Boards for Rail and Air Carriers
...except Commuter Rail Carriers
The President may create an emergency board to investigate and report on a dispute over the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. Under the Railway Labor Act, the President may exercise his discretion to create an emergency board when the labor dispute threatens "substantially to interrupt interstate commerce to a degree such as to deprive any section of the country of essential transportation service."
Creation of an emergency board delays a strike, lockout or other form of self-help, generally for 60 days. The emergency board has 30 days to issue its report. Generally, emergency boards provide recommendations for settlement of the dispute. After the emergency board reports to the President, the parties to the dispute have another 30 day cooling off period to consider the recommendations of the emergency board and to reach an agreement.
If no agreement is reached at the end of the cooling off period, then the parties may engage in self-help, including strikes, lockouts and unilateral changes in terms and conditions of employment.