After a yearlong fight, House Republicans land a blow against the politicized National Mediation Board (NMB). After assuming office in 2009, President Obama appointed two pro-union members to the three member NMB, the federal agency that oversees union-employer relations in the transportation industry. Effectively controlling the board, Obama’s Democrat appointees rewrote long-held election law to make it easier for unions to organize transportation workers. While the National Labor Relations Board’s nefarious activity has received much publicity, Obama’s regulatory overreach began with the NMB.
Since the National Railway Act’s was ratified in 1926, a union needed to receive a majority of votes from a working group in order for those workers to be unionized. After Obama’s appointees rewrote the rules with a 2010 rulemaking, unions were only required to receive a majority of all voting members’ votes. This unprecedented rulemaking threatened to disenfranchise workers and was a blatant attempt to inflate union membership numbers, and union dues.
Recognizing how problematic the NMB rulemaking was, Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) inserted a provision (Title IX) into the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that overturned the NMB rule. During debate of Mica’s bill, Republican Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio) joined Democrats and offered an amendment to strip Chairman Mica’s provision out of the bill. LaTourette failed, but his move highlighted how difficult it would be to get FAA authorization across the finish line, especially with Democrats controlling the Senate and White House.
After the Senate passed their predictably bad FAA authorization legislation, the House and Senate conferenced to try and work out the differences between their two pieces of legislation. And there were plenty, but the most contentious deviation was Mica’s NMB provision. Stopgap measures were passed to keep the FAA funded and give House Leadership time to negotiate with Sen. Rockefeller.
After months of contentious debate, the House and Senate agreed to final NMB language—last week both Chambers passed FAA authorization. While it would have been impossible to get Sen. Rockefeller to swallow the provision that overturned the NMB’s pro-union rulemaking, Boehner extracted tangible victories for conservatives.