Tag: National Mediation Board

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.”

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)


A Key Vote Letter: Labor Policy is Congress’ Responsibility

The National Association of Manufacturers has just issued a “Key Vote” letter urging House members to vote against the LaTourette/Costello amendment to H.R. 658, the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act. The amendment would, in effect, endorse the National Mediation Board’s attempt to replace Congress as the policymaking branch of government when it comes to labor policy.

The NAM letter states:

Manufacturers are deeply concerned with efforts to implement major changes to our nation’s labor laws outside of Congress through executive branch actions. The National Mediation Board’s (NMB) decision to promulgate new rules related to union elections runs contrary to the intent of the Railway Labor Act (RLA) and is an attempt to circumvent the legislative process. We support Section 903 of H.R. 658, which would repeal the NMB’s 2010 rule.

The RLA requires a majority of all eligible employees to affirmatively choose to allow a labor union to collectively bargain on their behalf. 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. (continue reading…)

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)


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.

Coverage, commentary …

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)


Rep. Coble: Lithium Battery Regs Could Cost Manufacturing Jobs

Thanks to Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) for highlighting one of the lesser-known examples of regulatory overreach to come from the Obama Administration, the proposed rules governing air shipment of lithium-ion batteries. Rep. Coble cited the regulations during the Feb. 10 floor debate on H.Res.72, requiring House committees to review federal regulations.

Rep. Coble was discussing the rules proposed in January 2010 by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and Federal Aviation Administration, “Hazardous Materials: Transportation of Lithium Batteries.” The docket is PHMSA-2009-0095. here.

The National Association of Manufacturers has been active in the debate over battery shipments, and NAM President Jay Timmons cited the proposed rules during his testimony last week before the House Oversight Committee. In March, 2010, the NAM submitted the association’s comments to the agencies.

Rep. Coble said in his floor statement:

We have all heard the expression, Keep It Simple, Stupid, the KISS formula. Our government needs to do a better job of adhering to this phrase.

In the transportation sector, there are numerous examples where the regulatory process is burdensome and impedes private enterprise.

The Department of Transportation has regulations pending that classify lithium cells and batteries as hazardous materials. If implemented, this could create an impediment in getting batteries to consumers, the military, and government agencies. As a result, this could jeopardize manufacturing jobs in my district, jobs we cannot afford to lose.

(continue reading…)

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)


Will the Senate Allow a Federal Agency to Overturn Labor Laws?

The Senate continues to debate S.J.RES.30, the “resolution of disapproval” by Sen. Isakson (R-GA) under the Congressional Review Act to prevent the National Mediation Board (NMB) from unilaterally changing the way labor unions can be formed under the Railway Labor Act.

Sen. Isakson (R-GA) took to the Senate floor to explain why he and so many of his colleagues have found it necessary to stop yet another attempt by an Executive Branch agency to rewrite labor law. The Senator rightfully points out in his remarks on the Senate floor that this rule change by the NMB would allow the will of the few to determine whether or not an entire workforce be represented by a labor union. He also pointed out that the Railway Labor Act doesn’t provide the same type of union decertification methods available to employees under the National Labor Relations Act, the law that covers most private sector employees. In essence, this means that should the NMB’s new rule be allowed to stand, a small group of employees that are able to participate in a NMB union election would be able to allow a labor union to be the exclusive representative of employees in perpetuity.

Many opponents of the measures claim that the NMB rule is appropriate by trying to draw parallels to other elections, such as those for U.S. Senate. Well, if the same logic is applied to the Senate that would mean that voters would elect Senators for life without a real opportunity to recall their Senator. Additionally, as Sen. Isakson notes, because the resolution needs 60 votes to invoke cloture to move forward, a Senator who doesn’t participate in the vote is essentially declaring a “no” vote much like the way NMB union elections are currently handled.

Earlier this week the National Association of Manufacturers sent a letter to the Senate in support of the resolution highlighting an important point:

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.

The Senate will be voting on the resolution shortly. The Senators who support the resolution will be voting to protect the rights of employees who do not necessarily wish to have a labor union represent them before their employer. Conversely, Senators who object to the resolution will be voting to allow unelected federal officials to change the rules of union elections – a change that should only be considered by Congress.

