Preemption of Worker-Retention and Labor-Peace Agreements at Airports

This digest presents an overview of issues related to labor-harmony or labor-peace agreements for airport management personnel and other interested personnel, including airport authority board members or elected officials. These agreements generally require that, as a condition of operating on-airport property, an organization must become signatory to some form of an agreement with a labor organization. These matters are usually injected into the conduct of on-airport business by the sponsor, including certain contractual language in the agreements between the sponsor and the business. The digest begins with an overview of the basic foundational legal principles that underpin labor-harmony agreements and worker retention programs, including federal labor protection laws, preemption, and the proprietary rights exception. It then defines and describes the characteristics of labor-harmony agreements and worker retention programs and explains their development under—and relationship to—federal labor law. It includes specific data on unionization at airports, previous approaches used by airport employers and unions, and the implications and impacts that labor harmony has on airport operations. Sources of legal risk to airports that arise from the development and implementation of labor-harmony agreements are identified. The digest identifies and frames the relatively new approaches utilized by unions to establish or increase union membership at airports, as well as to outline the resulting legal implications of this trend. As this digest illustrates, the mechanisms for promoting unionization, particularly labor-harmony agreements and worker retention programs, are fraught with legally complicated considerations regarding the interplay between local regulation and federal labor law. Airports must consider the legal risks posed by adoption of labor-harmony agreements and worker-retention programs, the boundaries of legally permissible actions that the airport can take, and the risk of litigation from airport concessionaires, subtenants, and unions. Airports have already faced litigation in this area, and more can be expected as unions seek to broaden recruitment efforts and political clout at public airports. The interests of the airport, the municipalities in which they operate, the employees, and the airport businesses that form the backbone of airport operations do not always align. In light of this context, airports should familiarize themselves with the intricacies of labor law as applied to airports and in particular the use of labor-harmony and similar agreements. Although this digest touches upon most relevant topics, it is only an introduction designed to enable airports to more effectively address the issues in this arena as a beginning point for analysis.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Tables;
  • Pagination: 36p
  • Serial:
  • Publication flags:

    Open Access (libre)

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01642983
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 9780309446136
  • Report/Paper Numbers: ACRP Project 11-01, Topic 07-02
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Aug 2 2017 8:38AM