Labor Contract Negotiations in the Airline Industry: Airline Labor Negotiations Take 1.3 Years, on Average, to Conclude, and about Half Go into Federal Mediation; Much of the Variance in the Duration of Negotiations Can Be Attributed to Which Particular Airlines and Unions Are Bargaining, Not to Economic Conditions

By von Nordenflycht, Andrew; Kochan, Thomas A. | Monthly Labor Review, July 2003 | Go to article overview

Labor Contract Negotiations in the Airline Industry: Airline Labor Negotiations Take 1.3 Years, on Average, to Conclude, and about Half Go into Federal Mediation; Much of the Variance in the Duration of Negotiations Can Be Attributed to Which Particular Airlines and Unions Are Bargaining, Not to Economic Conditions


von Nordenflycht, Andrew, Kochan, Thomas A., Monthly Labor Review


In the wake of a sizable slump in demand driven y the confluence of economic downturn, terrorism, war, and disease, as well as increased competition from low-cost carriers, many incumbent U.S. airlines have been attempting a fundamental restructuring of their operations. Arguably, a central element in this restructuring involves labor contract negotiations. Yet, even before the events of September 11, 2001, observers perceived strains in the industry's labor relations system, claiming that contracts were taking longer to negotiate, rank-and-file rejections of tentative agreements were more frequent, and job actions were on the rise. Not surprisingly, then, calls for reform of the Railway Labor Act--the law that has governed airline collective bargaining since 1933--have gained momentum.

Recent work has demonstrated that carrier-level differences in the duration of contract negotiations are associated with the quality of the labor-management relationship and, consequently, with airline productivity, customer service, and profitability. (1) Although the mechanisms of cause and effect are complex, changes in the regulatory framework could enhance the industry's productivity and level of service. However, debate on reforming the Act has been based largely on anecdotal evidence regarding the duration of contract negotiations and the sources of variance in that duration. To date, there has been no systematic analysis of the actual length of time required to reach agreements in airline labor negotiations and only limited published information on how airline labor disputes are actually resolved.

This article presents and analyzes data on contract negotiations between the Nation's largest air carriers and unions from 1982 through 2002. Descriptive statistics are given on the average duration of contract negotiations and the relative frequency of mediation and work stoppages; these averages are compared against National Labor Relations Act averages; and the effect of industry-and carrier-level factors that might be expected to account for variation in the duration of negotiations across carriers and over time is analyzed.

The first finding to come out of the analysis is that airline labor negotiations do take a considerable amount of time, particularly in relation to contracts negotiated under the National Labor Relations Act, and that reliance on Federal intervention is high. Further, the duration of negotiations and the reliance on Federal mediation have increased over time. The second finding is that higher carrier or industry growth rates may be associated with longer negotiations, but that the financial condition of the carrier does not correlate with the duration of negotiations. The third and final finding is that much of the variance in the duration of negotiations can be attributed to the specific identity of the airlines and unions involved in bargaining. Thus, the time required to negotiate airline labor contracts is not determined by the regulatory regime or by economic conditions nearly so much as it is by the relationship between, and practices of, particular organizations.

The article begins with a background description of the regulatory framework surrounding airline labor relations.

Background

The Railway Labor Act has a number of features that distinguish negotiations and dispute resolution in airlines (and railroads) from negotiations governed by the National Labor Relations Act. The regulatory "exception" for airlines and railroads is intended to minimize the potential for disruption of the Nation's transportation system through work stoppages. This section gives an overview of the negotiations process under the Act.

A key difference in the Railway Labor Act is that contracts do not have fixed expiration dates. Instead, they have "amendable" dates. After the amendable date, the provisions of the existing contract remain in effect until the parties reach a new agreement. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Labor Contract Negotiations in the Airline Industry: Airline Labor Negotiations Take 1.3 Years, on Average, to Conclude, and about Half Go into Federal Mediation; Much of the Variance in the Duration of Negotiations Can Be Attributed to Which Particular Airlines and Unions Are Bargaining, Not to Economic Conditions
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.