Republicans slam union rule change

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said Monday he wants to stop a federal rule change by the Obama administration that could make it easier for railway and airline employees to form unions.


The National Mediation Board issued its final rule Monday that changed how workers could unionize at companies covered by the Railway Labor Act. Originally, a majority of workers at a company covered by the law had to vote for a union while those not voting were counted as “no” votes.

Under the new rule made final on Monday, if a majority of workers who cast votes said they wanted to form a union, the company would be unionized. Workers who fail to vote will not count for either side.

Isakson said the board had no authority to make the change, which he described as an assault on employee rights.

“The National Mediation Board simply does not have the legal authority to make such a radical change without congressional authorization,” Isakson said in a statement. “With this rule change, a union could be permanently recognized without a majority of employees having ever supported representation.”

Isakson said he would look into using the Congressional Review Act to overturn the decision. The act allows lawmakers to oversee and overturn regulations issued by any executive branch agency.

The law is rarely used, and to overturn a rule requires a resolution of disapproval approved by both the Congress and the president in the few months after the rule is issued. The resolution cannot be filibustered in the Senate.

Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), the ranking member of the House Education and Labor Committee, also slammed the rule change, saying the board “imposed a quick fix at the behest of organized labor.”

The original rule was in place for decades. But the AFL-CIO said it was undemocratic and requested a rule change in September of last year. Business groups had lobbied against the change.