The next round in the GOP’s anti-union push

THE NEXT ROUND IN THE GOP’S ANTI-UNION PUSH…. It’s been challenging to keep up with all the union-busting schemes we’ve seen in recent months at the state level, but let’s not forget that congressional Republicans are eyeing a similar agenda.

This week, as federal lawmakers return to work, we’re likely to see action on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill. That may not sound like an especially interesting or high-profile piece of legislation, but as Sam Stein and Laura Bassett recently explained, there’s a key labor provision that matters quite a bit.

The goal, in this case, is the Republican drive to make it much more difficult for rail or aviation workers to unionize.

Sponsored by House Transportation Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) — a major recipient of campaign contributions from the airline industry, totaling more than $620,000 in his career — the controversial provision states if an eligible voter fails to vote for union representation, he or she will be tallied as an active vote against representation.

Such a policy, which puts an extra burden on union organizers to round up all voters, rather than a simple majority, existed up until last July, when the federal National Mediation Board, which adjudicates labor-management disputes, ruled that absent votes ought not be counted against unionization. Labor officials hailed that decision as one of their signature victories last year, and the proposal to strip it away has sparked an equally emotional reaction.

“This was the one advancement that you had seen in organizing rights and here they have launched an all-out effort in the House to go after unions again,” said Shane Larson, the legislative director for the Communications Workers of America. “Currently, this is the biggest issue federally right now in terms of organizing rights. There is nothing else that is on the table.”

This is just straight up union-busting, plain and simple. If aviation and rail workers want to unionize, as they should, they’ll have a very difficult hurdle to clear.

This may sound complicated, but it’s pretty straightforward — under the status quo, the workers would get together and hold a vote. The majority wins. Under the Republican idea, workers who don’t participate in the vote would be counted as “no” votes.

To help drive home the point that this isn’t a fair approach, the Communication Workers of America are circulating a report today, noting that of the recently-elected members of Congress, literally all of them would have lost if their non-voting constituents were counted as having voted against them.

A vote on the House floor is expected Thursday.