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Understanding Negotiations

The first unions formed in the US over 200 years ago. Workers recognized they had more power collectively than they had individually when it came to securing improvements in wages and working conditions.


Negotiations Today: How It Works


This video explains the Railway Labor Act as well as the process of Section 6 negotiations. Please take a few minutes to watch it and share it with our fellow crewmembers.

The more we learn about the process, the more prepared we will be to engage in ACTION events designed to support our contract negotiations.

Additional Videos

Negotiations: Terminology Explained

Knowledge is Power

Contract / Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) - These terms are used interchangeably for the document that contains all the negotiated rules and provisions under which we work.

Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement (JCBA) - This term is applied to the contract under which we are currently working. It is called this because it is the product of joining the Legacy American Airlines contract and the Legacy US Airways contract into a single (joint) contract as part of the merger of the two companies. View the Current JCBA

Railway Labor Act (RLA) - The federal law the governs contract negotiations in the airline and rail industries.

Section 6 - This reference is to the specific section of the Railway Labor Act that governs the process of negotiations in the airline and rail industries.

Deadlocked - Sections with this designator indicate both parties feel like they have made all the movement they can make in the section but still have not managed to come to an agreement. Eventually, these sections will have to be resolved in order for there to be a new contract/CBA.

Current Book - This designator indicates that the parties have agreed the language in the current contract will continue to be sufficient for the new contract. This may be the outcome even though one or both parties may have initially proposed changes in the section or it may be the outcome because neither party proposed any changes to the section.

Ratification - This is the process of the members of APFA voting on whether or not to approve the new contract. After all sections/provisions of the contract have been tentatively agreed upon by the company and APFA, the final product is then submitted to the membership for a ratification vote. If the agreement is ratified (approved) by a majority of the members, it becomes the new contract. What happens if it is rejected by a majority of the members depends on what stage of the Railway Labor Act process we are in at the time.

Direct Negotiations - The initial phase of negotiations where the union and the company are passing proposals for a new contract.

Mediated Negotiations - Typically the second phase. If the parties are unable to reach agreement on a new contract in direct negotiations, either party or both may request the assistance of a mediator from the National Mediation Board (NMB). The mediator will then spend the next phase of negotiations trying to help the parties reach an agreement.

30-Day Cooling Off Period/Super-mediation - The third phase of the negotiations process. This phase is only reached if the mediated negotiations fail to produce agreement on a new contract. The NMB will then set a 30-day cooling off period. During the 30-day cooling off period, the NMB will make one final attempt to help the parties reach agreement in what is called Super-mediation.

Release into Self-help - The final step of the negotiations process under the RLA. If Super-mediation fails to produce a new agreement, then the NMB releases the parties from the process into self-help. Self-help for the union can include a strike or other measures to put pressure on the company. For the company, it can include locking out the union employees or other measures to pressure on the union to agree to a new contract.

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APFA Events

2Q22 EC Meeting

July 28 @ 9:00 am - 2:00 pm

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October 25 - October 27