Protecting Your Representation Rights in a Merger
June 19, 2012
Today the National Mediation Board (“NMB”) held a public hearing to solicit comments on the impact of the recently passed amendments to the Railway Labor Act (RLA), specifically as it relates to the NMB’s merger policies and procedures. The anti-labor changes to the RLA included a new section of the statute, Section 2, Twelfth, which raises from 35% to 50%, the percentage of the craft or class that must sign authorizations before the Board will conduct an election for union representation. Read a review of changes to the RLA >
The Association of Flight Attendants, together with many other transportation unions, argued that this new section of the law does not and should not apply to representation issues rising due to mergers. Based on the clear legislative history and the text of the law, AFA strongly urged the Board to codify its current merger procedures, and allow Unions to be placed on the ballot with a 35% showing of interest.
AFA General Counsel Ed Gilmartin and AFA International Vice President Sara Nelson attended the hearing where Terry French, AFA’s Master Executive Council President for the former Mesaba Airline Flight Attendants, also told the Board of the devastating impact the new section of the law could have had on the merger of Pinnacle, Mesaba and Colgan Airlines and the subsequent representation election if it were applied retroactively to mergers. Because AFA represents only 30% of the entire Flight Attendant craft or class, AFA could have been banished from the election ballot and lost its certification without an election. Fortunately, within the two week showing of interest period hundreds of Flight Attendants signed cards in support of an election with AFA on the ballot.
Our representation should never be tied to a management decision. As one labor attorney noted during the hearing, “The fact that the carrier decided to change its corporate structure should not penalize the employees in their choice of a representative.” Representation should always be determined by the workers, not management. We applaud the NMB for addressing this issue through rule making to ensure airline workers have peace of mind knowing they will have the chance to determine their own representation.
President French concluded his testimony stating, “As the government agency charged with the duty of ensuring that employees can freely choose Union representation, the NMB must do everything possible to implement policies that preserve existing Union certifications, not extinguish them.”