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Obama’s Big Labor Wins a Big One

by Russ Brown on December 20, 2011

in featured, Union Contracting Privileges

 -American Spectator 

Unions have been disappointed by the Obama administration’s inability to move their agenda forward. But they finally won a victory last week. This is bad news for America’s transport sector, not to mention travelers and businesses of all sizes that rely on rail and air shipping, because it could cause major disruptions to travel and commerce.

Last year, the National Mediation Board (NMB), the government agency charged with overseeing labor relations in the railroad and airlines industries, changed voting rules to favor unionization. On Friday, December 16, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia upheld the rule change as consistent with the Railway Labor Act (RLA).

However, as dissenting Circuit Judge Karen Henderson explained, the NMB failed to provide any justification for changing a rule that had stood for 75 years.

The Act clearly states: “The majority of any craft or class of employees shall have the right to determine who shall be the representative of the craft or class.” A craft or class is any job classification that may be organized as a bargaining unit of like workers — for example, railroad engineers or airline pilots. The new rule makes it possible for a minority of the employees of a craft or class to vote in a union.

The rule change predictably met with strong objections from most of railroad and airline companies. The Air Transport Association of America and U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit challenging it. But this is no simple labor versus management dispute. Several Delta Airlines employees also filed suit on the grounds that the rule change violated their rights of freedom of association.


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