UPDATE: (1:54pm) The Senate has answered the question that we posed earlier: “Yes, we will continue to allow the executive branch to overturn our labor laws by rewriting the rules on how a labor union is formed.” The Senate voted 43 for – 56 against the resolution earlier today. Three Democratic Senators: Lincoln (AR), Pryor (AR) and Nelson (NE) joined with 40 Republicans to support the resolution. The motion required 60 votes to move forward in the Senate. Click here for the vote breakdown.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)


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.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)


Card Check: Sen. Hatch Warns that NLRB Has Plans

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) spoke on a conference call with bloggers today, primarily on the topic of the tax increases that will hit on Jan. 1 unless Congress extends the lower rates enacted in 2001 and 2003. Among other issues that arose were the Employee Free Choice Act, the potential of a lameduck session of Congress, and President Obama’s recess appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Sen. Hatch noted that President Obama made the recess appointment before there had even been a committee hearing on Berwick’s nomination, and then, after the appointment, nominated Berwick again. Hatch obviously saw a similarity with the handling of the nomination and subsequent recess appointment of Craig Becker, an SEIU and AFL-CIO counsel, to the National Labor Relations Board. Sen. Hatch:

They’ve got people on the National Labor Relations Board right now that think they can do though regulation, by the board, that which can’t get through the Senate of the United States of America.

The Senate is not going to give them card check, it’s just that simple. So what are they going to do? They’re going to come up with an approach, or have come up with an approach, that says only those who vote count in the card-check area, or in any other area – in other words, only 51 percent of those who vote, in the whole employment complex.

Now that kind of stuff has never been done before, but they’re doing it.

When they don’t have the ability to do what’s right, they’ll do what’s wrong. And to be honest with you, it’s giving us a lot of fits.

Given the context of the conversation, we took Hatch’s “they” to be the Obama Administration and Senate Democratic allies, supported by Big Labor.

Sen. Hatch is recalling the National Mediation Board’s decision in May to allow a union to be recognized if a simple majority of workers who cast ballots approved. The decision, which applies to workers at airlines and railroads, overturned a 76-year-old rule that governed union elections. The new rules went into effect on July 1, the NMB said in a news release.

The Senator’s comments raised a realistic concern: If one regulatory and quasi-judicial agency with an Obama-appointed majority on its board can make such a radical change in longstanding law, what’s to stop the NLRB from doing the same?

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)


Labor Board Allows Will of the Few to Dictate Terms for the Many

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.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)


Learning from Experience on the Becker Nomination to NLRB

During the confirmation hearing Tuesday, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) was the chief Republican critic of Craig Becker’s nomination to the National Labor Relations Board. Becker, an associate counsel for the SEIU and the AFL-CIO, tried to assure the committee that as a board member he would not try to implement the more radical, anti-employer views expressed in his academic writings.

Isakson said, in effect, yes, we’ve heard those kind of assurances before, and we got burned. He outlined the criticism in the subsequent news release with the sub-headline, “Concerned Becker Will Use Position to Unfairly Favor Labor Unions Just as New Nominees to National Mediation Board Have Done“:

Isakson noted that pro-union members of another federal labor panel – the National Mediation Board – are also using their positions to impose pro-union rules. In 2009, the Senate confirmed two of President Obama’s nominees to the National Mediation Board only to watch them overturn 75 years of precedent by fiat just weeks after their confirmation.

“The actions of these new members of the National Mediation Board are nothing less than manipulation of the federal regulatory process to favor one special interest group,” Isakson said. “I remain concerned that Mr. Becker will follow their lead if he wins confirmation and compromise fairness to grant favors to the labor unions that currently employ him.”

Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-WY) made a similar point in his committee statement, saying there was good evidence the nominees to the National Mediation Board were not forthright before the committee:

Last year this HELP Committee confirmed 2 nominees to the NMB. Some members, including me, specifically asked each of them about their position on changing the way a majority in a unionization election is measured. In response, both of these nominees testified that they had no pre-conceived agenda to alter rules that have been in place for 75 years. Yet, practically before the ink had dried on their confirmations, these two nominees began pushing through a regulation that is a wholesale reversal of those rules to tilt the playing field to the benefit of labor unions. (continue reading…)

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)


Labor Board Proposes Changes at Big Labor’s Request

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.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)


A Manufacturing Blog

  • Categories

  • Connect With Manufacturers

            
  • Blogroll