Airlines sue to block pro-union rule


Seattle-based Alaska Airlines has joined an industry lawsuit seeking to block a rule that would make it easier for unions to win disputes over who represents airline and rail workers.

The National Mediation Board holds elections to resolve representation disputes. On May 11, the board published a final rule changing the threshold for a union win from receiving votes from a majority of eligible workers to votes from a majority of workers who actually vote. The change is set to take effect June 10.

“This new rule turns 75 years of history on its head without compelling justification,” the Air Transport Association, an airline industry group, said in a news release announcing its legal challenge.

ATA believes that the National Mediation Board failed to identify any material change in circumstances to support the new election procedure – a procedure that it last rejected only two years ago. The NMB decision to abandon an election procedure that the Supreme Court twice has upheld, which has allowed unions to effectively organize the rail and aviation industries, and which has served the public interest in avoiding disruptions to the vital national aviation and rail transportation systems, is both disappointing and puzzling. ATA looks forward to a quick resolution to this case, so that airlines and their employees can move forward together and more efficiently address their mutual goals.

In addition to Alaska Airlines, ATA members ABX Air, AirTran Airways, ASTAR Air Cargo, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, Evergreen International Airlines, Federal Express, Hawaiian Airlines and JetBlue Airways are taking part in the lawsuit.