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Rule change enhances union organising rights in the US
14 May 2010
Labour organisations in the US have applauded a federal agency’s ground-breaking decision to change a rule in transport to make it easier for unions to organise.
On 10 May, the National Mediation Board (NMB), which manages industrial relations in the airline and railway sectors, published a change in the rules governing union elections. The new rule allows workers to join or form a union if a majority of employees vote in favour; previously, under the Railway Labor Act (RLA), those who did not participate in a union election were considered to have voted against union representation. The amendment, which unions have campaigned for, affects more than 570,000 airline and railway employees.
Teamsters general president Jim Hoffa stated: “Workers who want to form unions are looking for job security and peace of mind. By changing the rule, the NMB has levelled the playing field, giving workers a fairer chance to form unions.
“I’m pleased with this decision by the NMB and I’m proud of the work the Teamsters Union has done to ensure this change happened.”
Meanwhile James C Little, president of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) of America, said on Monday: “Today, workers employed by airlines and railroads finally found democracy in the workplace. In America, we usually count votes except if you work in transportation and then we counted people who didn’t vote. TWU lost elections in the past because many supposed voters were on leave or in the hospital or unreachable - every non-vote counted against our union.”
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