Senator Seeks to Stop Unilateral Changes to Labor Law

Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) in May introduced a “Resolution of Disapproval” under the Congressional Review Act to prohibit the National Mediation Board from radically changing the process through which labor unions are formed. As we expect the proposal will come up for consideration this week, the National Association of Manufacturers has sent a letter (available here) to all Senators in support of the resolution of disapproval.

Members of the National Mediation Board (NMB) rushed through a proposal earlier in 2009 that would create sweeping changes on how labor unions are formed under the Railway Labor Act, the law that covers employees in many transportation sectors. The rule, which the NAM responded to in December 2009, would allow a small portion of employees who choose to participate in the union representation election to dictate whether or not all employees must be represented by a labor union. For decades the Railway Labor Act required that a majority of all employees vote affirmatively in support of certifying a labor union to be sole representative for national collective bargaining with their employers. This new rule, finalized by the NMB, permits a simple majority of just the employees who participated in the elections to dictate the union status for all employees. As we argue in our letter, to effectively represent employees the NMB must continue to require a majority vote of all employees.

More importantly, this attempt by the NMB to rewrite labor laws outside of the board’s statutory authority demonstrates yet another attempt by the Obama Administration to circumvent Congress as the policymaking branch of government. The NAM’s letter to the Senate makes the case:

The Senate should disapprove this rule by supporting S.J.RES. 30, as it would harm positive employee relations and sets a disturbing precedent for other federal labor boards like the National Labor Relations Board. More importantly, we believe the NMB is circumventing the proper role of Congress in setting our nation’s labor laws on a level playing field to protect the rights of those who wish to be represented by a labor union and those who do not.

As manufacturers face tremendous amounts of uncertainty in these challenging economic times, Congress should not allow a federal agency to issue regulations that harm manufacturers’ ability to create and retain jobs.

Such policy changes require legislation and can only be enacted by Congress. As the Senate prepares to consider this resolution we urge all Senators vote for S.J.RES.30 to stop attempts by Executive Agencies to enact elements of labor leaders’ agenda by fiat.

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