NMB Vote Rule Poised for Takeoff

A U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia swept aside a lawsuit by the Air Transport Association (ATA) and upheld the National Mediation Board’s (NMB) revised voting rules for air and rail representation elections. The nation’s transportation workers will now have the same voting rights enjoyed by workers in all other U.S. industries.

The ATA lawsuit sought a preliminary injunction that would have blocked the new voting rules from taking effect on June 30. Judge Paul L. Friedman denied the request and agreed with the NMB, which argued “the proposed change is essential to fulfilling its statutory mission to ascertain employee preference with regard to representation.”

The new rule no longer requires a majority of a class or craft to take part for an election to be certified and says air and rail union elections must now be decided by a simple majority of votes cast.

In his ruling, Judge Friedman noted that employees might fail to vote because they are traveling or sick, because of apathy, because of pressure not to vote, because of religious conviction not to vote, or when furloughed and therefore out of touch with other employees.

“There is nothing arbitrary and capricious about using a common democratic procedure, and moving away from a procedure that the Supreme Court, among others, noted was subject to inaccuracy in that it overstates opposition to representation,” said the board.