Government by Decree for Big Labor

The Obama Adminstration's penchant for issuing executive orders and decrees that benefit their political allies is creating a backlash. From National Review: The dispute can be traced back to the Railway Labor Act, a 1926 law that made it relatively difficult for railroad workers to unionize — the idea being that without serious limits on union power, labor organizations could hold the nation’s crucial transportation infrastructure hostage to unreasonable demands. The following decade, none other than Franklin Delano Roosevelt expanded the law to cover America’s emerging airline sector as well. One limit the law puts on airline unions is that in order to unionize, they need consent from “the majority of any craft or class of employees.” Note that there’s a difference between the “majority . . . of employees” and the majority of employees who choose to vote in a union election. The way the law is written, if a “craft or class” — say, flight attendants or customer-service workers — has 100 members, and only 80 cast votes, the union still needs 51 votes, not 41, to win the right to represent the workers. This puts the onus on the unions to get the word out and increase turnout. The National Mediation Board — which has decided RLA disputes since 1934 — interpreted the law this way for its first 75 years. But then, Obama took office and changed the composition of the board to 2–1 Democrat. In 2010, with no deliberation by Congress whatsoever — but with urging from the unions — the NMB simply changed course, declaring that from now on, a majority of voting employees is all that’s needed to unionize a work group. The board made several smaller changes as well, all of which favored the unions. The unions immediately began exploiting this rule change. In the case of the Delta-Northwest merger, the unions already had filed election applications before the rule change, but withdrew them and then re-filed so that the elections could take place under the new rules.