Press Releases

D.C. Circuit Rules in Favor of NMB Rules Changes

Friday, December 16, 2011

Contact: Candice Johnson or Liz Schilling, CWA Communications, 202-434-1168, or

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the rule changes adopted by the National Mediation Board (NMB) in 2010 that are designed to hold NMB elections to the same basic democratic principles as other elections in our nation.  Given congressional Republicans’ obsession with overturning the NMB rules change by claiming that the election changes overstepped the Board’s authority, today’s judicial ruling eliminates the lead rationale used by the GOP to block the FAA Reauthorization bill over the NMB rules issue. 

“This court ruling demolishes the argument that the NMB overstepped its bounds in ensuring that NMB elections count only the ballots of those who actually vote,” said Candice Johnson, CWA Communications Director.  “Just as importantly, today’s ruling means that the rationale used by many Republican leaders to continue to block the long-term FAA agreement is null and void.  This ruling settles this issue once and for all: Republicans cannot continue to block the upgrades and job benefits of the FAA over a provision that has the force of law, fairness, and common sense behind it.”

As the D.C. Circuit’s majority opinion reads, “For seventy-five years, the National Mediation Board counted non-voters as voting against union representation, thereby requiring a majority of eligible voters to affirmatively vote for representation before a union could be certified.  In 2010, the Board issued a new rule: elections will henceforth be decided by a majority of votes cast, and those not voting will be understood as acquiescing to the outcome of the election.  Appellants challenge the new rule, claiming that it violates the statute and is arbitrary and capricious.  Rejecting these arguments, the district court granted summary judgment to the Board.”

The judicial challenge was led by the Air Transport Association, primarily Delta Air Lines.  With a district court already ruling in the NMB’s favor, today’s appellate court ruling severely damages the claim that the NMB did anything except bring its elections in line with basic democratic principles and the standard followed in every U.S. election. 

“Republican leaders and others obsessed with union-busting are blocking the FAA Reauthorization needlessly over a provision that a series of courts have now declared as fair and valid.  House Republican leaders should admit that their true motive is to deny workers’ their right to a union voice, rather than reach a sensible agreement over the FAA Reauthorization bill,” Johnson said.