Robert W. Kaps examines air transport labor law in the United States as well as the underlying legislative and policy directives established by the federal government. The body of legislation governing labor relations in the private sector of the U.S. economy consists of two separate and distinct acts: the Railway Labor Act (RLA), which governs labor relations in the railroad and airline industries, and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which governs labor relations in all other industrial sectors.
Although the NLRA closely follows the pattern established by the RLA, Kaps notes that the two laws are distinguishable in several important areas. Labor contracts negotiated under the RLA continue in perpetuity, for example, whereas all other labor contracts expire at a specified date. Other important areas of difference relate to the collective bargaining process itself, the procedures for the arbitration of disputes and grievances, and the spheres of authority and jurisdiction to consider such matters as unfair labor practices.
Congress established a special labor law for railroad and airline workers for several reasons. Because of transportation’s critical importance to the economy, an essential goal of public policy has been to ensure that both passenger and freight transportation services continue without interruption. Production can cease—at least temporarily—in most other industries without causing significant harm to the economy. When transportation stops, however, production stops. Thus Congress saw fit to enact a statute that contained provisions to ensure that labor strife would not halt rail services. Primarily because of the importance of air mail transportation, the Railway Labor Act of 1926 was extended to the airline industry in 1936.
The first section of this book introduces labor policy and presents a history of the labor movement in the United States. Discussing early labor legislation, Kaps focuses on unfair labor practices and subsequent major labor statutes.
The second section provides readers with a comparison of labor provisions that apply to the railroad and airline industries as well as to the remainder of the economy.
The final section centers on the evolution of labor in the airline industry. The author pays particular attention to recent events affecting labor in commercial aviation, particularly the effect of airline deregulation on airline labor.