The National Mediation Board (NMB) has announced that it will hold at least one day of public hearings to discuss the agency’s proposed rule that would implement the changes to existing representation dispute and election procedures in the railway and airline industries made by the Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FAA Act). Issued on May 15, 2012, the proposed rule would amend NMB regulations regarding run-off elections, showing of interest for representation elections, and the NMB’s rulemaking proceedings to reflect the changes the FAA Act made to the Railway Labor Act (RLA). Continue reading this entry at Littler's DC Employment Law Update.
The National Mediation Board (NMB) has issued a proposed rule that would implement the changes to existing representation dispute and election procedures in the railway and airline industries made by the Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FAA Act). Signed into law on February 14, 2012, the FAA Act included significant restrictions over airline and railway union organizing. Specifically, the Act amended the Railway Labor Act (RLA) by: (a) specifying that the NMB must provide an opportunity for public hearing regarding any significant rules; (b) requiring that in any runoff election for which there are three or more options (including the option of “no union”) on the ballot and none receives a majority of the valid votes cast, a second election would be held between the two options receiving the most votes; (c) raising the showing of interest threshold for elections to not less than 50% (up from 35%) of the employees in the craft or class; and (d) imposing certain review and auditing requirements on the NMB’s programs and expenditures. To this end, the proposed rule published in the May 15, 2012 edition of the Federal Register would make changes to existing NMB rules regarding run-off elections, showing of interest for representation elections, and the NMB’s rulemaking proceedings to conform to the FAA Act provisions.
Update: On February 6, 2012, the Senate approved the conference report by a vote of 75-20. On February 14, 2012, President Obama signed this bill into law.
As expected, the House of Representatives approved the conference report to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding bill that includes significant restrictions over air and railway union organizing. The House voted 248-169 in favor of the report reconciling the House and Senate versions of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (H.R. 658), which reauthorizes the agency’s programs and provides its funding for a four-year period. Continue reading this entry at Littler's Washington DC Employment Law Update.
In a move consistent with organized labor’s push for an accelerated collective bargaining process for airlines and railroads, the National Mediation Board (NMB) announced the implementation of its expedited mediation project. (pdf) The new program is designed ostensibly to move the mediation process – whose purpose is to resolve collective bargaining disputes in the airline and railroad industries – along. In a press release, Larry Gibbons, NMB Director for Mediation, said the program was in response to a report (pdf) issued in 2010 by the Dunlop II Committee, a joint labor-management committee formed to examine the internal functions, policies and procedures of the NMB and make recommendations for procedural or policy changes. Gibbons explained that the report “...recommended, among other things, that case management strategies be developed to help address [mediation] disputes in a timely and methodical manner.” From this general recommendation in Dunlop II, the NMB developed protocols for expedited mediation. The initiative stops far short of recommendations principally from unions for explicit time limits on mediation. Yet, the initiative works to dispel the perception held by some that mediation is an endless process.
On Friday the House of Representatives approved by a 223-196 margin the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2011 (H.R. 658) without adopting a number of controversial union-related amendments to the measure. As expected, the chamber narrowly rejected by a vote of 206-220 a bipartisan amendment (pdf) offered by Reps. Steven LaTourette (R-OH) and Jerry Costello (D-IL) that would have stricken from the bill a provision that repeals the contentious new National Mediation Board (NMB) election rule. Continue reading this entry at Littler's Washington DC Employment Law Update.
On Thursday, the Senate, by a 43 to 56 vote, failed to approve the resolution (S. J. Res. 30) introduced by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) that sought to reverse the new National Mediation Board (NMB) election rule (pdf) that upended more than 75 years of established procedure. Such a resolution of disapproval, submitted under the Congressional Review Act, allows Congress to overturn rules issued by administrative agencies. Had the Senate approved the resolution, it would still have required the President’s signature or veto.
The NMB’s decision to change its election rule has been highly contentious. Under the NMB’s prior long-standing election approach, the outcome was determined by a majority of employees eligible to vote in representation elections. As a result, employees choosing not to participate are effectively viewed as “no union” votes. The NMB’s new rule, which took effect on July 1 despite an ongoing legal challenge, changes this policy by basing the voting outcome on the majority of those who actually vote, which is closer to the practice in non NMB-governed industries. Sen. Isakson pointed out during the debate on the resolution, however, that unlike similar situations governed by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the NMB does not provide for union decertification.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has released its much-anticipated proposed regulations (pdf) governing rest rules for commercial airline pilots. Spurred by the February 2009 fatigue-related crash of Colgan Air 3407 in Buffalo, New York, these rules impose a number of new requirements on airlines to address flight operation and rest time. The rules are also in response to the recently-enacted Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010, which directed the FAA to establish regulations to address pilot fatigue by August 1, 2011. In a statement, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said: “I know firsthand that fighting fatigue is a serious issue, and it is the joint responsibility of both the airline and the pilot,” adding, “After years of debate, the aviation community is moving forward to give pilots the tools they need to manage fatigue and fly safely.” Continue reading this entry at Littler’s Washington DC Employment Law Update.
Photo credit: Monika Wisniewska