Washington Law Review


The National Labor Relations Act exempts all persons subject to the Railway Labor Act (RLA) from its jurisdiction. As a result, for over fifty years the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has referred challenges to its jurisdiction based on the RLA to the National Mediation Board, the RLA's administering agency. In 1995, however, the NLRB's decisions in Federal Express Corp. and United Parcel Service, Inc. cast doubt on this policy. Even though the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia then affirmed the NLRB's decision in United Parcel Service, the question of whether the NLRB has the authority to decide questions of RLA jurisdiction is still an open one. This Comment traces the treatment of this problem by both the NLRB and federal courts and identifies the analytical shortcomings in each of these decisions as they relate to the question of who has authority to determine jurisdiction between the NLRB and the Mediation Board. Based on these shortcomings, this Comment concludes that the NLRB should refer all arguable claims of RLA jurisdiction to the Mediation Board for an initial determination.

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