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Historically, unions have played a significant role in the airline industry. Representing the interest of most 'daily' operations workers (Pilots, Flight Attendants, Mechanics, Customer Service...

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Historically, unions have played a significant role in the airline industry. Representing the interest of most 'daily' operations workers (Pilots, Flight Attendants, Mechanics, Customer Service Representatives, Baggage Handlers, etc.). As an employee, you pay 'membership dues' to the union and, in turn, represent and protect your rights as an employee.

Workgroups represented by a union have a contract, otherwise known as a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The CBA very specifically addresses all aspects of employment; some examples:

  • Wages

  • Work Rules

  • Benefits

  • Discipline

  • Furlough & Strike

  • Scope (who can fly under your 'tail')

CBAs have a specified length of time, at which point they become amendable; once amendable, unions and management then start negotiating a new contract.

Negotiations occur under legislation known as The Railway Labor Act (RLA). Established in 1926, the RLA governs the processes of handling labor disputes. It was initially established to counteract the notoriously disruptive labor disputes that plagued the railroad industry, a critical component of the national economy at the time. As airlines became more prevalent in the 1930s, beginning with the carriage of mail, they were added to the legislation (1936).

The regulatory framework created by the RLA ensures unions and management negotiate in 'good faith' and provides processes that must be followed if negotiations break down on either side.

Southwest Airlines just recently 'ratified' their contract almost four years after it had expired. At one point, negotiations broke down to the point that union members, following the RLA process, had voted to strike. The decision to authorize a strike was not taken lightly and

does not

mean a strike will occur; it just means the membership has authorized the union to do so and is another step in the RLA process. Before an actual strike can occur, several other steps must take place, including a Presidential Emergency Board review. Even if a strike does happen, ultimately, congress has the power to end the strike for the greater good of society.

The RLA is unique to transportation industries and different than the strike that the California Faculty Association took.

For this discussion, I want you to listen to this podcast [

How the US Unions Took Flight]

Links to an external site. XXXXXXXXXX/how-us-unions-took-flight
about the 'beginning' of airline unions and answer the following questions:

  • Do you think the RLA is outdated? Looking at other countries that don't operate under the RLA, causing transportation disruptions, do you think creating operational stability within the transportation sector is necessary?

  • Do you think unions are necessary? Why or why not?

  • As contract negotiations drag on, it often comes at the expense of employee morale. Discuss how you think this affects safety - the number one goal in aviation.

Answered Same Day Mar 04, 2024


Shubham answered on Mar 04 2024
9 Votes
This requires considering challenges and intricacies of transportation sector, RLA has played an important role in preventing widespread disruptions. It focuses on negotiating in good faith and prescribed processes to disputes for ensuring systematic approach. The dynamic nature of industries and evolving landscape can consider that RLA could benefit from updates to address contemporary issues (Kaspers et al. 2019). It includes looking at countries without similar regulatory mechanism and the transportation disruptions occur frequently. It becomes evident to maintaining operational stability in transportation sector that is important. Disruptions can lead to...

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