Since the passage of the Railway Labor Act, Congress has intervened 18 times in railway labor negotiations, each time to prevent a strike. Congressional intervention generally occurs only after the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) process is complete, which is the final remedy under the Railway Labor Act. Congressional authority to intervene is derived from the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Intervention has taken many forms from status-quo extensions to binding arbitration and the establishment of special boards and panels to develop and implement recommendations.
October 1994: SOO Line only – Voluntary agreement reached within 4 month status quo extension imposed by Congress (P.L. 103-380).
June 1992: the National Labor Railroad Conference (NLRC) which represents the majority of freight railroads and Amtrak. – Last major national strike, which lasted from June 24-26. Congress created a special multi-step process. Agreements reached between parties either before or after arbitration (P.L. 102-306).
April 1991: April 1991: NRLC (all major railroads) – Congress appointed a special board with the power to impose binding terms, board terms were imposed. This was the last time Congress imposed terms on rail unions (P.L. 102-29).
September 1988: Chicago and Northwestern only – Congress imposed PEB recommendations with unresolved implementation issues sent to binding arbitration (P.L. 100-429).
August 1988: Chicago and Northwestern only – Status quo extension imposed by Congress (P.L. 100-380).
January 1987: Long Island Railroad only – Congress directed National Mediation Board to appoint a board to make findings of fact and recommendations (P.L. 100-2).
September 1986: Maine Central only – Congress Imposed PEB recommendations as recommended by Congressional Advisory Board, unresolved implementation issues arbitrated (P.L. 99-431).
August 1986: Maine Central only – Congress appointed a Congressional Advisory Board to make findings of fact and recommendations (P.L. 99-385).
September 1982: NRLC (all major railroads) – Congress imposed PEB recommendations (P.L. 97-262).
February 1973: Penn Central only – Status quo extension, Secretaries of Labor and Transportation directed to file a report with recommendations (P.L. 93-5).
May 1971: NRLC East, West, and SE Conferences (most major railroads) – Secretary of Labor directed to file a report with recommendations, Congress imposed pay increases and urged living quarters situation be improved (P.L. 92-17).
December 1970: NRLC East, West, and SE Conferences (most major railroads) – Status quo extension and required the President issue a report with recommendations, imposed two pay increases (P.L. 91-541).
April 1970: NRLC (all major railroads) – Congress imposed terms of an unratified agreement on the sole union that failed to ratify (P.L. 91-226).
March 1970: NRLC (all major railroads) – Status quo extension (P.L. 91-203).
July 1967: NRLC (all major railroads) – Congress created a Special Mediation Board to mediate and hold public hearings on the Special Mediation Panel’s proposal and make any modifications deemed necessary. The Special Mediation Panel’s proposal as modified then became final (P.L. 90-54).
May 1967: NRLC (all major railroads) – Status quo extension (P.L. 90-13).
April 1967: NRLC (all major railroads) – Congress extends status quo period and directs the President to appoint a Special Mediation Panel that offers mandatory assistance and proposes a resolution (P.L. 90-10).
August 1963: NRLC East, West, and SE Conferences (most major railroads) – Congress imposes binding arbitration after failure to finalize voluntary arbitration (P.L. 88-108).