Railway Labor Act (RLA)

  1. established arbitration and mediation guidelines for labor-management disputes in interstate transportation industries. Because it gave a statutory basis to employees' right to organize and prohibited company interference or coercion, it has been regarded as a precursor to such important labor legislation of the 1930s as the Labor Disputes (Norris-LaGuardia) Act, the National Industrial Recovery Act, and the National Labor Relations (Wagner) Act. But the Railway Labor Act is important in its own right for having established noncompulsory bargaining as the basic framework for achieving labor settlements. A 1934 amendment extended its provisions to airlines and created the National Mediation Board, an independent federal agency empowered to handle disputes.