The National Mediation Board (NMB) announced changes to its representational manual that are scheduled to take effect March 25, 2013. These changes incorporate into NMB procedure amendments to the Railway Labor Act passed by Congress on February 14, 2012 and regulations implemented by NMB on December 12, 2012, as well other procedural concerns. The changes affect the showing of interest needed to file an application for representation, voting procedures, and the process for submitting an eligible voter list for representation elections.
Showing of Interest Changes: The new NMB manual reflects changes to showing of interest requirements mandated by Congress in the Federal Aviation Modernization Reform Act of 2012. Beginning March 25, 2013, the NMB will require all applications for investigation of a representation dispute to be support by 50 percent of the individuals in the targeted craft or class. In its rules published in the federal register December 12, 2012, the NMB clarified that, unlike under its prior rules, no application for representation will be considered unless it has the requisite 50 percent support. This includes applications filed by intervenors and applications filed by incumbent organization or individuals after a merger, each of which had previously only required a 35 percent showing of interest.
Voting Procedure Changes: The new voting procedure changes contained in the manual are intended to simplify the process for voting employees. Prior to the changes, voters were required to enter both a voter identification number and a personal identification number. After March 25, voters will be required to enter a single access code. The access code will be randomly generated and known only to the voter and the NMB agents.
Eligible Voter List Changes: Beginning March 25, 2013, the NMB will require eligible voter list submitted by carriers in response to an application for representation to be attested to by a carrier officer. The new manual defines an appropriate carrier officer as “a vice president of labor relations or equivalent.” The purpose of the new attestation requirement is to better ensure the accuracy of eligibility lists that had been criticized by unions as containing too many names of employees carriers know are not eligible to vote.
Conclusion: The NMB’s implementation of its new rules on March 25 will impact interested parties differently. Unions appear to be the parties that will be most adversely impacted by the NMB’s new rules. They will no longer be able to rely on reduced showings of interest to support applications for representation, regardless of the situation. Carriers have been placed on notice that the accuracy of eligibility lists is an issue that requires greater attention than may have previously been necessary. Carrier officers must now accept personal responsibility for their accuracy. Finally, employees benefit from new voting procedures. The new procedures modernize the voting process while maintaining a sense of confidentiality necessary for taint-free representation elections.