Showdown Looms on Air, Rail Voting Rights

In the wake of a major airline organizing win, allies and adversaries of the new voting rights for airline and rail workers are squaring off in a historic fight that will determine if the National Mediation Board’s new rules are preserved or repealed.

Earlier this week, nearly 3,000 workers at AirTran won collective bargaining rights and IAM representation under new voting rules that determine the outcome of representation elections by a simple majority.

The House of Representatives is preparing to vote on legislation with a provision repealing the new guidelines and restoring the old rules, where any eligible voter who did not cast a ballot was automatically counted as a vote against union representation. For decades, airlines and railroads opposed to unionization have used the old rules, in addition to harassment and intimidation tactics, to suppress union organizing efforts.

The White House has weighed in, with a statement of administrative policy declaring that the President would veto any legislation that includes a provision to revoke the Board’s new voting guidelines.

“If the President is presented with a bill that would not safeguard the ability of railroad and airline workers to decide whether or not they would be represented by a union based on a majority of the ballots cast in an election or that would degrade safe and efficient air traffic, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill,” said the White House statement.

Want to join the fight? Click here to urge your Representative to support an amendment proposed by Ohio Republican Rep. Steven LaTourette that would remove the repeal language and preserve the voting rules that allow a simple majority of those voting in air and rail union elections to determine the outcome.