Chamber joins suit against union rule

The Chamber filed a motion to intervene as a third-party plaintiff in the Air Transport Association’s (ATA) suit against the National Mediation Board (NMB). The business lobbying group opposes a rule change finalized by the board earlier this month that makes it easier for workers at companies covered by the Railway Labor Act to unionize.

Under the rule, workers who don’t vote in a union election are not counted as votes either for or against forming a union. Such non-votes previously were counted as votes against forming a union, and labor organizers needed to win a majority of a company’s employees’ votes to form a union.

The new rule is expected to trigger more unionization at railway and airline companies that are covered by the law.

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Since the rule change was finalized, it has come under increasing attack from Republicans and business associations.

“Not only has the Board been so bold as to throw out 75 years of precedent to tip the scales in favor of organized labor,” Randel Johnson, the Chamber’s senior vice president of labor, immigration, and employee benefits, said in a statement. “It has done so in a manner that was inherently defective and makes a mockery out of the administrative process.”

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) is gathering support among senators for using the Congressional Review Act to overturn the new rule. The act, rarely used, allows lawmakers to oversee and overturn regulations issued by any executive branch agency. Overturning a rule requires a resolution of disapproval approved by both the Congress and the president soon after the rule is issued. The resolution cannot be filibustered in the Senate.

Unions have defended the new rule and originally petitioned the board for its change.

“For far too long, the NMB rules have provided an upper hand to corporations encouraging voter suppression, while undermining those participating in the union representation election process,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement when the rule was finalized earlier this month. “The new rule issued by the NMB allows for a more fair and consistent democratic process in which a majority of workers participating can have a free and clear choice to join together in a union and gain a voice at work.”