Labor Laws, Unionization, and the Workplace
A good place to start familiarizing yourself with legal issues involving unions in the workplace is by looking over the National Labor Relations Board website, http://www.nlrb.gov/nlrb-process
Be sure you are familiar with the following laws (as amended):
Labor Management Reporting & Disclosure Act (a brief overview can be found here)
National Labor Relations Act (for another starting overview click here)
Labor Management Relations Act or Taft-Hartley Act (amended the NLRA) (for a very brief introductory overview click here)
Railway Labor Act (for a brief overview click here)
After you have reviewed the above laws, please read the following editorial concerning labor unrest at American Airlines.
Not Just Public Unions: Private Sector Unions Hurting Business
By Stephen DeMaura
Aug 13, 2012
Once again, big labor has shown that it can’t play nice. On Wednesday, American Airlines’ Allied Pilots Association (ALPA) rejected a concessionary contract offered by management. The contract included pay raises and a 13.5 percent stake in the company, but that apparently was not enough.
Companies across the country have been forced to tighten their belts as profit margins disappeared during the recession, yet union workers have largely escaped any impact on their pay or benefits – even if that meant the company they worked for was put at a competitive disadvantage or even forced into bankruptcy.
This is nothing new—routinely, across all industries we have seen unions fight tooth and nail for implausible contracts, while scoffing at those deemed reasonable by most everyone but themselves. In Chicago, for example, Hyatt employees refused to accept the same terms as their counterparts at Hilton and Starwood, staging a weeklong strike in order to strong-arm their employer into making a deal that, frankly, didn’t make economic sense. Because of the significant amount of power union bosses have obtained, if Hyatt’s employees can’t compete, then Hyatt will be forced to disappear – and their employees will wish they had their jobs back.
It is no wonder why America’s support for unions is dissolving. According to a September 2011 survey by Gallup, 42 percent of Americans – an all-time high – want unions to have less influence. Moreover, most Americans believe union bosses look out for their own, but think labor unions do damage to the U.S. economy and actually hurt other workers who are not union members.
Currently, American Airline’s labor cost represents 28 percent of its revenue—the highest of any major carrier, and consequently American pays approximately $600 million more in wages than its competitors do. These figures capture the extreme competitive disadvantage American’s current labor contracts are responsible for. Other carriers have gone bankrupt and renegotiated contracts that are mutually beneficial to both labor and management. Having never gone bankrupt, American has held out as long as it could, and the carrier cannot move forward with its present labor cost structure.
The day after ALPA rejected the deal, the group’s president David Bates, considered by many to be an agreeable and pragmatic leader, was forced to resign because he had supported the deal that 61 percent of his pilots opposed. Bates felt that American Airline’s offer was the best possible option, and he appears to be right. After the vote, American requested that a federal bankruptcy judge allow it to revert to the contract terms of an April offer, which included smaller pay raises and no stake in the company.
Over the last three years, thousands of companies have been forced to freeze wages or reduce benefits – not because they wanted to, but because the economy dictated that they had to. Those companies with union employees have not been allowed that flexibility and it’s bankrupting America. It’s time for the ALPA and big labor to face America’s economic reality and make the concessions (i.e., smaller pay increases) that are necessary to keep America running.
—-Source: DeMaura, Stephen. (August 13, 2012). Not just public unions: private sector unions hurting business. Retrieved August 31, 2012, from http://townhall.com/columnists/stephendemaura/2012/08/13/not_just_public_unions_private_sector_unions_hurting_business/page/full/
American Air pilots’ union: no strike unless it is legal
(Reuters) – Pilots at American Airlines will not go on strike unless it is legal to do so, the president of the pilots’ union said on Thursday.
The Allied Pilots Association had said last week it was making preparations to call a strike vote should American implement harsh new work terms on pilots. The carrier has been operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since late last year.
Keith Wilson, who was named to head the pilots’ union earlier this month after his predecessor resigned, said on Thursday that while the union is exploring legal options, it would be difficult to stage a walkout while American, a unit of AMR Corp, is in bankruptcy.
“We will not strike unless we are legally allowed to strike,” Wilson told a media briefing at the union’s Fort Worth, Texas, headquarters.
A hearing on a second American Airlines request to void the carrier’s collective bargaining agreements with the pilots’ union is scheduled for Sept 4.
The union is the only major work group at American that has not agreed on a contract offer with concessions since the carrier filed for bankruptcy. Pilots rejected a last and best offer from American on August 8. Should a bankruptcy judge allow the carrier to scrap its current contracts with the pilots’ union, American could implement new work terms that are harsher as it looks to save labor costs.
Wilson said his union hoped to reach a consensual agreement on a contract with the carrier.
(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; editing by Matthew Lewis)
—-Source: American Air pilots’ union: no strike unless it is legal. (August 30, 2012). Retrieved August 31, 2012, from http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/30/us-americanairlines-pilots-idUSBRE87T14O20120830
Give a brief summary of the current state of union relations in the airlines industry in the U.S. Then, please answer the following in your well organized 4-5 page paper:
If Mr. DeMaura is correct in his editorial, why would the American Airlines’ Allied Pilots Association (ALPA) risk the future of American Airlines with their union demands?
Using additional research about unionization in the U.S. airline industry, and American Airlines in particular, update where we are today with American’s situation. How do the recent updates that you have found affect American Airlines employees? Are other U.S. airlines also in jeopardy because of labor demands?
In your educated opinion (supported by your research) are changes needed in labor laws in the U.S. to help stop unions from hurting business?
Please upload your paper to CourseNet. Paper length: 4-5 pages, not counting cover and reference pages.
Your paper should demonstrate your understanding of the current labor conditions in the airlines industry, and at American Airlines in particular. Your paper should demonstrate critical thinking and analysis of the relevant issues, drawing upon your background reading and research.
Complement your Internet searching with library searches and be sure to bring in information from the background readings.
Information Literacy: Evaluate resources and select only library/web-based resources that provide reliable, substantiated information.
Give authors credit for their work. Cite sources of borrowed information in the body of your text as footnotes, numbered end notes or APA style of referencing.
Prepare a paper that is professionally presented (including a cover page, a “List of References,” headings/subheadings, and a strong introduction and conclusion). Proofread carefully for grammar, spelling and word-usage errors.
Labor Laws, Unionization, and the Workplace