There are several core components involved with labor relations in all industries, not just the aerospace industry that have common aspects. The Railway Labor Act (RLA) of 1926 was the first law that guaranteed workers the right to organize and join unions and appoint their own leaders/representatives without the influence of the employer. President Calvin Coolidge felt this was necessary due to the volatile and often violent clashes between the railway workers and their employers/US Government which often resulted in the slowing or stoppage of interstate transportation and commerce, which was an essential means of revenue and growth for the United States at that time.
One major component of unions and labor relations is the Collective Bargaining Process.
This process, also promoted by the RLA, encouraged employers and employees to identify differences and negotiate a solution to minimize work stoppages, which in the transportation industry can disrupt commerce. Through fair and clear negotiations, amicable terms are more likely met and achieved, resulting in a normal resume to operations.
Another core component of unions and labor relations is the workers’ ability to strike.
The threat of a strike can be a valuable tool for workers, one of the few tools they have to their advantage.
If amicable terms cannot be met, the threat of a strike can often bring employers back to the table to seek a resolution acceptable by all parties. If a solution is not met, a strike may be initiated, which can cripple or halt operations. In the event this happens, many companies have contingency plans in place to continue either partial or full operations until the normal workforce resumes. In my personal experience, salary employees must keep an up-to-date list of their trade skills so that in the event of a strike, we can be reallocated to the production floor to keep the line moving.
The last time that this contingency was used, the salaried workforce, when placed in the hourly positions, actually increased production, reduced defects, and cleared backlogs of overdue work.
This benefitted the employer, who was able to relax negotiations and even delay the return of the union workforce.
Another example where employees striking did not meet their intent was on August 5, 1981, when President Reagan fired more than 11,000 striking Air traffic Controllers for failing to adhere to an executive order that required them to return to work because of the massive disruption their strike had on aircraft operations (more than 7,000 flights were canceled the first day). The strike only lasted two days before President Reagan began firing Controllers.
Comment on Discussion
This post has provided the author with insights into the history of the RLA, the collective bargaining process, and the dangers of striking. While intended to assist unions and establish a formal negotiation process, the law has failed at its purpose of minimizing work stoppages as strikes continue to exist (There are several core components, 2020). With that said, employers have also adapted, finding measures to counteract strikes and continue operations. These methods also provide them with a powerful position in negotiations, as they are not as affected by the strike as the workers intend. In their final project, the author will consider this difference in power when discussing different stakeholders, such as unions and management.
There are several core components involved with labor relations in all industries, not just the aerospace industry, that have common aspects. (2020). Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Web.