November 28, 2014

Preserve democracy in air, rail rep votes

Your help is needed, as will be explained in the following article.

Imagine an election for Congress where the number of eligible voters NOT voting is added to the vote total of the candidate receiving the fewest actual votes, thereby making the election’s loser actually the winner.

As confusing and foolish as that sounds, it is precisely what some in Congress want to happen with airline and railroad union representation elections conducted by the National Mediation Board.

As one cannot assume that those NOT voting in a congressional election would have voted against the winner, Congress cannot assume that those NOT voting in a union-representation election would have voted against the union.

As the winner of congressional elections is determined by those actually voting, so should union representation elections be determined. Not to do so turns democratic principles on their head.

And this leads us to another election — an election on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives next week in which House lawmakers will consider legislation to tilt the scales against airline and railroad unions.

The bill, H.R. 658, has a provision specific to airline and railroad representation elections. It requires that the number of eligible voters who do NOT vote be considered to have voted AGAINST union representation. That’s union busting, pure and simple.

An amendment will be offered on the House floor to strip that provision from H.R. 658, assuring airline and railroad representation elections follow the same democratic process as elections for Congress, the White House, the local PTA, and virtually every other election in America.

UTU members and retirees can assist in gaining support for the amendment to H.R. 658 by contacting your representative and asking them to vote in favor of the amendment to H.R. 658.

To contact your House member, click on the following link, and then type in your address and zip code to receive the name and direct office phone number of your representative:

www.contactingthecongress.org/

Here is some background on why the amendment should be adopted:

  • Foremost, the amendment has nothing to do with so-called “card check,” a process whereby unions would be deemed winners of a representation election solely based on signed application cards. Airline and railroad representation elections will continue to be conducted by secret ballot.
  • The amendment assures a 2010 decision by the NMB — to modernize its representation-vote procedures — will remain intact so that airline and railroad representation elections are conducted by the same democratic procedures as every other American election.

Why did the NMB modernize its representation election procedures in 2010?

  • To assure the democratic principle that elections be decided by those actually vote.
  • Because the 75-year-old previous procedure — to demonstrate to employers that their workers overwhelmingly preferred an independent labor union to a company union controlled by management — is no longer valid given that company unions are now unlawful.
  • Because the 75-year-old previous procedure — to guard against racial discrimination and better assure access to ballots by African-American workers — is no longer valid given the subsequent enactment of civil rights laws.
  • Because substantially improved reading comprehension skills and ubiquitous methods of communication now assure workers understand the meaning of a representation election. The majority participation requirement no longer is necessary to spur “spreading of the word” and education of workers as to the issues.
  • No longer is there a credible concern that a handful of Communist agitators might use intimidation to limit voting, control the outcome and then engage in militancy.

Changed times and circumstances require that airline and railroad representation elections follow the same democratic principles as congressional and all other elections. Passage of the amendment to H.R. 658 will assure this.

Again, to contact your House member and ask them to support the amendment to H.R. 658, click on the following link, and then type in your address and zip code to receive the name and direct office phone number of your U.S. House representative:

www.contactingthecongress.org/