This report discusses labor-management relations at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the 2006 implementation of a new labor contract on air traffic controllers. The FAA's ability to implement the new contract with its controllers was arguably supported by a mediation procedure prescribed by federal law. This report provides background information on the mediation procedure, discusses litigation involving the FAA and two labor organizations, and examines legislative attempts to amend the existing system.
In Wright v. Universal Maritime Service Corp., the U.S. Supreme Court found that a mandatory arbitration clause in a collective bargaining agreement was not enforceable because it failed to specify arbitration as the covered employees' sole method of obtaining relief for their statutory claims. Without such explicit language in the agreement, the union could not have made a "clear and unmistakable waiver" of the employees' rights to a judicial forum. Although the Court identified a "clear and unmistakable waiver" standard for determining whether a mandatory arbitration agreement could be enforced, it refrained from deciding whether a union could actually bargain for such a waiver