Railway Labor Act, Fourth Edition, with 2017 Supplement

This resource on the structure and case law of the Railway Labor Act (RLA) incorporates the perspectives of management, union, and neutrals. It includes vital background on the federal labor law of railways and airlines and references to more than 1,200 cases and is designed to maximize the effectiveness of negotiators or advocates.





For representation disputes, major disputes, statutory disputes, and collective bargaining

Meticulously researched and written by leading practitioners, The Railway Labor Act helps characterize the nature of union-management disputes and identifies how to pursue party interests. Incorporating the perspectives of management, union, and neutrals into one authoritative text, and with references to more than 1,200 cases, the text of the RLA, and the National Mediation Board (NMB) Rules and Manual, The Railway Labor Act is the definitive resource in this field.

Its comprehensive coverage includes the statutory rights and obligations that exist when employees do not have a collective bargaining representative; the process of obtaining representation rights under the RLA; the distinction between, and the resolution of, major and minor disputes once a collective bargaining relationship has been established; the collective bargaining process under the RLA; the extent of the RLA’s status quo obligations and its limitations on the exercise of economic self-help and changes to terms and conditions of employment; and the relationship among the RLA and other federal and state statutes, regulations, and common law causes of action.

Highlights of the Fourth Edition include: 

  • Examination of recent changes to the RLA and the NMB Representation Manual
  • Discussion of recent developments with respect to the impact of corporate transactions on employee representation and seniority, as courts wrestle with issues relating to the McCaskill-Bond seniority integration provisions
  • Updated case law regarding the distinction between major and minor disputes under the RLA, and the critical issue of the extent of the obligations of the parties to maintain the status quo


  • Chapter 1. Introduction to the Railway Labor Act
  • Chapter 2. Historical Background of the Railway Labor Act
  • Chapter 3. Scope of Coverage of the Railway Labor Act
  • Chapter 4. Selecting a Bargaining Representative
  • Chapter 5. Judicial Protection of Employee RLA Rights
  • Chapter 6. Negotiation of Collective Bargaining Agreements
  • Chapter 7. Enforcement of Collective Bargaining Agreements
  • Chapter 8. Exercise of Economic Weapons
  • Chapter 9. Accommodating the RLA and Other Laws
  • Chapter 10. Changes in Corporate Structure: Effects on Representation and Collective Bargaining
  • Appendices
  • Table of Cases
  • Index


The 2017 Supplement updates the Fourth Edition through March 2017, with analysis of topics including:

  • negotiation and enforcement of collective bargaining agreements
  • preemption of state law claims including breach of contract
  • wrongful discharge, and wage and hour claims
  • preclusion of federal law claims, and more.


Bloomberg BNA authors and editors are practicing professionals with insider perspectives and real-life experience. Learn more about this book’s authors and editors.

Douglas W. Hall is a partner at Jones Day, Washington, DC, where he concentrates his practice on representing employers in labor and employment matters with a specific focus on the airline industry and the Railway Labor Act.


Michael L. Winston is a partner at Cohen, Weiss and Simon LLP, New York, NY, where he represents private and public sector labor unions in a wide range of matters.



View full tables of contents and read the book’s preface or introduction.