Role of National Mediation Board

Topics: Trade union, Voting, Railway Labor Act Pages: 5 (2083 words) Published: July 26, 2012
Role of National Mediation Board
By Josh Tran
Course: Aviation Labor Relations (AVM 4630)
February 22, 2012
Instructor: Zane Kelleher

The National Mediation Board’s role under the Railway Labor Act is to mediate and assist labor and management at railroads and airlines reach agreements and settle disputes. However, one of the most important events that change how the role of the Board of National Mediation. “On August 19, 2010, the National Mediation Board (NMB) posted on its website the updated section of its Representation Manual reflecting the rules changes implemented in July of this year.  In May 2010, the NMB announced that it was changing a decades-old rule regarding the way votes are counted in RLA union representation elections.  The new standard, the "majority of votes cast" standard, is essentially the standard applied by the National Labor Relations Board in elections under the NLRA -- a union is declared the representative of a unit of employees if a majority of the employees who cast valid ballots vote for union representation.  In June, a federal judge granted judgment for NMB in a suit challenging the new rules, allowing the Board to proceed with implementation” (Borden, 2010). The National Mediation Board changed the Railway Labor Act’s voting rule without any regard to the worker at all. Whether to join a union or not should belong to the workers, not union organizers or political parties. A brief history about the National Mediation Board: “The National Mediation Board was established by the 1934 amendments to the Railway Labor Act of 1926. It is an independent agency that performs a central role in facilitating harmonious labor and management relations within two of the nation's key transportation modes, the railroads and the airlines. Pursuant to the Railway Labor Act, National Mediation Board programs provide an integrated dispute resolution process to effectively meet the statutory objective of minimizing work stoppages in the airline and railroad industries… The purpose of mediation under the Railway Labor Act is to foster the prompt and orderly resolution of collective bargaining disputes in the railroad and airline industries. These disputes, referred to as "major" disputes, involve the establishment or revision of rates of pay, rules, or working conditions. The parties should attempt to resolve collective bargaining disputes through direct negotiations. Failing that, either party may request the Board's services or the Board may involve itself on its own initiative. In its mediatory role, the Board may employ a variety of methods, including traditional mediation, interest-based problem solving, or facilitation. The Board views the objective of mediation as assistance to the parties in achieving agreement and sees the role of the mediator as an active participant in the process as a key to that assistance (NMB website). “Under the Railway Labor Act, union organizers must obtain signed authorization cards from at least 35 percent of the employees in a given bargaining unit—also known as “class” or “craft”—across the entire organization, rather than the 30 percent required under the NLRA. This requirement is supposed to show interest in union representation by the employees. The National Mediation Board (NMB) oversees union elections under the RLA. It consists of three members appointed by the President of the United States. Currently, two of the NMB’s three members are former union officials. The National Mediation Board (NMB) oversees union elections under the RLA. It consists of three members appointed by the President of the United States. Currently, two of the NMB’s three members are former union officials. The agency is now trying to aid the unions in their dispute with Delta. Here is how” (Brown & Osorio, 2011). Until recently, the NMB have changed the rule of voting for representation. Not only that, “…the NLRA, by contrast, allows employees to hold an election to decertify a...

Cited: Borden, Seth. (August 24, 2010). National Mediation Board Issues Revised Representation Manual. Labor Relation Today. Retrieved from
Brown, Russ & Osorio, Iavan. (February 24, 2011). The Case for Reform of the Railway Labor Act. Competitive Enterprise Institute. Retrieved from
Isakson, Johnny, U.S Senator. (September 23, 2010). U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson Floor Statement on Administration Attempts to Ease Path to Unionization Remarks as Delivered on the Senate Floor. Retrieved from
Kaps, Robert W. (1997). Air Transport Labor Relations. Southern Illinois University Press series in aviation management.
Michels, Jennifer. (November 2, 2009). NMB Opens Door to Union Election Changes. Aviation Week. Retrieved from
National Mediation Board (NMB). NMB Mission and Key Functions. Retrieved from
Ostermayer, Jeff. March 31, 2011. Manufacturers Oppose Amendment to Unfairly Alter Union Election Rules. National Association of Manufacturers. Retrieved from
Yamanouchi, Kelly. (November 2, 2009). Union Vote Rule Change Vexes Delta. Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved from
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