-By Warner Todd Huston
Last September the Senate refused to reverse a rules change made out of pocket by Obama’s National Mediation Board. The rule change reversed a 75-year-old practice and made it possible to unionize a company even if less than half of its employees wanted to be unionized.
Previous to the rules change, any company in the transportation industry (rail, airlines, etc.) that had employees wanting to unionize had to count 51% or more of its employees voting in favor of the union. It seems only natural, after all, that a union should not be able to force itself on employees unless the majority wills it, right? As it happens the union stacked NMB summarily changed the rules so that a company could become unionized by a majority of those voting at the time instead of a majority of a company’s employees. That means if a company has 100 employees but only forty were present at the vote, then only 21 employees voting yes would force a union on all of them.
This is particularly galling where it concerns, say, airline attendants, for instance. After all, it is practically impossible to get all the attendants in the same room at the same time due to the fact that their jobs take them all across the country. The rules change would take away the vote of large numbers of employees that weren’t able to make a particular vote and would simply assume any employee not present is essentially voting in favor of the union.
“It drastically changes a basic principle that a majority of workers are required to change the work status of a place of employment,” says Katie Gage.
But there is good news. This rule change may about to be overturned by the new GOP controlled House.
But today, there is some reason for hope that common sense will prevail in matters affecting airline and railway workers. The FAA Reauthorization legislation that will be marked up in the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee this Wednesday includes a provision to repeal the National Mediation Board enforced and union promoted voting rule change from last year. This revocation will ensure that a majority of a workforce must vote in favor of union representation the way they have for nearly one hundred years. The bill also directs the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation and the U.S. Comptroller General to evaluate the NMB’s activities and programs.
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R, Fla.) is leading this effort to repeal the rule change under the Railway Labor Act.
In addition, Representative Phil Gingrey from Georgia has introduced H.R. 548 named the Restoring Democracy in the Workplace Act, legislation which would repeal the rule promulgated by the National Mediation Board.
Gage notes that not long ago President Obama claimed that he wanted to get rid of business-killing regulations. She points out that this is the perfect opportunity for him to prove his intentions.
But since he’s the one that stacked the NMB with union hacks in the first place, my guess is that he’ll do his best to torpedo Mica and Gingrey’s efforts. In fact, Obama’s entire administration is geared to increase regulations, not eliminate them. He’s put union hacks in nearly every office of the Department of Labor. It is doubtful that any of them will be much interested in cutting jobs-killing regulations.