Cases & Deals

ABM prevails in jurisdictional matter involving RLA and NLRA precedents

Clients ABM Industries, Inc.

Jones Day successfully represented ABM Onsite Services - West, Inc. before the D.C. Circuit, the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB"), and the National Mediation Board ("NMB") in a matter involving which federal labor law applied to its employees at the Portland, Oregon airport.

In 2017, the D.C. Circuit reversed the NLRB's earlier ruling that ABM was subject to the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") rather than the Railway Labor Act ("RLA"), holding that the NLRB had acted arbitrarily and capriciously in abandoning the prior jurisdictional test for deciding RLA jurisdictional issues and for not referring the matter to the NMB. On remand, the NLRB referred the question of whether ABM was subject to the RLA to the NMB for an advisory opinion. In a decision issued on February 26, 2018, the NMB concluded that ABM was subject to the RLA, and reaffirmed its commitment to the test it historically used in resolving such questions—a significant victory not just for ABM, but for all airline service providers. On November 14, 2018, the NLRB issued an opinion applying the traditional jurisdictional test endorsed by the NMB and affirmed that ABM is subject to the RLA.

Since these decisions, the NLRB has returned to its prior practice of referring RLA jurisdictional matters to the NMB, and the NMB has consistently applied the historical jurisdictional test successfully defended by ABM and Jones Day in these cases to a wide range of other airline service providers.

ABM Onsite Services - West, Inc. v. NLRB, Nos. 15-1299, 15-1347 (D.C. Cir.); ABM-Onsite Services, File No. CJ-7176 (NMB); ABM Onsite Services - West, Inc. and Int'l Ass'n of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, Dist. Lodge W24, Nos. 19-RC-144377, 19-CA-153164 (NLRB)

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