FAA Bill Rebukes Rogue Bureaucrats

Later this week, the House will take up a bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (HR 658).   The important but unexciting topic is likely to produce some fireworks, though.   Included in the legislation is language that annuls the National Mediation Board’s (NMB) Minority Rule decision from 2010.   This is big.

The decision by the three-member NMB (who is appointed by President Obama) overturned seventy-five years of precedent by ruling that a majority of voting members were required to certify a union at airlines and railroads, not a majority of all members of a workforce, thus helping facilitate unionization.

Under the Railway Labor Act (which also covers airlines), unions had to win the support of a majority of employees. A non-voting worker effectively counts as a “no”—a union must have the support of a majority of all workers, not just those who show up to vote.

There was a good reason the law set a higher bar for airline unions to clear. The Railway Labor Act effectively bars workers from getting rid of a union. Once they unionize, they cannot get out.   It makes sense that unions had to demonstrate active support from a majority of all workers—a minority of workers could not vote a silent majority permanently into a union.

But union leaders want workers to unionize, period. They do not object to workers being forced into a union they cannot get out of; they simply want more members paying more union dues. Title IX of the FAA reauthorization would override the NMB’s union biased decision and put Congress back in the driver’s seat of making major changes to labor law.

The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee opposed an amendment that would have removed the provision by a 30-29 margin (three Republicans sided with the unions), and a similar amendment will more than likely be proposed when the bill goes before the House this week.

The reauthorization also streamlines and consolidates some FAA programs and reduces spending to fiscal year 2008 levels. The House must be serious in its approach to cutting spending and opposing special union interests, and many of the proposals in HR 658 do just that.

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