NMB Archives - Shopfloor

House Decides Congress, Not NMB, Should Set Labor Policy

By | General, Labor Unions, Transportation | No Comments

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.”

A Key Vote Letter: Labor Policy is Congress’ Responsibility

By | Labor Unions | No Comments

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. Read More

Restore Precedent, Representation to Transportation Union Votes

By | Economy, Labor Unions, Transportation | One Comment

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 …

If EFCA Won’t Pass the Senate, We’ll Turn to Federal Labor Boards

By | Human Resources, Labor Unions | 6 Comments

In remarks to the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council today President Obama again reiterated the Administration’s commitment to seek passage of the jobs-killing Employee Free Choice Act. The President told the assembled group of labor union officials:

Getting EFCA through the Senate is gonna be tough, but we’re going to keep on pushing.

President quickly followed that statement up affirming the Administration’s plans to use federal regulatory agencies to implement labor’s agenda. The President said officials have already made numerous policies changes through pro-union executive orders and appointments at both the National Mediation Board and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The President said:

My administration has consistently implemented not just legislative strategies but also where we have the power through executive orders to make sure that those basic values are reflected.

He said that the fight for EFCA in the Senate will be tough but “Our work doesn’t stop there. There is a reason why we nominated people the National Mediation Board.” He said “we’re going to make sure that the National Labor Relations Board is restored…”

The President is conceding what we (employers) have consistently warned against: In failing to push through Congress the policies demanded by labor like card check legislation, he is instead using the Executive Branch and regulatory agencies to achieve the same policy end. The outcome will be a system that increases labor-management conflict, undermines the dynamic labor marketplace, and adds huge new costs to U.S. businesses struggling to create jobs and stay competitive in the global economy.

But in doing so, the President circumvents Congress and, we contend, the majority of the American people who do not embrace an economy dominated by labor.

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

By | Labor Unions | 2 Comments

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.

Learning from Experience on the Becker Nomination to NLRB

By | Labor Unions | No Comments

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. Read More

Labor Board Proposes Changes at Big Labor’s Request

By | Labor Unions | One Comment

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.