National Mediation Board decision will treat rail and aviation workers the same as other employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, praised today's National Mediation Board decision to provide fair labor elections for rail and aviation workers.  The updated regulations were published in this morning's Federal Register.

Current election procedures treat rail and aviation workers differently from workers in other industries and U.S. citizens voting for government officials.  In order to gain union representation, a majority of all eligible rail and aviation workers must cast a vote for the union to prevail.  Workers who do not vote are counted as "no" votes against unionization.  Non-voters in elections held outside the rail and aviation industries are counted as abstentions, meaning that a simple majority of votes cast is all that is required. 

The updated regulations will allow a majority of those voting to choose union representation, putting rail and aviation workers on par with other workers.

"These regulations will ensure that aviation and rail workers have the same right to join a union as other workers in our country," Senator Harkin said. "I applaud the NMB's decision to amend its election procedures and bring basic fairness to workers in these critical industries.  NMB's long overdue rule change ensures that all American workers will have a voice in the workplace and a right to fair wages and work conditions."

In December of 2009, Harkin, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Chairman of the Appropriations Committee and Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WY), Chairman of the Commerce Committee were joined by Senators Akaka (D-HI), Boxer (D-CA), Brown (D-OH), Burris (D-IL), Byrd (D-WV), Cantwell (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Casey (D-PA), Dodd (D-CT), Durbin (D-IL), Feingold (D-WI), Franken (D-MN), Gillibrand (D-NY), Johnson (D-SD), Kaufman (D-DE), Kerry (D-MA), Kirk (D-MA), Klobuchar (D-MN), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Leahy (D-VT), Levin (D-MI), McCaskill (D-MO), Menendez (D-NJ), Merkley (D-OR), Mikulski (D-MD), Murray (D-WA), Reed (D-RI), Sanders (I-VT), Schumer (D-NY), Shaheen (D-NH), Specter (D-PA), Stabenow (D-MI), Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Whitehouse (D-RI) and Wyden (D-OR) in sending a letter to the National Mediation Board advocating for this change.  Click here to access the full text of the letter:

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