Roughly 178 members of the US Congress today joined forces and signed a letter to the country's National Mediation Board (NMB) urging for a change in rules governing the way votes are tallied in union organizing elections for aviation and railroad workers.

On 3 November the NMB published a proposal to change voting procedures. Under the change proffered by the board, airline and railroad workers would be certified as having formed a union if the majority of workers participating in a vote endorse representation, rather than the current rule that requires a majority vote among all workers.

At the time representatives John Kline and John Mica strongly criticized the NMB's proposal.

"The proposal to rapidly and radically alter rail and aviation organizing rules at the behest of organized labour adds to a troubling perception that federal agencies have embraced a culture of union favouritism," said Kline.

Representative James Oberstar, who serves as Chairman of the US House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Chairman of the chamber's Committee on Education and Labour George Mitchell served as the main signatories of the letter.

"If a worker does not vote, he or she is counted as voting against unionization. In any election, there are a variety of reasons why eligible voters may not vote," the letter states. "Yet, current NMB procedures treat a non-vote as a vote for a specific position: 'no union.' We believe such an election system is inappropriate for any industry. The process is all the more flawed in a setting where voter rolls include significant numbers of furloughed employees who are not in regular communication with other voters."

The NMB today is holding a hearing to discuss the proposed rule change.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news