the statute in 1946 to provide qualified employees
with “unemployment benefits” and “sickness
benefits” which would both be administered by the
Railroad Retirement Board (“RRB”), § 352,
and funded by contributions from employers, § 358.
amended statute defines “benefits” as monetary
payments to an employee with respect to his or her
unemployment or sickness and sets the daily benefits rate at
60% of his or her daily rate of compensation at the last
position held. § 351(l)(1)(benefits); §
352(a)(2)(daily benefit rate). A qualified employee is
entitled to “sickness benefits” which are
benefits . . . for each day ...