PTI Labor Research
 
 
  Power Through Information  
 
 


Latest News - May 2010

May 11, 2010
Airlines Mount Challenge To New Rule On Union Organizing
Source: Market Watch
Author: Christopher Hinton

U.S. airlines plan to challenge in court a new federal rule that they say will put the industry at a disadvantage in keeping labor organizers at bay.


The National Mediation Board, which oversees management-labor relations for airlines, said Tuesday that amended rules now allow labor groups to organize if just a simple majority of cast ballots favor unionization.


That overturns a long-standing policy that a majority of the entire workforce must vote on unionization, with absent ballots counted in favor of management.


The change aligns voting rules for airline labor -- governed under the Railway Labor Act -- more closely with those under the National Labor Relations Board. Labor analysts expect the new rule to have a huge impact on nonunionized airlines and open the door to more organizing.


"We continue to believe the National Mediation Board does not have legal authority to implement this rule, one that undoubtedly will lead to more labor discord," the Air Transportation Association said in a statement.


"It is quite clear to us that the NMB was determined to proceed despite the proposed rule's substantive and procedural flaws, leaving us no choice but to seek judicial review," the Washington-based industry group added.


Getting behind the ATA are two airlines -- Delta Air Lines Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!dal/quotes/nls/dal (DAL 13.44, +0.53, +4.11%) and JetBlue Airways Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!jblu/quotes/nls/jblu (JBLU 5.66, +0.21, +3.81%) -- perhaps most vulnerable to organizing efforts. Nonunion flight attendants and pilots from the carriers have tried in the past to organize, but though they had majority votes, they failed to get the entire workforce on board.


That's because airline management added furloughed employees to their rosters to stack absent votes in their favor, union officials say.


"Today we gladly usher in a new era of democracy," said the Association of Flight Attendants, which has tried to organize workers at Atlanta-based Delta. "For far too long, flight attendants and other aviation and railway employees have faced significant obstacles in their quest for collective-bargaining rights. Outdated and unreliable voting procedures have fostered a unique culture of voter suppression as companies understand that impeding union organizing merely requires preventing employees from voting."


The rule change with the NMB was passed by a majority of its three-member board, with Chairman Elizabeth Dougherty dissenting, the agency said in a statement. Dougherty, a former chief counsel for the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Employment, Safety and Training, was appointed to the board in 2006.


Chairman Harry Hoglander has been a member of the board since 2002 and is a former commercial-airline pilot and union leader. Chairman Linda Puchala was appointed in 2009 and a leader in the Association of Flight Attendants.


The change in the voting rule coincides with airline unions' ramped-up efforts to secure higher wages and benefits, drawing strength from a more labor-friendly Obama administration as well as renewed industry growth after nearly two years of recession.

 

 

 

 


Latest News

CampaignWebsites
Deliver your message anywhere, anytime.
Campaign Websites reinforce your campaign message in a format that preserves employee anonymity

More...

Union Awareness Program
PTI Labor Research has been obtaining and analyzing union activity and petitions for over 20 years. We have the largest and most extensive research data in the country which has been utilized by thousands of companies, labor lawyers and consultants.
More...

 

 
 
About Us          |          Services          |          News          |          Clients          |          FAQ          |          Contact Us

© 2009 PTI Labor Research. All Rights Reserved