House Decides Congress, Not NMB, Should Set Labor Policy

The House of Representatives voted 206-220 today to defeat an amendment offered by Rep. Steve LaTourette, which would have upheld the National Mediation Board’s radical rewrite of national labor policy. The vote came during debate on H.R. 658, the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act. (The full bill just passed, 223-196.)

The amendment’s defeat means that a provision sponsored by Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) and supported by the National Association of Manufacturers remained in the bill. The section cancels out the National Mediation Board’s 2010 decision to reverse 70 years of labor policy on union elections for the airline and railroad industries.

As the NAM’s Key Vote letter against the LaTourette amendment summarized:

Unfortunately, the NMB’s 2010 final rule would recognize unions if only a simple majority of employees voting in a union representation election chose to certify the union. This change allows a minority of employees in a given class to determine union representation for all covered employees. Such an approach runs counter to decades of labor law precedent and skews the careful balance inherent in federal labor law.

In order to promote fair and equitable labor relations that protect the rights of all workers, an affirmative change – from a non-union to union workplace – should require an affirmative majority vote from those eligible to vote. Employees who choose not to participate in elections are in effect choosing not to join a union, and this should not be considered a de facto vote for union representation.

Ultimately, these sorts of major policy decisions should be made by Congress, the elected legislative branch of government, not by an appointive board. We continue to be amazed by how many elected lawmakers are happy to have the Executive Branch make law in their place.

See also news release from the Workforce Fairness Institute, “U.S. House Stands Up for Workers.”

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