In the 1950s, unions represented as much as 39 percent of the private sector workforce. Today, only 7 percent of the private sector is unionized.
Desperate to reverse that trend, President Obama’s two appointees to the National Mediation Board changed rules for airline and railway union elections in May and stacked the deck in favor of unionization.
The two appointees to the three-member panel are the former president of the Association of Flight Attendants and a former president of a pilot’s union.
At the request of the AFL-CIO, they voted to change administrative regulations under the Railway Labor Act so that a smaller percentage of workers is required to organize a workplace.
Before the change, “the majority of any craft or class of employees” had the right to determine who shall represent them, which is the language of the act. Now the support of a majority of the workforce is no longer required. Instead, a majority of those who vote determines the outcome.
As a result, in Delta Air Lines’ flight attendant workforce of 20,000, for example, if only 5,000 employees voted, and 2,501 of those employees say they wanted to join a union, the union would be certified to represent the entire workforce.
The Obama appointees also changed the rules so there is no direct procedure for decertifying a union if employees no longer wish to be represented.
For years, Delta’s flight attendants have voted against joining a union. Even with the new rules in place, they rejected union representation in November. They did so even though Delta has now merged with Northwest Airlines, which was unionized.
It’s not hard to see why: Northwest’s 7,000 unionized flight attendants are paid less than Delta’s 13,000 non-unionized flight attendants.
“We believe the reason they don’t want a union is they don’t want to pay union dues for nothing,” Joanne Smith, senior vice president of in-flight service for Delta, tells me.
In a sign of the unions’ desperation, the Association of Flight Attendants has said it will file an interference claim against Delta. What did Delta do wrong?
According to the union, it “inundated” workers with literature, e-mails, and phone calls urging them to vote.
The reminders were “not meant to be innocuous,” Daniel Gray, a union officer, told The Associated Press. According to Gray, they were meant to say, “Vote against the union.”
The election is the largest at a private sector company since 1941, when more than 70,000 Ford Motor Co. plant workers joined a union. Because of what it says about American workers’ attitudes toward unions and the Obama administration’s efforts to prop them up, the election’s significance goes well beyond Delta.
For years, Democrats have tried without success to rig union certification elections through so-called card check legislation. Incredibly, the measure would open up elections on union representation to pressure and intimidation by doing away with voting by secret ballot.
Having failed to pass card check, “This rule change is a way for the Obama administration to unionize through regulation, because they can’t unionize through legislation,” says Andrea Newman, Delta’s senior vice president for government affairs.
Unions did not contribute $400 million to Obama and other Democrats in the 2008 election for nothing.
“We have been told by Democrats inside and outside the administration, ‘Elections have consequences,’” Newman says.
While that may be true, look for hearings and possible legislation in the new Congress to block the administration’s effort to stack the deck in favor of unions.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via e-mail. Go here now.
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