NMB Delivers Historic Election Rule Change

IAM members sent more than 24 thousand cards and letters to the NMB supporting the proposed rule change.

The National Mediation Board (NMB) this week published in the Federal Register its long-awaited change to rules governing representation elections conducted under the Railway Labor Act.

In the brief summary of the historic change, the NMB declared: “As part of its ongoing efforts to further the statutory goals of the Railway Labor Act, the National Mediation Board is amending its National Railway Act rules to provide that, in representation disputes, a majority of valid ballots cast will determine the craft or class representative (italics added). This change to its election procedures will provide a more reliable measure/indicator of employee sentiment in representation disputes and provide employees with clear choices in representation matters.”

Under the NMB’s previous election guidelines, 50+1 of eligible voters in an election were required to participate in the election in order for the NMB to certify a union. Anyone who did not cast a vote was automatically considered to have voted against union representation. In contrast, union representation elections conducted under the National Labor Relations Act, as well as all other public elections, are decided by a simple majority of those who actually cast a ballot.

“Thousands of Machinists union members and hundreds of members of Congress told the NMB that it was time to end its 75-year practice of imposing a viewpoint on people who, either by choice or by chance, do not participate in representation elections,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr.

The NMB’s new rule will take effect 30 days after being published in the Federal Register. 

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