Friday, December 8, 2023
NMB Denial for Release
Frequently Asked Questions
As you know, the National Mediation Board (NMB) recently denied our request for a 30-day cooling-off period. This news has raised questions, and to provide clarity and transparency, we’ve compiled some of the frequently asked questions surrounding the denial.
Q1. What is the Railway Labor Act (RLA), and how is it administered?
A1: The RLA was enacted in 1926 as the joint work product of rail labor and management and expanded to include airlines in 1936.
The RLA is administered by the National Mediation Board (NMB), an independent federal agency.
Q2: Why did the NMB deny APFA’s request to be released into a 30-day cooling-off period? Did the NMB give a specific reason why the release request was denied?
A2: The NMB simply responded that a review of the record determined that a release was not appropriate at this time. They did not give a reason, but typically that would mean that they believe we are not at an impasse and more mediated sessions would be beneficial towards reaching an agreement.
Q3: What options are available to APFA after the NMB denies a release request under the RLA?
A3: APFA and American Airlines will continue negotiations as mandated by the RLA.
Q4: Why can’t we strike now if our contract ended in 2019?
A4: Workers in other industries covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) can strike after the expiration of their contracts. Airline and railroad Unions are different from other labor Unions in that collective bargaining is specifically outlined in Section 6 of the Railway Labor Act mentioned above.
Additionally, our contract didn’t technically expire in 2019; it became amendable. This means that the terms of the contract remain in place until a new collective bargaining agreement is ratified by the Membership. This differs from other industries (such as the autoworkers, UPS, etc.) where those workers are free to engage in self-help the minute their contracts expire.
Q5: How does the RLA influence the negotiation process following a denied release request for APFA?
A5: The RLA emphasizes continued negotiation between APFA and American. At this time, APFA must continue good-faith discussions with American to resolve open issues, as instructed by the NMB. The goal of the NMB is to avoid disruptions to air transportation.
Q6: Can APFA submit a new release request after a denial under the RLA?
A6: Yes. APFA can submit a new request to the NMB if we determine progress is not being made and we believe we should be released.
Q7: Would it help for Flight Attendants to reach out directly to the NMB?
A7: We need to be strategic and coordinated in our response. As we move forward, we will communicate any request for the Membership to contact the NMB or other government entity regarding a possible release.
Q8: Does the RLA impact or restrict continued informational activities (picketing, etc.) since they denied our first release request into a 30-day cooling-off period?
A8: No. APFA may continue informational activities such as picketing to keep our passengers and the media updated and engaged in our fight for contractual improvements.
Q9: Are there specific timelines APFA must follow under the RLA for submitting a new release request?
A9: No. At any time, APFA may submit another request for release. That decision will be based on progress during future mediated negotiations. Our next mediated session is scheduled for next week.
Q10: How can Flight Attendants continue to support our Negotiating Committee during continued negotiations?
A10: The most important thing that all Flight Attendants can do is stay informed and engaged. Continue to be on the lookout for upcoming days of action.
Flight Attendants are unified and ready for a contract. Management notices our unity, and any attempts to divide our Membership will fail.
Q11: Can APFA engage in any work actions during the negotiation process under the RLA?
A11: APFA must adhere to RLA guidelines, which do not permit work actions during negotiations. Union leaders will guide permissible activities, such as informational picketing, that do not disrupt airline operations.
Continue to wear your red WAR pin, red lanyard, and bag tags until we secure the contract we’ve earned.
Your APFA Negotiating Committee
Kelly J. Hagan
Joe Burns, Lead Negotiating Attorney