blebul3a.gif (310 bytes) Railway Labor Act - Course of Study blebul2a.gif (318 bytes)

A Review of the Statutory and Policy Considerations
Associated with the Processes for Labor Dispute
Resolution in the Nation’s Airline and Railroad Industries 

Outline: 

I. Policy Considerations in Transportation Labor Dispute Resolution under the Railway Labor Act. 

A. Value of anticipated risk in promoting resolution. 

B. Economic and other consequences of traditional litigation dispute resolution. 

C. Potential advantages to pre-designated ADR expectations. 

II. History of Unresolved Serious Labor Disputes in the Airline and Railroad Industries. 

A. Economic impact on parties’ private interests. 

B. Adverse effect on public interest. 

III. Early Alternative Dispute Resolution Legislation - Precursors to the Railway Labor Act. 

A. Arbitration Act of 1888 

B. Erdman Act. 

C. Newlands Act. 

D. Adamson Act. 

IV. Federal Control of the Railroad Industry (1918 – 1920). 

A. Experiment – success or failure? 

B. Impact on the parties’ dispute resolution approaches. 

V. Mutual Support for Railway Labor Act of 1926. 

A. Support by labor and management leaders. 

B. Congressional accommodation of parties’ recommendations. 

VI. Jurisdictional Application of 1926 Railway Labor Act 

A. Direct rail carriers. 

B. Derivative carriers. 

C. Trucking service exception. 

D. Exclusions of specified activities. 

1) Suburban electric railway 

2) Mining or supplying coal 

E. Employees or subordinate officials. 

1) Surface Transportation Board orders 

2) Exclusion of individuals mining, preparing, handling coal 

VII. National Mediation Board Established by 1934 Amendments. 

A. Members of National Mediation Board. 

1) Statutory terms of office 

2) RLA statutory conflict of interest provisions 

3) Quorum requirements for Board Members 

B. Staffing approaches. 

1) Authority to appoint officers and employees 

2) Authority to delegate Board Members’ powers and duties 

C. NMB maintenance of confidentiality. 

1) Code of Federal Regulations provisions 

2) Protection of confidential records from disclosure 

3) Established Board practice to promote and protect mediation confidentiality 

VIII. Dispute Resolution Authority of RLA Extended to the Airline Industry in 1936. 

A. Extension to carriers by air. 

1) Common carrier by air in interstate or foreign commerce 

2) Every air carrier transporting mail for or under contract with the U.S. 

3) Administrative extension of RLA to derivative carriers 

4) Issue of application of trucking service exception to air carriers 

B. Extension to individuals 

1) Statutory application to every air pilot or other person who performs any work as an employee or subordinate official... 

2) Administrative extension to employees of derivative carriers 

C. Difficult unresolved disputes leading to RLA’s enactment. 

D. Acceptance of comprehensive dispute resolution processes. 

IX. Status Quo Requirements of RLA 

A. Statutory preclusion of changes to existing collective bargaining agreements 

B. Judicial extension of status quo requirements to labor strikes 

C. Judicial extension of status quo requirements to existing conditions beyond terms of existing collective bargaining agreements 

D. Statutory exhaustion of status quo requirements 

E. Statutory exception to status quo requirements 

X. Advance Notice of Proposed Changes to Collective Bargaining Agreements Required by RLA. 

A. Thirty days advance written notice. 

B. Specificity of notice. 

XI. RLA Obligation to Meet and Confer to Resolve Disputes. 

A. Concept of minimizing adverse surprises. 

B. Practical misuses of conferences. 

C. Time and place to be agreed upon promptly. 

XII Obligation to Use “Every Reasonable Effort” to Resolve Disputes. 

A. Statutory “good faith” negotiation approach. 

B. Applicable to making or changing collective bargaining agreements and application of such agreements. B. Judicial vs. alternative enforcement. 

XIII. Designation of Representatives by Parties 

A. No interference, influence or coercion by parties over other party’s designation of a representative. 

B. Employees’ representatives not required to be carrier employees 

XIV. Right to Organize and Bargaining Collectively. 

A. Statutory requirement that employees are organized in “craft or class” groupings. 

B. Administrative determination of system wide “craft or class” structure 

C. Statutory requirement for majority determination of “craft or class” representative. 

D. Administrative determination of majority participation requirement. 

E. Statutory preclusion of use of carrier funds for maintaining or assisting labor organizations.

 XV. Mandatory Participation in Third-party Mediation Efforts under RLA. 

A. Mediation process generally. 

1) Invocation by either party or directly by NMB. 

2) Effect of “docketing” a mediation application by NMB. 

3) Assignment of professional mediation by NMB. 

B. Confidentiality during mediation. 

1) Positive effect on mediation process. 

2) Potential vulnerability of written mediation materials. 

XVI. Statutory and Persuasive Powers of Mediators under RLA. 

A. Duration of mediation. 

1) Active mediation with mediator present. 

2) Continued negotiations between mediation sessions. 

3) Interregnums of mediation and negotiations. 

B. Location and setting of mediation. 

1) Advantages/disadvantages of various types of settings.

2) Discretionary determination by mediator/NMB. 

3) Enforceability of NMB location determinations. 

XVII. Discretionary Presidential Emergency Boards under RLA (Advisory Arbitration Process). 

A. Statutory notification to President by NMB. 

B. Discretionary establishment of emergency board by President. 

C. Maintenance/Restoration of status quo during emergency board processes. 

D. Establishment of emergency board by Presidential executive order. 

1) Executive branch clearance of executive order. 

2) Service of executive order on parties. 

