NMB Weighs Election Rules for Airline Mergers

Prior to the new legislation, the NMB required signatures from 35 percent of the employee group for whom union representation was sought. The new standard, favored by anti-union Republicans in Congress, increases the showing of interest requirement from 35 to 50 percent.

While the Republican-led House of Representatives did manage to impose language in the FAA bill to make union organizing more difficult, they did not specifically address the showing of interest requirement with regard to airline mergers, a near-constant presence in today’s deregulated airline industry.

In a statement delivered to the NMB, IAM Deputy General Counsel Carla Siegel outlined how the changes if applied to mergers could potentially suppress workers’ legitimate interest in collective bargaining while giving carriers a new tool to deprive employees of their statutory right to representation.

“The carriers, intentionally or otherwise, could thwart the employees’ long-held representation by merging a unionized carrier with a larger, non-union carrier,” explained Siegel. “If the incumbent organization had a showing of representation or interest of 49 percent of the combined carrier and if two, Twelfth (the new regulation re. showing of interest) were to apply, once the Board found a single transportation to exist, it would not even authorize an election to determine whether the employees would keep their representative. The carrier’s decision about corporate structure would effectively “decertify” the union without the employees’ having any voice what-so-ever.”

The IAM urged the Board to adopt its existing policy on mergers and continue applying its long-held practice of holding representation elections if two employee groups are comparable in size and allow the employees, rather than the carriers, to select which representative, if any, they prefer.

A decision from the Board is expected this Fall.