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Airline Contract Negotiations

            Airline labor negotiations take on average 1.3 years to conclude and about half of them go into Federal Mediation; much of the variance in the duration of the negotiations can be attributed to which particular airlines and unions are bargaining, not economic conditions. (Nordenflycht & Kochan, 2003) Recent studies have shown that contract negotiations within the airlines are directly correlated with the labor management relationship, airline productivity, customer service, and profitability. In Airline negotiations the companies follow regulations through the railway act that was adopted in 1933. The railway act proposes no expiration dates of work labor contracts. They use a process called amendable dates. Amendable dates enable a contract to remain in effect until a new contract can be negotiated between the airline and their unions. If an agreement cannot take place between the two entities the Federal Mediation board must take action within the negotiations process. If an agreement cannot be reached through arbitration and the two entities still do not agree, then a 30-day cooling period takes place and the original contract remains in effect. This process is repeated one more time and if the entities still do not reach agreement another 30-day cooling period takes place where the union and companies can use “self help,” to sway the contract within their favors. (Nordenflycht & Kochan, 2003)  Example: Strikes against the airlines, Legal guidance in dealing with the unions, etc. If the self help process does not work, there is a possibility that the Presidential Emergency Board becomes involved to delegate contracts between the airlines and unions. If no agreement can be reached the President can send the case to Congress for litigation.