Yesterday the Obama administration released a statement through the Office of Management and Budget threatening a presidential veto of the FAA Reauthorization bill. This move was precipitated by an amendment to the bill which seeks to overturn the recent "minority rule" by the National Mediation Board (NMB).
As AWF and ATR have previously reported, last spring the NMB announced a ruling unilaterally amending the Railway Labor Act (a law that provides for special regulation of transportation workers), reversing over 75 years of regulatory precedent. Under the old rules, rail and air travel employees wanting to unionize had to garner a majority of votes amongst the total body of workers. The new NMB decision mandated that a union could receive a majority only of voting employees in order to be certified, raising the possibility that a tiny minority of workers could compel an entire workforce to unionize against the will of its greater part. This policy change came about due to the efforts of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), a collective bargaining organization which tried and failed—multiple times—to unionize Delta Airlines employees. The AFA then petitioned the NMB to tilt the playing field, and the Board was only too happy to oblige.
Now the Obama administration is faced with the FAA bill's Title IX provision, which stands to reverse the NMB's hard work on behalf of Big Labor. The administration's memorandum claims "by treating non-votes as “no” votes, the provision would prohibit workers in the airline and railroad industries from voting whether to join a union on the same basis – majority rule – as most other industries." Of course it does, Mr. President, precisely because the transportation sector is so radically vital and different from other industries. In addition, unionization should not be a thing against which workers must constantly defend themselves; the "burden of proof" should lie upon the organizers who must convince a majority of all employees to agree to certification. The perversity of the NMB's ruling is apparent from the AFA howling that Delta informed its employees too-well about the election. If the union bosses had their druthers, no worker would know anything about unionization until it was too late to vote against it (which Americans have been overwhelmingly doing, in recent years).