E. Selection and appointment of emergency board members by President. 

1) Statutory disqualification of potential emergency board members. 

2) Compensation of emergency board members. 

3) Specified term of office of emergency board members. 

F. Proceedings of emergency board. 

1) Board processes are discretionary. 

2) Optional fact-finding hearing. 

3) Optional ex parte proceedings with parties in separate sessions. 

4) Optional mediation efforts by members of emergency board. 

B. Persuasive impact of advisory arbitration process. 

XVIII. Permissive Interest Arbitration Process under RLA. 

A. Written agreement selecting issues for interest arbitration. 

B. Selection of arbitration board members. 

1) Direct selection of neutral arbitrator by arbitrators appointed by the parties. 

2) Selection of neutral by National Mediation Board. 3) Statutory conflict of interests by arbitrators. 

C. Compensation and expenses of arbitration board members and assistants. 

1) Arbitrators named by parties to the dispute 

2) Arbitrator(s) named by National Mediation Board. 

3) National Mediation may authorize the compensation of assistants to the arbitration board. 

D. Hearing before arbitration board. 

1) Opportunity to present evidence provided for by RLA. 

2) Right to counsel or other representative provided for by RLA. 

3) Board’s power to subpoena witnesses and compel the production of documents. 

4) Board’s power to administer oaths of affirmations. 

5) Witnesses fees and expenses. 

E. Award of arbitration board. 

1) Served on parties to the dispute. 

2) Filed with applicable U. S. District court and National Mediation Board. 

F. Reconvening arbitration board. 

1) Specific issue(s) for interpretation or application specified by request to reconvene. 

2) Arbitration board reconvened upon notice by National Mediation Board. 

3) Board’s jurisdiction limited to resolving the meaning or application of the arbitration board’s original award in connection with the specific issue(s) specified. 

G. Non-judicial enforcement of arbitration board award. 

H. Judicial Enforcement and Review of arbitration board award. 

1) Award presumed to be “conclusive” as to the facts and merits of the matters in dispute. 

2) Final judgment on the award automatically entered by the applicable U. S. District Court in which the award was filed unless timely petition to impeach filed. 

3) Petition to impeach cognizable only on limited statutory grounds. 

a) Award is inconsistent with Railway Labor Act. 

b) Award is inconsistent with agreement to arbitrate. 

c) Fraud or corruption by a member of the arbitration board or a party to the arbitration process. 

4) Expedited appellate processes in the U. S. Court of Appeals. 

XIX. Mandatory Rights Arbitration Processes under RLA. 

A. Statutory basis for interpretation and application of collective bargaining agreements in the railroad industry under the RLA 

1) National Railroad Adjustment Board 

2) Public Law Boards 

3) Special Boards of Adjustment 

B. Process issues applicable to railroad industry rights arbitration 

1) Selection of arbitrators 

a) Role of parties 

b) Role of National Mediation Board 

2) Compensation of arbitrators. 

3) On-property fact finding proceedings. 

4) Screening disputes for rights arbitration. 

5) Mediation of rights disputes. 

6) Appellate nature of statutory arbitration process. 

7) Interpretation of railroad industry arbitration awards. 

8) Enforcement and review of arbitration awards 

a) Voluntary compliance 

b) Statutory standards for judicial enforcement and review 

i) Failure to comply with Railway Labor Act requirements. 

ii) Failure to conform to matters within the board’s jurisdiction. 

iii) Fraud or corruption by a member of the arbitration tribunal. 

C. Statutory basis for interpretation and application of collective bargaining agreements in the airline industry under the RLA 

1) National Air Transport Adjustment Board. 

2) Airline system boards established by the parties. 

D. Process issues applicable to airline industry rights arbitration 

1) Selection of arbitrators. 

a) Role of parties. 

b) Role of National Mediation Board. 

2) Compensation of arbitrators. 

3) Fact finding proceedings before arbitrator. 

4) Enforcement and review of arbitration awards 

a) Voluntary compliance. 

b) Judicially applied standards for judicial enforcement and review. 

i) Due process standards. 

ii) Review standards adopted from title I of Railway Labor Act. 

1) Failure to comply with Railway Labor Act requirements. 

2) Failure to conform to matters within the board’s jurisdiction. 

3) Fraud or corruption by a member of the arbitration tribunal. 

4) Screening disputes for rights arbitration. 

5) Mediation of rights disputes. 

XX. Principles of Administrative Law for Exclusive Agency Adjudication (Employee Representation) under RLA. 

A. Stipulation vs. investigation. 

B. National consistency vs. local interests. 

C. Enforcement and review of agency adjudication.

XXI. Accommodations of RLA to External Legislation. 

A. State and local statutes and ordinances. 

B. Federal statutes and regulations. 

XXII. Preemption Issues associated with the RLA. 

A. State and local statutes and ordinances. 

B. Federal statutes and regulations. 

XXIII. Judicial Intervention Associated with Railway Labor Act Dispute Resolution. 

A. Limits of jurisdiction vs. discretionary judicial restraint. 

B. Contractual limits to exclude judicial access. 

XIV. Review of ADR Policy Considerations in Transportation Labor Dispute Resolution under the Railway Labor Act. 

A. Economic and other advantages of in-place ADR processes of RLA. 

B. Potential impacts of reduced risk and reduced dispute resolution costs. 

C. Negotiated vs. legislated dispute resolution environment. 

D. Record of successful dispute resolution efforts under the Railway Labor Act. 

E. Support of parties to dispute resolution processes under the Railway Labor Act. 

F. Historical pattern of very limited amendments to the RLA. 

G. Considerations for future amendments to the RLA. 

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