The 2010 rule change is a radical departure from the Railway Labor Act’s (RLA) mandate that a majority of workers in the craft or group being organized should approve the union as bargaining representative before the National Mediation Board (NMB). Under the new law, the NMB should recognize a labor organization if a majority of employees who turned out to vote in favor of a union did so, even if a high percentage of all workers did not. For reformers, workers’ fears of being coerced into voting are significant points of contention. RLA unionization efforts have been hampered by employer suppression tactics, such as the official destruction of ballots, for decades (Casetext, 2011). The easiest way to prevent a union from organizing on business property is to incentivize workers not to take part in a ballot, per conventional regulations. A firm can influence a union election if it can persuade its employees not to participate in the vote.
Interfering with the results of an election is a significant problem because it goes against RLA, or the right to organize freely. Throughout the board’s existence, election interference has occurred frequently, making it one of the NMB’s top priorities to examine all such cases. The court’s ruling discusses the Air Transport Association’s (ATA) statutory argument under the RLA’s actual language. The RLA specifies that most workers in a given occupation or group of employees get to choose their representative for statutory reasons (Casetext, 2011). ATA argued that the RLA’s plain language should be taken at its value and that the ‘majority of electors’ criteria under the new rule were counter to that law. Since the RLA is unclear how workers may express their ability to choose a representative, the court dismissed ATA’s claim and believed the alleged terms to be vague.
Casetext. (2011). Air Transp. Ass’n of America, Inc. v. Nat’l Mediation Bd. Web.