Politicized NMB Investigates Union Elections


Posted by Cory Eucalitto on Tuesday, June 7th, 2011, 2:36 PM PERMALINK


Originally posted at WorkerFreedom.org

The National Mediation Board’s (NMB) assault on Delta Airlines has added another front. The NMB, which has already taken heat for its for its pro-union tilt, announced that it would expand its probes into several recent representation elections involving Delta employees.

Back on June 1, the NMB indicated that the agency would begin a probe into alleged interference during a November 2010 union election involving Delta and 20,000 of the airline’s flight attendants. The notice followed an appeal from the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), who had lost that election 53%-44%. It was the third such lost election for AFA since 2008.

Fast forward a week and NMB has now decided to follow up with new probes in response to similar claims, this time made by the International Association of Machinists (IAM). The three elections in question also ran late last year and were focused on the representation of Delta’s baggage handlers, customer service agents, and stock clerks. Just like AFA, IAM lost all three elections, not by particularly close margins.

Despite repeated rejection, AFA and IAM are unwilling to quit. Realizing that the merit of their argument was not enough to convince workers to unionize, the unions asked their friends at the NMB for help—two of the three NMB board members are former union officials.

Current NMB Member Linda Puchala served as International President of AFA. Chairman Harry Hoglander has also worked extensively in the trenches of air industry labor organization. These two alone have the power to issue decisions singlehandedly, as they so capably demonstrated by leaving then-Chairman Elizabeth Dougherty entirely out of past negotiations. How impartial Ms. Puchala and Mr. Hoglander can remain in their investigation of Delta is certainly in question.

Big Labor’s motivation in continuing this fight is not hard to figure out: representation of Delta’s employees would be an absolute cash cow for the unions. The combination of the several groups of Delta employees voting on representation at the end of last year was the largest attempt at representation at a U.S. company since 1941. The 50,000 new union members potentially gained, willing or not, would mean 50,000 more dues paying members and a stranglehold on the world’s largest airline.  The motivations are money and power, pure and simple.

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