Monday, May 17, 2010

National Mediation Board Overturns 75-Year-Old Voting Rules

A sharply divided National Mediation Board published on May 11, 2010, a final regulation dramatically revising the voting rules pertaining to union representation balloting. The new rules apply to airlines and railroad workers. The NMB now has a new member, Linda Puchala, who joined with long-time member, Harry Hoglander, to forge the new rule to which the lone Republican member, Elizabeth Dougherty, dissented, available here. Ms. Puchala was once with the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA and Mr. Hoglander was once with the Air Line Pilots Association. The Board Members’ bios are available here.

The old rule in effect provided that a majority of the bargaining unit had to vote for the union for the union to prevail in an effort to unionize under the Railway Labor Act. The new rule provides that the union need only obtain a majority of those members of the bargaining unit who actually vote.

There has been talk that the Congress may use the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. §§ 801-808) to overturn the NMB decision. The CRA allows Congress to pass a resolution of disapproval which if approved would trump the attempt at a rule change. In order to bring a resolution of disapproval to the floor, a discharge petition would need to be approved—only 30 votes are needed to discharge such a resolution and bring it to the Senate floor.

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