Press Releases

The Newest Smoke-Screen on FAA Reauthorization Bill: John Mica's Decertification Scheme

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Rep. Mica Again Trying to Divert Attention Away From Fact That He’s Blocking Job-Creating FAA Bill

WASHINGTON D.C. – House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. John Mica (FL-07), today proposed legislation that represents another attempt to attack working Americans at the behest of Delta Air Lines, and could again delay the creation of tens of thousands of good, family-supporting jobs across the country through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Bill.

Mica was the architect of the summer 2011 FAA shut down which put thousands out of work in order to further Delta’s anti-union agenda. This new unrelated proposal stands in the way of thousands of projects and 100,000 jobs modernizing airports and the nation’s aviation infrastructure.

This bill – purportedly about the process of union decertification – ignores the fact that decertification processes already exist.

“Workers have a right to decertify a union under current law. John Mica is not only blurring that simple fact with his latest smokescreen, he’s relying on that and stalling tactics to change the focus from where it belongs – on the fact that he and Delta Air Lines remain insistent on blocking the benefits of the FAA Reauthorization bill over unrelated union provisions,” said CWA Communications Director Candice Johnson.

While the most recent in a series of short-term funding extensions funds FAA operations through January 2012, a multi-year FAA Reauthorization bill has been on hold due to an unrelated provision to count NON voters as “no” voters in union elections. If held to the same standard, no member of Congress would have been elected in 2010.

Below, find an overview on the current decertification process of a union that exists under the NMB:

Removing or Changing a Union under National Mediation Board Procedures

  • The Board’s new rules actually now provide workers with an opportunity to vote “no union” when they no longer want to be represented by a union.
  • Opponents of the NMB’s election rules that allow for a majority of those voting to decide the outcome of an election have falsely claimed that once a union is elected it cannot be removed. This “permanent union” argument is false.
  • Federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have long recognized that employees have the right under the Railway Labor Act (RLA) to reject representation. ABNE, 280 U.S. 650 (1965).
  • In fact, in Russell v. NMB (714 F.2d 1332 (5th Cir. 1983)), the court found that since employees have the right under the RLA to opt for non-representation, the NMB could not refuse to process an application after it was determined that the applicant intended to terminate collective representation if it won the election.
  • An individual employee or group of employees who no longer desire to be represented can solicit a “showing of interest” among their fellow employees, generally through the collection of signed cards. If these employees can show that 50 percent want a new election, then the Board will conduct one. This is the same showing of interest that is required if employees want to replace an existing union representative with another union.
  • Under the old rule if there was a sufficient showing of interest to trigger an election, employees only had the opportunity to vote for the incumbent union or for the representative employee who no longer wanted a union. (See, 7 NMB 284 (1980); 7 NMB 392 (1980)). Under the old rule there was no opportunity for dissatisfied workers to actually cast a vote for “no union.”.
  • In contrast, the new rule now give workers the opportunity to affirmatively cast a ballot for “no union” in an election designed to remove a union. If a majority of those casting a vote so choose, the workers will no longer be represented.
  • The Board has always treated all representation elections in the same manner – whether the election was to form a union or remove a union. The new rule continues this course and applies equally to all elections. Thus, under the new rule, a simple majority of those who participate in an election seeking to decertify a representative decides the outcome.
  • In addition to the ability to remove a union, workers can change unions. At Northwest Airlines for example, flight attendants were represented by the Teamsters starting in 1976, but in 2003 these employees chose to remove that union and replace it with the Professional Flight Attendants Association. Then in 2006, the flight attendants voted to remove PFAA and replace it with the Association of Flight Attendants.

Contact: Chuck Porcari cporcari@cwa-union.orgor Liz Schilling< 202-434-1168