Ever since Obama was sworn in, obscure federal agencies have been churning out pro-labor, anti-worker rulemakings in an attempt to reverse declining unionization numbers. Indicative of this unionization through regulation strategy is the National Mediation Board’s (NMB) minority rule decision promulgated in 2009.
The NMB is a three-member board comprised of one Bush holdover and two Obama appointees–both of which are former union officials–tasked with overseeing union-employer relations in the transportation industry. The makeup of the board effectively gives the pro-union board members fiat to enact whatever policies or regulations they see fit. Unsurprisingly, the NMB’s first major decision was a move to facilitate unionization in the transportation industry.
Overturning seventy-five years of precedent and two Supreme Court rulings, the NMB ruled that a majority of voting members were required to certify a union, not a majority of all members of a workforce. For two years now, conservative activists and Members of Congress have written letters and introduced legislation attempting to annul this blatant federal overreach. These efforts have finally culminated in tangible legislation, Title IX of the FAA Reauthorization bill, which would overturn the NMB’s minority rule decision.
Barely making it out of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Democrats, at the behest of organized labor, offered an amendment to remove Title IX from the FAA reauthorization bill. Republicans managed to quash this amendment by the razor thin margin of 30-29, losing three Republicans in the process.
Expected to come to the House floor next week with Title IX intact, there is sure to be another amendment to, once again, expunge the pro-worker provision from the FAA bill. The impending vote over whether or not Title IX ends up on the cutting room floor is a harbinger and will be the first major labor vote of the 112th Congress. Big Labor knows this. Unions know that if they can kill this provision, Republicans will think twice about picking fights with unions again.
It is hard to understate the importance of this vote. If conservatives lose and Title IX is removed from the bill, the National Labor Relations Board, Department of Labor, and National Mediation Board will be afforded the breathing room they need to implement a morass of pending pro-labor initiatives. Furthermore, victory is far from assured. Congressmen representing union-heavy districts are eager to appease unions in hopes of avoiding unnecessary pain during their next election.
To get an idea of how your Representative will vote next week, constituents should look at how their Congressperson voted on an amendment to the Continuing Resolution which would have ended Project Labor Agreements–the federal practice which encourages federal construction contracts to be awarded to labor unions. If your Representative voted “Aye” on the PLA amendment, they will almost certainly vote to keep Title IX in the FAA reauthorization bill. If they voted “Nay,” well, you should probably give them a call and urge them to make sure Title IX is included in final passage of the FAA bill.
The Title IX vote is over whether or not Representatives want Congress to dictate labor laws or the National Mediation Board.