Restore Precedent, Representation to Transportation Union Votes

The major piece of legislation on the House floor today is H.R. 658, FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act. The entire bill is important to manufacturers, and we’re also paying to several amendments and issues that will be debated. (House floor schedule.)

One of the most important issues deals with the National Mediation Board and the unnecessary and provocative change the NMB made last year to rules for union representation votes in the railroad and airline industries. The board overturned 70 years for of precedent to rule that a majority of workers voting — which could be a small minority of the eligible employees — was enough to create a union.

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) has been a real leader in trying to reverse the NMB’s overreach. Big Labor shouted hurrah, of course, but the board enacted a major change in labor policy. In the U.S. system of government policy decision like that belong to the legislative branch, that is, Congress.

Gingrey wrote a post in NRO’s The Corner Wednesday that explained the issue. From “Are Workers Choosing Unions, or Are Unions Choosing Them?“:

To allow the fate of the majority of workers to be decided by only a small handful is not only undemocratic — it fails to protect private-industry workers at a time when they need it the most.

Not only does this new rule disregard a fair and democratic precedent that’s been maintained in the industry for 75 years, it does so in the face of an American public fed up with regulatory agencies’ infringing upon private industry. In a time when our country is clearly calling for less intrusion on free enterprise in order to stimulate our weak economy and create more jobs, why should union bosses be allowed to unfairly take control of more industries for their own political incentives?

What’s more appalling is the argument that reinstating the 75-year-old democratic rule somehow hinders union organization. To the contrary, union representation has been the result in more than two-thirds of the 1,850 elections reported since 1935. An average of 72 percent of employees in these industries are represented by unions.

Rep. Gingrey’s provision to overturn the NMB’s favor to Big Labor is included as Sec. 903 in what’s called the Manager’s Amendment to the FAA Reauthorization.  Unfortunately, Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) and Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL) have sponsored their own amendment to strip the language from the bill. The House should defeat the LaTourette/Costello amendment.

President Obama has threatened to veto the entire bill if the provision survives. Big Labor only represents 7 percent or so of the private sector, but its influence is mighty indeed in the White House.

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