Trains & Planes Slowed By Big Labor Bosses and Forced Unionism

Let Transportation Workers Vote For ‘No Union’

Will Trump-appointed NMB Chair Kyle Fortson help make it less hard for employees to oust a union? Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Bureaucrats Urged to Stop Coddling Airline, Railroad Union Dons

As stacked as federal labor policy is against the rights of individual employees who don’t want a union, it does at least allow most employees who are subject to an unwanted monopolistic union to band together with others in the same business to vote it out.

Unfortunately, for decades, American airline and railroad employees who were unhappy with the union that wielded monopoly-bargaining power over them lacked any legally recognized mechanism whatsoever to get rid of it.

Even today, unionized transportation workers who are subject to the jurisdiction of the National Mediation Board (NMB) cannot secure a direct vote to go union-free.

But in the near future, thanks largely to the persistence and hard work of National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, Trump appointees on the NMB may at last let transportation employees who are currently under union monopoly control secure an opportunity to vote for “no union.”

To an even greater extent than the over 90% of American private-sector employees who have only limited associational rights vis-à-vis labor unions under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), employees who fall under the federal Railway Labor Act (RLA) are legally unprotected against forced unionism.

State Right to Work Laws Don’t Apply to Airline Or Railroad Employees

The U.S. Congress is primarily to blame for airline and railroad workers’ plight.

When a Big Labor Congress amended the RLA in 1951 to authorize forced membership in and forced payments to unions, it also included language expressly prohibiting state laws to the contrary.

Consequently, states have no power to stop airline and railroad union bosses from getting employees fired for refusal to fork over money to their organizations.

The policy of the NLRA, in contrast, is and always has been to allow states to protect employees’ Right to Work.

Since 1951, the NMB bureaucrats who are charged with implementing the coercive RLA have made matters even worse by prohibiting “decertification” elections.

Such elections, which are allowed under the NLRA, allow employees who are under the control of a union they don’t want to vote to have “no union” instead.

‘Straw Man’ Procedure Cumbersome, But Better Than Nothing at All

Thanks to Russell v. NMB, a 1983 federal appellate court decision won on behalf of independent-minded Texas railroad employees by Right to Work Foundation attorneys, there is now a way, albeit a peculiar one, for RLA-covered employees to oust a labor union they don’t want.

Overturning an astonishingly anti-worker NMB decision, Russell found that employees under the RLA may oust a union by designating, in its place, an individual who has already made it clear he or she does not intend to exercise monopoly-bargaining privileges over them.

“Russell is a groundbreaking employee rights case that finally forced NMB bureaucrats to give the workers in their domain a means to go union-free,” said National Right to Work Committee Vice President Greg Mourad.

“But the ‘straw man’ procedure the NMB recognizes is cumbersome. It’s an unjustifiable hurdle for workers who are shackled to a union that isn’t acting in their best interest.”

Bill Now Pending in Senate Would Protect RLA-Covered Workers From Forced Dues

Mr. Mourad continued: “Fortunately, the President Trump-appointed majority on the current NMB recently issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks to create a ‘straightforward election process’ for union decertifications.

“If the NMB stands up to Big Labor bosses and adopts the proposed rule, airline and railroad employees who are subject to union monopoly bargaining, but don’t want to be, will finally be able to vote, simply and directly, for ‘no union.’

“This spring, the Right to Work Foundation is submitting comments in support of the change, which is a step in the right direction.

“Meanwhile, the Right to Work Committee is pushing for passage of S.525, federal forced-dues repeal. If S.525 becomes law, airline and railroad employees, along with other private-sector employees, will have the Right to Work in all 50 states.”

(source: April 2019 National Right To Work Newsletter)