National Journal reports that House and Senate leaders have announced an agreement on the long-awaited reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  The deal includes Republicans backing down on their effort to reverse the May 2010 rule issued by the National Mediation Board (NMB) which changed the 75 year-old method for counting votes in union representation elections under the Railway Labor Act (RLA):

Republican leaders agreed to remove the offending language in the FAA bill that would have rescinded a National Mediation Board rule set under the Obama administration that makes it easier for rail and aviation workers to unionize. The remaining disputes between Republicans and Democrats on the measure have been worked out in a gentlemen’s agreement among congressional transportation gurus.

In exchange for Republicans dropping the NMB rule recission, Democrats have agreed to include a provision that would raise the threshold for rail and aviation workers expressing interest in forming a union from 35 percent to 50 percent. This would mark the first time that an FAA reauthorization included any NMB changes, which is likely to make organized labor uncomfortable. But it also appeases Republicans who were angered by the original Obama administration rule that nonvoting aviation and rail workers do not count as "no" votes in unionization elections.

Lawmakers also have agreed to public hearings for all substantial NMB rule-making and tweaks to the manner in which runoff elections will be held. (The procedural change will make it easier for a "no union" option to win.) The deal also includes several oversight reports from the Government Accountability Office.

Our previous coverage of the issue: