The Corner

Are Workers Choosing Unions, or Are Unions Choosing Them?

What if we lived in a country where private employees were forced to unionize, even if most hadn’t agreed to? Spoiler alert: We do — thanks to the recent decision of an unelected three-person panel.

This new reality came about in 2010, when a voting rule enacted through the Railway Labor Act was stripped away by the National Mediation Board (NMB). This resulted in the potential for groups of railroad and airline workers to be unionized without the majority of them being in favor of it. Now, only a majority of those who choose to vote, as opposed to a majority of the total, are needed to unionize. To allow the fate of the majority of workers to be decided by only a small handful is not only undemocratic — it fails to protect private-industry workers at a time when they need it the most.

Not only does this new rule disregard a fair and democratic precedent that’s been maintained in the industry for 75 years, it does so in the face of an American public fed up with regulatory agencies’ infringing upon private industry. In a time when our country is clearly calling for less intrusion on free enterprise in order to stimulate our weak economy and create more jobs, why should union bosses be allowed to unfairly take control of more industries for their own political incentives?

What’s more appalling is the argument that reinstating the 75-year-old democratic rule somehow hinders union organization. To the contrary, union representation has been the result in more than two-thirds of the 1,850 elections reported since 1935. An average of 72 percent of employees in these industries are represented by unions.

This week, my colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2011. This bill includes a provision to reverse this NMB decision. It would restore fairness and integrity to the choice to unionize.

As Americans continue to call for a stronger economy, less spending, and more jobs, we cannot stand idly by and let union leaders push fairness and democracy aside. With the House voting on the FAA Reauthorization Bill this week, we have a chance to make our country a place where people choose unions again — instead of unions choosing them.

Rep. Phil Gingrey is a Republican congressman from Georgia.

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