The ongoing controversy surrounding the procedures of the National Mediation Board’s (NMB) “minority rule” continued in recent days with a letter sent by Reps. Darrell Issa [R-CA] and Dennis Ross [R-FL]. The Alliance for Worker Freedom (AWF) has extensively covered the details of NMB’s “minority rule”, as well as some of the issues surrounding its publication. For those unfamiliar, in May 2010, NMB changed a 75 year old rule that required the consent of a majority of all workers to approve unionization. Under the new “minority rule,” unionization only takes the support of a majority of voting employees. Thus, a small minority of workers is able to decide the question of representation for all employees, perhaps compelling an entire workforce towards something they may vehemently oppose.
Several items in the letter raise questions about the motivation behind the drafting and publication of this new rule. For example, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) spent years attempting to force representation upon the employees of Delta Airlines. Within just four days before the first Notice of Proposed Rule Making, each of these organizations withdrew their applications to the NMB. Had they not done this, AFA and IAM would have remained subject to the majority rule- keeping their quest to forcibly unionize Delta workers quite difficult. As the letter states, “the proximity of the IAM and AFA’s withdrawal…to the Board’s publication…strongly suggest that someone within the Board communicated with the IAM and AFA concerning the case before the Board.”
Could the coziness between NMB and AFA have anything to do with the fact that NMB Board Member Linda Puchala previously served as International President of the AFA? Another former AFA head stated in a radio interview that the AFA had worked hand in hand with other members of the Big Labor community and even with the Obama Administration to ensure Member Puchala’s placement on the Board. It should come as no surprise that, as the letter notes and as AWF has previously taken issue with, Member Puchala and Chairman Harry Hoglander published the rule behind the back of then-Chairman Elizabeth Dougherty and even “sought to prevent the publication of Member Dougherty’s dissent.” With their political agenda already decided, Puchala and Hoglander hardly had time for petty disputes with the other member of the Board.
This direct push for unionization by regulation betrays any sense of public confidence in the nation’s federal agencies. It proves that the objective of NMB is hardly “the prompt and orderly resolution of disputes arising out of the negotiation of new or revised collective bargaining agreements” as their own mission declares. Instead, NMB and other federal agencies are puppets of Big Labor. Unions like AFA and IAM have proven that they will stop at nothing to achieve this goal, including co-opting our nation’s regulatory agencies who are all too frequently more than willing to assist them.
Luckily, the House of Representatives voted to overturn NMB’s minority rule change through Title IX of this year’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill. The bill is now headed to conference with the Senate, where the Title IX language was not included in their version. Ensuring that Title IX is included in the final FAA bill is a key step in winning the battle against Big Labor’s political agenda. In the meantime, the letter sent by Reps. Issa and Ross should receive the utmost attention of NMB officials and serve as a warning to all federal regulatory agencies attempting to implement a partisan agenda around the will of Congress and the people.