Impact of Rule Change in 2010 by NMB

Impactof Rule Change in 2010 by NMB

TheNational Mediation Board is a bureau that coordinateslabor-management relations within the United States railroads andairline industries. The board is an autonomous entity, which wasfounded after the amendments to the Railway Labor Act of 1926. Apanel composed of three people who are appointed by the presidentheads it. Its primary aim is to maintain an integrated process ofdispute resolution with an objective of minimizing strikes and othercauses of work stoppages in the railroad and airline industries.

Inthe year 2010, the National Mediation Board amended the Railway LaborAct in order to enable employees to make clear choices while theyrepresent the issues affecting them. Further, the changes aimed atproviding a more reliable gauge of establishing the level ofemployee’s sentiments. For a period of seventy years, prior to theNational Mediation Board rule change, the primary difference in themode of counting election results was that the board countednon-voters as voting against union’s representation. As a result,it became necessary that for a union to be certified as a bargainingrepresentative, it had to obtain a majority of all eligible voters tocast ballots in its favor (Air Transport Association of America,Inc., v. National Mediation Board, et al., 2011).

Tocorrect the situation, the board changed its approach in severalrespects.

First,it decided to increase the option of “no union “on the ballotpapers. This was to allow employees to vote against a unionrepresentation with assent.

Second,the board decided that it would no longer interpret an absentee voteras a vote against union representation. In case of voter absenteeism,the board shall explain their intentions as per the “politicalprinciple of majority” which provides that those who fail to voteagree to the expressed will of the majority.

Third,the board set a new rule that provided “a majority of valid ballotscast will determine the unions representative&quot.The boardexplained the rule by taking note of the political context wherenonvoters are assumed to agree to the outcome of the elections sayingthat the assumption better captures what the absentees intend toconvey. The board also noted the various reasons that might causevoter absenteeism including travel, illness, and lack of interest ortheir preference not to register their opinion (Air TransportAssociation of America, Inc., v. National Mediation Board, et al.,2011).

Theoverall beneficiary from the changed rules was the National MediationBoard. The decisions by the courts made it easier for the board tofurther its functions that include administering union representationelections. The rule has also made it easier for unions to winrepresentative elections by making a provision that requires unionsto obtain only a majority of those voting. This is in contrast to theprevious rule that required votes from half the eligible voters. As aresult, the National Mediation Board will record more unionsnecessary in designing collective bargaining agreements. Further,union activism will reduce the over-reliance on federal agencies todo some of the things that the Congress is not supposed to do hencefocusing on more important issues.

Employeesbenefited from the collective rights to determine theirrepresentative. Further, with the changes employees gained from theability to make clear choices while presenting issues and from a morereliable gauge of establishing the level of employee’s sentiments.The changes served as an end to a more than seventy-year-old practiceof imposing a viewpoint on people who do not participate inelections. The elections were made more transparent and able toreflect the true will of the employees that vote. The unionsbenefited from the new process by which elections were helddemocratically. They could obtain an exact presentation of theemployees. Their requirements for elections were relaxed, made mucheasier and open (Air Transport Association of America, Inc., v.National Mediation Board, et al., 2011).

Itis believed that the changes were politically motivated. People feltthat the change was a deliberate move by the Obama administration totilt representation processes to favor unions as a way of reducingthe duties of federal agencies and the courts.

Incontrast, there were individuals who felt that the manner in whichthe policy change was developed is highly questionable. They arguedthe process of promulgation was not deliberate as it did not allowand consider comments put forth by stakeholders (Air TransportAssociation of America, Inc., v. National Mediation Board, et al.,2011).

Further,there were people who criticized presidents Obamas recessappointments to the NLRB. Fingers were pointed to the nomination ofCraig Becker, who was the former general counsel to the fastestgrowing labor union Service Employees International Union (SIEU). Thebusiness community expressed a strong objection against hisappointment because he will use the rulemaking authority of the NLRBcreate a pro-union agenda. The changes in the National MediationBoard gave employers the indication that employers would facestronger unionization efforts (Air Transport Association of America,Inc., v. National Mediation Board, et al., 2011).


AirTransport Association of America, Inc., v. National Mediation Board,et al. (2011). UnitedStates Court Of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit,Lexis Nexis.

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