This morning the National Mediation Board (NMB) has issued a new rule to overhaul the way labor unions are formed by employees covered by the Railway Labor Act. We are still in the process of reviewing and analyzing this meaty proposal, but it’s clear this final rule radically overhauls 75 years of established federal labor law so union organizers can organize transportation employees more easily.
As we’ve noted previously, the NMB sped through a proposed rule at the end of last year at the behest of labor leaders with scant legitimate policy justification. This proposal would allow labor organizers to create labor unions in the transportation sector without the support of the majority of workers who would be included in the union. Instead, this proposal would allow only a simple majority of employees who participate in the union representation election to form a labor union that would represent the entire bargaining unit.
Katie Packer who heads up the Workforce Fairness Institute explained the proposal: “Assuming that anyone not casting a ballot is, in fact, in favor of abdicating their own right to negotiate with their employer and allowing a union to represent them is undemocratic and deplorable.”
The NAM agrees. In January we responded to the NMB’s proposal with formal comments. We expressed concern over the impact that this disruptive approach to union representation would have on our nation’s critical transportation operations as well as the dangerous precedent that it sets for changes at other federal labor boards. Many Senators objected that President Obama’s nominees to the National Mediation Board sought to overturn federal labor laws by fiat just weeks after their confirmation hearings, where nominees vowed to go slow on any radical legal changes. This disturbing (and by appearances, duplicitous) approach to administering U.S. labor laws made several Senators uneasy during the nomination process for Craig Becker. Senators Enzi and Isakson warned that the President’s nominee for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) make seek to engage in similar efforts at the NLRB.
The manner in which this very expansive policy change was developed is highly questionable. Mike Eastman at the U.S. Chamber also highlights how the NMB ran roughshod in proposing, developing and implementing this regulation. If this change had legitimate merits, the process for which it was promulgated would have been more deliberative and allowed consideration of comments put forth by stakeholders.