The Railway Labor Act, as enacted and enforced applies to all transportation companies be they railroad, motor transport, airline, etc. Therefore, it is indeed relevant to this discussion. The Railway Labor Act was enacted in the 1890s as a reaction to the Pullman Strike of 1893. George Mortimer Pullman, founder of the Pullman Palace Car Company had established Pullman, Illinois as a model company town for his workers at the Pullman Palace Car construction plant. Pullman workers were paid a decent living wage but in return had to pay Pullman rent. This was done to achieve a certain percentage of return to Pullman's investors.
What precipitated the Pullman Strike was the Panic of 1893. Demand for Pullman cars and the sleeping car travel market dried up and Pullman, in order to maintain the rate of return for his investors, reduced wages but refused to lower the rent. Outraged, Pullman's workers went on strike. The railroad unions, sympathetic to the plight of the Pullman workers, refused to handle trains carrying Pullman built or Pullman operated cars. When railroad management ordered the train and enginemen to run the trains, they walked out. The net result was that the nation ground to a total halt (imagine Sept. 11th multiplied two hundred times). Goods and passengers were left stranded and widespread violence broke out in the industrial centers. The value of property destroyed is uncalculable as hundreds of rail cars and locomotives were destroyed and hundreds of people lost their lives. Scab workers brought in by management to run the trains were pulled off the trains and beaten, if not killed. Only after the operations of the United States Postal Service were severely disrupted did the federal government intervene, sending in the Army to see that mail trains were not molested.
Because of this tragic event, the Railway Labor Act was established. It entails mandatory arbitration and cooling off periods before a strike can be commenced. It also gives the President of the United States authority to order strikers back to work while the union and management continue to negotiate. Furthermore, it outlaws sympathy strikes by other unions. Love them or hate them, unions are here to stay. After my time working on the railroad, I have found that while some unions may have outlived their usefulness, others are still doing very important work protecting the interests of their members.
At any rate, being a scab is not something I would encourage. As said before, it's a good way to get yourself beaten up, if not killed. Back in the 1960s, a major strike happened on the Florida East Coast Railway. Trains run by scab workers were routinely shot at and a couple were dynamited as the trains passed over bridges, killing and and seriously injuring the crews. The perpetrators were eventually caught and sent to federal prison, but this gives you a good idea of what some union men will do. I would never cross the line and those that do do it at their own peril.
"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."