House Transportation Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL) and the other House Republican Committee Members have written to the panel that governs aviation labor relations, opposing any weakening of unprecedented labor reforms they and Speaker of the House John Boehner worked to include in the long-term FAA measure signed into law in February.
The letter to the National Mediation Board (NMB) disputes recent claims by several unions that reforms included in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (H.R. 658) were not meant to apply in all labor elections, in particular elections resulting from a merger of two airlines. The unions' assertions were made as part of the public comment period for the NMB's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) implementing the historical reforms to the Railway Labor Act contained in H.R. 658, which became Public Law 112-95 on February 14, 2012.
"It is shameful that Democrats and their special-interest allies are asking the Obama Administration to undermine the intent of Congress and weaken the unprecedented labor reforms in the bipartisan FAA agreement," said Speaker Boehner. "I strongly support the efforts of Chairman Mica and our conferees to set the record straight and ensure that the National Mediation Board develops new rules that comply with the reforms passed by Congress and signed by the president."
In the letter, Mica and the other Members clarify the intent of Congress in passing the labor reforms, stating that according to the new law, "all union applications seeking to represent a craft or class of employees must be supported by a showing of interest from at least 50% of the employees in the craft or class."
The lawmakers affirm that, as principal authors of the legislative language, it "unequivocally covers all representation elections and disputes including representation elections arising as the result of mergers."
"Had Congress wished to exclude merger-related representation elections from the scope of Section 2, Twelfth [the labor law amended by H.R. 658], such an exception could have easily been written into the amendment; clearly it was not."
"Further, we would point out that the provision was drafted with full knowledge that over 80% of all airline workers involved in recent NMB representation elections have been participating in elections arising after a merger. In light of this reality, there would have been no rational basis for excluding merger related elections."
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
letter, which was signed by Chairman Mica, Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri (R-WI), U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN), U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH), and U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN) -- the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee conferees to H.R. 658.
The FAA Modernization and Reform Act brought much needed equity, transparency, and oversight to the NMB and aviation labor elections.
Under the Obama Administration, the NMB unilaterally changed 75 years of labor election procedures in order to make the unionization process more labor friendly. In order to even the playing field for all, H.R. 658, in addition to reforming the threshold for approval for union elections, requires that any new NMB rulemakings be subject to public hearings; that in the event of a run-off election for unionization the top two options will be in the run-off, not just the top two unions; and that the independent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) now conduct regular and substantive oversight of the NMB, which previously had been non-existent.
The NPRM and public comment period in question are a direct result of the reforms and transparency requirements included in H.R. 658.