May 17, 2010

NMB Rule

The National Mediation Board recently amended a rule under the Railway Labor Act (“RLA”) that will make it easier for airline and railway employees to unionize. Since 1934, eligible workers in those industries who did not cast a ballot in a union representation election were counted as votes against unionization. However, the amended rule provides that a representation election will be decided in favor of the union if a majority of the voting employees cast a ballot in the union’s favor.

This rule change puts the RLA in line with the National Labor Relations Act with respect to the counting of election votes, and proponents of the change argue that the change will provide a more reliable indicator of the employees’ sentiment. However, opponents of the new rule argue that it will be more difficult for airline and railway employees to unionize because their union elections apply company-wide and, therefore, affect operations throughout the entire country. Furthermore, the RLA does not provide employees with a way to decertify a union once it is established.

Please contact your employment counsel at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP with any questions regarding the NMB Rule.

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