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Senators Call for Fair Elections for Rail & Aviation Workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Chairman of the Appropriations Committee and John Rockefeller (D-WY), Chairman of the Commerce Committee joined by a group of 36 Senators today called on the National Mediation Board to provide fair labor elections for rail and aviation workers. Under current election procedures, a majority of all eligible workers cast a vote for a union in order for those wanting a union to prevail. All workers who do not vote are counted as “no” votes for the union.

Senators Akaka, Boxer, Brown, Burris, Byrd, Cantwell, Cardin, Casey, Dodd, Durbin, Feingold, Franken, Gillibrand, Johnson, Kaufman, Kerry, Kirk, Klobuchar, Lautenberg, Leahy, Levin, McCaskill, Menendez, Merkley, Mikulski, Murray, Reed, Sanders, Schumer, Shaheen, Specter, Stabenow, Tester, Tom Udall, Whitehouse and Wyden joined the Senators in signing this letter.

“Aviation and rail workers should not be subject to a different and more onerous process when deciding whether to choose union representation,” wrote the lawmakers. “Requiring affirmative votes of an absolute majority of eligible employees in order to recognize a union treats rail and aviation workers differently than employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act and U.S. citizens voting for government officials. We strongly encourage the NMB to use its broad discretion in setting its election policies to amend its election procedures to allow a majority of those voting to choose union representation.”

"On behalf of airline and rail workers across the country, we would like to thank Sen. Harkin and 38 of his colleagues for standing up for fairness by supporting the National Mediation Board's proposed rule change. We are grateful for their support for bringing long overdue change to a broken union election process," said Edward Wytkind, President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO.