U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today criticized the National Mediation Board for its attempt to overturn 75 years of precedent and to make it easier for airline and railway employees to unionize.
"The National Mediation Board simply does not have the legal authority to make such a radical change without Congressional authorization," Isakson said. "If this proposed rule change is accepted, a union could be permanently recognized without a majority of employees having ever supported representation. I will use all available tools at my disposal, including the Congressional Review Act option, to see that this assault on employee rights does not stand."
The proposed rule change would affect companies under the jurisdiction of the Railway Labor Act by allowing union elections to be decided by only a majority of workers who cast ballots. Since the creation of the National Mediation Board in 1934, employees who do not vote on whether to create a union have been counted as "no" votes. Under this "majority rule" procedure, a union must be approved by a full majority of all employees.
Isakson believes the National Mediation Board cannot and should not change this election procedure without Congressional authorization. The Supreme Court has upheld the "majority rule" twice, and the National Mediation Board previously rejected requests to change it four times under both Democratic and Republican administrations.
The AFL-CIO requested the rule change in a Sept. 2, 2009, letter to the National Mediation Board. Isakson, along with eight of his Senate colleagues, sent a letter to the National Mediation Board on Oct. 8, 2009, urging the board to reject the changes proposed by the AFL-CIO and describing them as "not required, essential or warranted."