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Legislative Update January 2012

BLET National Contract Ratified by the Members

 

The votes are in and BLET members have approved the national contract by a 2-to-1 margin. The new collective bargaining agreement with the National Carriers’ Conference Committee is retroactive to January 1, 2010. The following is from a BLET Newsflash posted on January 5, 2011:

“The agreement largely reflects the recommendations of Presidential Emergency Board 243, which was appointed on the eve of a pending nationwide strike by BLET members. The PEB recommendations provided a better outcome for BLET members than the carrier’s proposal by recommending the phasing in of the larger portions of the health and welfare changes over an 18-month period, rather than instituting all of them immediately.

“The BLET’s National Wage Committee, led by National President Dennis R. Pierce, then secured a Flexible Spending Account benefit to help offset any possible increased costs associated with the health and welfare, as well as a clarification to PEB 243’s ambiguous recommendation that a 1% signing bonus only be paid on an employee’s ‘straight time’ earnings.”

In that same newsflash, President Pierce thanked all of those who took the time to cast their vote by the January 5 deadline, and stated that there was a “very solid turnout,” especially given that the voting took place over the holiday season.

 

Another Victory for Labor Unions!

Here’s some good news to start off the new year—The U.S. Court of Appeals has upheld the lower court decision that said that the National Mediation Board (NMB) acted legally in June 2010 when it changed the rule governing union representation elections for transportation labor unions. The NMB’s new rule made union representation elections the same as all other elections in America, where the majority of those who vote make the decision as to whether or not there will be union representation. As you may recall, we had been following H.R. 658, the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act, which contains language that would overturn the NMB rule change. Prior to that rule change, the NMB rules governing representation elections in the railroad and aviation industries counted workers who did not vote in these elections as having voted against representation.

Following the enactment of the new rule, the airline industry challenged the rule in federal court in Washington, arguing that the NMB acted arbitrarily and ignored requirements of the 1926 Railway Labor Act. The Air Transportation Association of America, Inc., joined by the Chamber of Commerce and five Delta Airlines employees, claimed that the rule violated their First Amendment rights. The lower court ruled against the plaintiffs without a trial, and that decision was upheld by the U.S. Court of appeals on December 16, 2011.

Despite our efforts and those of several other labor unions to have the anti-union language removed from H.R. 658, the bill passed in the House on April 1, 2011. The Senate version of the bill, which did not contain the anti-union language, passed on April 7, 2011. A conference committee will now work out the differences in the two versions of the bill. Based on the ruling of the courts, it makes sense that the final version should not contain the clause referring to overturning the NMB rule change.

It is pretty clear that the true motive of those congressional Republicans who used the Federal Aviation Administration funding bill as a leverage to overturn the NMB rule change, is to further their anti-union agenda by denying workers their right to a union voice. Many thanks to all of you who supported the efforts to retain the NMB’s 2010 rule change.

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