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Senate Passes FAA Bill With Anti-Union Language

February 7, 2012 - by Donny Shaw

By a vote of 75-20, the Senate has given final passage to a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that would make it tougher for transportation workers to unionize. Under the bill, the National Mediation Board — the agency that manages labor issues for the railroad and airline industries — would not be allowed to call for an union election unless at least 50 percent of the employees of a company sign authorization cards requesting an election.

The new rules would make it more difficult for workers in the transportation industry to hold a union election than in just about any other industry. Under the current, National Mediation Board rules, once more than 35 percent of employees sign authorization cards the agency can deem that to be an adequate showing of interest and call for an up-or-down secret ballot vote on forming a union. And under the rules of the agency that deals with union issues for just about all non-transportation industries, the National Labor Relations Board, only 30 percent of employees are needed for an adequate showing of interest.

The new union-formation language was added to the bill during the conference committee process and has not been given complete legislative delibration. In a letter to Congress, union officials called out the process:

A rewrite of long standing labor law deserves proper and due consideration through the normal deliberative process. Acting otherwise directly conflicts with the non-partisan recommendations of the 1994 Report of the Dunlop Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations. This is particularly true of this law which was uniquely created through labor and management negotiations. Unilaterally changing that law without labor’s input and without due deliberation threatens to unravel its carefully balanced goals of labor stability and uninterrupted commerce. Rewarding the House Republican Leadership’s desire to rewrite decades of long standing labor law in a flash by inserting an unrelated and controversial labor provision in a much needed aviation safety and security bill, without notice, hearing, or debate, sets an extremely dangerous precedent.

The bill has already been passed by the Republican-led House. It now goes to President Obama to be signed into law.

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