NMB Hearing Provides Compelling Testimony

More than thirty people spoke at the National Mediation Board’s public hearing this week on the board’s proposal to implement a fair representation election voting process for air and rail workers. Among those who testified from personal experience with the current voting guidelines was Marianne Bickler, a former Delta flight attendant supervisor, who told how she was trained to intimidate flight attendants in a previous union organizing drive.

“We were given anti-union fliers to ensure they were stocked and present in the lounges,” said Bickler, who spoke in favor of the rule change. “We collected any union information in the lounge area and threw it away. We conducted intimidating one-on-one meetings behind closed doors with flight attendants to tell them not to join the union. We stood near AFA activists when they were speaking to other flight attendants to intimidate them. Delta kept as many flight attendants as they could on the seniority list to manipulate the current voting system. In simple terms: the more ‘flight attendants’ on the list, the greater amount of no votes. After all, under the current rules, everyone begins as a ‘no’ vote.”

Current NMB rules count eligible voters who do not participate in the election as having voted against union representation, explained Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr., who testified on behalf of present and future IAM members.

“The NMB should support a process where each person has the opportunity to choose for themselves if they want to vote ‘yes’ or vote ‘no’, and those who abstain from voting for whatever reason do not influence the outcome of the election,” said Roach.

The three members of the NMB did not question any of the speakers, nor did they make any comments on the proposal. The speaker list included union representatives, rank and file workers, various industry trade groups and a small army of anti-union attorneys. The only airline to speak out directly against the proposed rule change was Delta Air Lines who argued that if the proposed rule is adopted, they should be the only airline exempted.