Labor Board Proposes Changes at Big Labor’s Request

By November 3, 2009Labor Unions

Organized labor groups continue to seek ways to boost their membership at the expense of employees’ real choice. In September the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department (TTD) requested radical changes in the process of unionizing employees under the Railway Labor Act. Currently union representation elections allow a labor union to be certified if the majority of workers vote in support of forming a union. Seems fair, right?

Not to Big Labor.

The AFL-CIO wants to change the rules so unions could be certified through yes votes from a minority of employees. Union leaders would get to that point by counting only the employees who actually vote. An example: If there are 100 employees and only 40 vote, a majority of that 40 — 21 — could certify the union. So a minority of just 21 workers could unionize a workplace with 100 employees.

Hardly seems like the democratic process to us, and numerous previous administrations have agreed – Democrat and Republican alike.

Big Labor’s argument in response: “Just because a worker chooses not to cast a vote in a union election doesn’t mean he or she is against unionization – it just means that worker did not vote.”

Well, if that’s the case one would logically expect the AFL-CIO to also support a process making it easier to decertify if the majority of union members voting — again, quite possibly a minority of ALL employees — wanted to leave the union. Or at a minimum allow the workers who didn’t participate in the election to be exempt from obligatory union dues.

Much like the Employee Free Choice Act, the proposed changes to the National Mediation Board’s organizing procedures would create a system of unionization that’s comparable to quicksand – easy to get in, hard to get out.

Well, at least this revolutionary change followed detailed, open debate by the Mediation Board’s members, right?

Nope. Guess again.

As the Chairman of the NMB points out, two of the three members of the Board “railroaded” these proposed changes through without allowing the Chairman to have reasonable time to review and respond to the changes. Rushed through, this radical proposal was published in the Federal Register yesterday.

This is yet another example of union power grabs that are becoming all too frequent lately. Our view is an affirmative change, from a non-union to union workplace, should require an affirmative vote, an affirmative majority vote. The NAM opposes any efforts to overturn the longstanding and fair process of organizing under the National Mediation Board and will be urging the Board to protect the rights of a majority of workers to freely decide whether or not they wish to join a labor union.

Keith Smith

Keith Smith

Senior Vice President at National Association of Manufacturers
Keith Smith serves as senior vice president of public affairs and mobilization at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). He helps lead the association’s issue advocacy campaigns as well as the NAM’s national grassroots advocacy network.
Keith Smith

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