National Right to Work Foundation asks National Mediation Board to eliminate confusing ‘straw man’ decertification rules for airline and railroad workers
Washington, D.C. (April 1, 2019) – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has submitted comments to the National Mediation Board (NMB) supporting the agency’s proposed simplification of the rules enabling workers in the airline and railway industries to vote to remove a labor union that lacks the support of a majority of workers.
The NMB, which administers the Railway Labor Act (RLA), is currently considering rulemaking to modernize and update the rules for workers seeking to hold a vote to strip union officials of their monopoly bargaining powers. The process is particularly important since under federal law RLA unions can force workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment, even where state Right to Work laws protect other employees from forced union dues.
Longstanding legal precedent unanimously upholds that the RLA allows workers to choose their representative or no representative at all. However, NMB rules, in particular the current “straw man” requirement, make exercising this right inordinately complex.
The confusing rule forces an individual employee to run as a “straw man” union to replace the incumbent union as the monopoly representative. Once elected by a majority of the workers, the new “straw man” representative may then disclaim collective representation, but is not legally required to do so.
The Foundation’s comments to the NMB explain that the current “confusing and obfuscatory process” undermines both the letter and spirit of the RLA:
“The proposed rules are long overdue. Employee free choice is the RLA’s most significant policy, and the proposed rules are needed to ensure that all employees have an equal and fair choice regarding union representation. The Board has statutory authority to adopt the proposed rules, and should do so as soon as possible.”
National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix also commented on the long overdue reform:
“This proposed change is a commonsense reform to the current process which only makes sense if the goal is to confuse workers about their rights to remove an unwanted union. Ultimately the Railway Labor Act has many fundamental problems that require legislative action, not the least of which is that it grants union bosses the power to have workers fired for nonpayment of union dues or fees even in states with Right to Work laws. However, while we wait action from Congress to fix those greater injustices, adopting this basic change within the confines of the flawed RLA is well worth doing.”
In addition to submitting the formal comments, veteran Foundation staff attorney Glenn M. Taubman testified at the NMB hearing on March 28 in favor of the proposed rule change.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.