Section 6 of the Railway Labor Act (RLA) lays out the legal rules and procedures for collective bargaining for workers in the airline and railroad industries. Under the RLA collective bargaining agreements never expire, they become amendable on the date specified in the Duration section of the Contract. The term “amendable” simply means: at the date specified, the Union and the Company can serve notice to each other of their intent to negotiate changes to the terms. The current terms of the Contract – which are known as the “status quo” – stay in place during the negotiations process.
Importantly, rather than having the right to strike immediately upon a Contract expiration date, since RLA negotiated Contracts do not expire, workers under the RLA have the right to strike only if the established procedures for mediation and a 30 Day Cooling Off Period are exhausted without reaching agreement on a new Tentative Agreement.