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Airlines and Unions Clash Over Rule Change

May 11, 2010 By: George Dooley

Relations between airlines and unions may face new strains as the Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the trade organization for the leading United States airlines, threatened a judicial review in response to the National Mediation Board (NMB) issuing a voting rule change for union representation.

“We continue to believe the National Mediation Board does not have legal authority to implement this rule, one that undoubtedly will lead to more labor discord,” ATA said in a statement.  “It is quite clear to us that the NMB was determined to proceed despite the proposed rule’s substantive and procedural flaws, leaving us no choice but to seek judicial review.”

The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) countered by saying it welcomes the National Mediation Board’s rule change “that ends the policy of counting workers who do not cast ballots in an election as having cast a “no” vote against union representation.”

“This long-overdue policy change brings fairness back into the union election system,” said Captain John Prater, ALPA’s president. “This action modernizes balloting policy by determining the outcome based on the majority of votes actually cast, rather than presuming that those who do not cast ballots are voting against union representation.”

ALPA has long favored removing this fundamental bias, which is unique to railroad and airline employees. ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing nearly 53,000 pilots at 38 airlines in the U.S. and Canada.

The NMB is a federal independent agency charged with fostering harmonious labor-management relations within the railroads and airlines. Visit or or


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