The Railway Labor Act (RLA) of 1926 – governs labor relations in the air carrier industry as of 1936 – to minimize interference in interstate commerce caused by labor disputes in the mass transportations industries while insuring transportation employees’ right to engage in collective bargaining and collective action
Railway Labor Act - Full text
§ 181. Application of subchapter I to carriers by air
All of the provisions of subchapter I of this chapter except section 153 of this title are extended to and shall cover every common carrier by air engaged in interstate or foreign commerce, and every carrier by air transporting mail for or under contract with the United States Government, and every air pilot or other person who performs any work as an employee or subordinate official of such carrier or carriers, subject to its or their continuing authority to supervise and direct the manner of rendition of his service.
National Mediation Board (NMB) applies a 2-pronged test to determine whether a company fits the definition of "common carrier by air engaged in interstate or foreign commerce:
1. function test - whether the work is of a nature traditionally performed by employees of air carriers
2. control test - whether a common carrier exercises direct or indirect control over the work
NMB has jurisdiction over:
General characteristics of the RLA:
2 types of air carrier labor law cases:
1. minor disputes – grievances – disputes over interpretation and application of employment contract e.g. employee discipline
RLA requires that employment contract provide for creation of System Board of Adjustment to resolve minor disputes – minor disputes cannot be brought in front of court except in rare exceptional cases
Due process of law guarantees these rights:
2. major disputes – involve negotiation of either a new employment contract or a change to the existing contract – aka Kabuki Theater – until procedure completed RLA requires status quo be maintained
Collective bargaining agreements do not expire – they have an amendable date
Kabuki Theater procedure:
Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) – last effort to aid parties in reaching agreement without disruptions of a strike
Wildcat strikes – employees acting independently of the union – injunction compelling workers to go back to work – back to work order – if not then held in contempt of court and fined and/or imprisoned
In proceedings for reorganization of companies under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code bankruptcy judges are empowered to order modification or termination of collective bargaining agreements and often wild that power in their efforts to restructure the company to improve its chances of survival
Walden v. Fiore - specific jurisdiction - 3 part test:
1. non-resident defendant must purposefully direct his activities or consummate some transaction with the forum or a forum resident, or perform some act by which he purposefully avails himself of the privilege of conducting activities in the forum, thereby invoking the benefits and protections of its laws
2. claim must be one which arises out of or relates to non-resident defendant's forum-related activities
3. exercise of jurisdiction must comport with fair play and substantial justice (must be reasonable)
Terracom v. Valley Nat. Bank - 7 reasonableness factors
Daimler AG v. Bauman - Court nearly eliminates general jurisdiction
Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, SA v. Brown - Court nearly eliminates general jurisdiction
Williams v. MD Helicopters Inc. - Court restricts use of general jurisdiction
Brady v. Southwest Airlines Co. - both general and specific jurisdiction
Luvin v. Delta Airlines, Inc.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
A. Federal Officer removal under 28 USC 1442
Lu Junhong v. Boeing Co. - based on admiralty jurisdiction
B. Removal based on Preemption
Crown v. PHI Air Medical LLC - complete preemption
C. Fraudulent Joinder
Forum non Conveniens
A. Field Preemption
- affords the "sole basis" for obtaining jurisdiction over a foreign state in the United States - if plaintiffs fail to satisfy the terrorism exception to the FSIAthe claim requires dismissal
Xiaoyun Lu v. AirTran Airways, Inc. - 49 USC 44902(b) absolves air carriers of liability for refusal to transport to a passenger if the carrier decides the passenger is, or might be, inimical to safety
inimical: tending to obstruct or harm
Glisan v. United Airlines
A. Limitations of Actions
D'engle v. City of New York
B. Defendants subject to Convention
D. Bodily Injury
A. Proof of Defect
Crouch v. John Jewell Aircraft Inc. - challenges to qualifications or methodology of experts
A. Limitations of Actions
B. Air Traffic Control
C. Federal Employees
A. Compulsory Insurance Doctrine
B. Ripeness of Declaratory Judgment Action
C. Life Insurance
Tyre v. Southwest Airlines, Co.
C. Post-Trial Motions
A. Other Incidents
C. NTSB Reports
D. Judicial Notice
Conflict of Laws
Breach of Contract
False Claims Act
Integrative bargaining (also called "interest-based bargaining," "win-win bargaining") is a negotiation strategy in which parties collaborate to find a "win-win" solution to their dispute. This strategy focuses on developing mutually beneficial agreements based on the interests of the disputants.
Distributive bargaining is the approach to bargaining or negotiation that is used when the parties are trying to divide something up--distribute something. It contrasts with integrative bargaining in which the parties are trying to make more of something. This is most commonly explained in terms of a pie.
Case 75: Goodwin v. Ridge, 2005 WL 2176936 (E.D. Ark. 2005)
1. What is a collective-bargaining agreement (“CBA”) and how is it at issue in Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. v. Norris?
2. Since when did the Railway Labor Act apply to airlines, and what is its purpose?
3. The Railway Labor Act covers two classes of disputes – “major” and “minor.” Describe both and the process for resolving each.
4. How does the court define “grievances”?
5. The court notes that the Railway Labor Act’s “mechanism for resolving disputes does not preempt causes of action to enforce rights that are independent of the CBA.” Explain the court’s rationale and what preemption standard it establishes in this case for state law wrongful discharge claim.
1. Describe the terms of the acquisition deal by Trump Shuttle of Eastern Airlines Shuttle, e.g., value of the deal, number of airplanes, gate positions, etc. Why did Eastern Air Lines seek to sell this asset?
2. What guarantees, if any, did the October 12, 1981 Memorandum Opinion offer to Easter Shuttle employees?
3. What is “major” and “minor” dispute under the Railway Labor Act of 1926 and which dispute is at issue here? Why is the legal consequence of characterizing the dispute as major or minor?
4. Was the acquisition consistent with past agreements and practices of the airline, according to the court.
5. How does the court resolve the claim that the shuttle sale unlawfully interfered with union rights?
Sarah Nilsson, J.D., Ph.D., MAS
602 561 8665
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