The Railway Labor Act of 1926 (“RLA”), 45 U.S.C. §§ 151, et seq., was the first comprehensive federal legislation specifically recognizing the right of employees to form unions and engage in collective bargaining. It originally covered only railroad employees but was amended in 1936 to cover airlines as well. The major operating components of the RLA addresses the three principal threats to labor peace:
- Representation disputes;
- Collective bargaining disputes; and
- Grievance disputes.
The attorneys and Lubin & Enoch, PC have extensive experience representing Airline Industry Unions in each of these three areas.
Lubin & Enoch, PC has represented airline industry employees in their effort to form a labor organization at their particular “carrier”. We also have counseled labor organizations through the extremely complex process of airline mergers and acquisitions and the attendant confusion that results from having two labor organizations vying to be the successor labor organization for the combined craft. Lubin & Enoch, PC has also been involved in complex litigation, commonly called “major disputes” under the RLA, involving the efforts of several vehemently anti union carriers to illegally destroy their labor organizations through efforts such as relocating and subcontracting their maintenance work and terminating high-level union officers.
Collective Bargaining Disputes
The collective bargaining process established by the RLA is the centerpiece of a statutory scheme designed to preserve labor relations harmony. Its two facets are what has been characterized by the Supreme Court as an “almost interminable” collective bargaining process, and a corollary requirement that the parties refrain from self-help during the course of collective bargaining.
While our attorneys generally do not believe it is necessary (or in most cases wise) for the union’s attorneys to be physically present at the negotiation table, we have extensive experience in drafting and reviewing proposed contact language. What is more important, Lubin & Enoch, PC is keenly aware of the fact that a contract negotiation involving a labor organization with no bargaining leverage is not really a negotiation at all. Thus, we routinely provide strategic counseling to labor organizations about the various non-traditional methods by which labor organizations can create much needed bargaining leverage vis-a-vis their employers.
Under the RLA, disputes growing out of grievances or out of the interpretation or application of agreements covering rates of pay, rules and working conditions are called “minor disputes” and they cannot provide a lawful basis for strikes or work disruptions. In the airline industry, such grievances are typically resolved by a system board of adjustment or neutral labor arbitrator. The attorneys of Lubin & Enoch, PC have conducted hundreds of labor arbitrations involving issues of contract interpretation and/or employee discipline and we are regarded as some of the preeminent attorneys in the United States involving such matters.