What is the history and focus of the RLA?

Expert Answers
dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

With the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869 many of the smaller rail lines began to lay track in an effort to cross the nation. The end result was that the U.S. was connected by rail in almost every direction and the major stockholders in the companies became extremely wealthy. Men like Vanderbuilt, Carnegie, Frick and Morgan were among the most powerful men in the country. Unfortunately they were more concerned about profits than they were about safety or the well being of their employees. The RLA has its roots in the National Railroad strike of 1877 and the Pullman strike in 1894 because it was these two strikes that were severely noticed by the federal government. Early attempts to deal with labor relations were legislated in the Erdman Act 1898 and the Adamson Act 1916 but had limited success. Moreover, by WWI it was clear that the relationship between employer and employee had almost completely disintegrated. In order to find common ground the RLA was legislated in 1926 with both sides agreeing to discuss their differences in a civilized and hopefully non-violent manner.