With all of the attention focused on the National Labor Relations Board these days, many people may not realize that there is another labor board that governs labor relations exclusively in the airlines and railroad industries. That labor board is the National Mediation Board (or NMB) and serves to enforce the 1926 Railway Labor Act.
Right now, the NMB has its hands full with an ugly fight between unions that has just gotten uglier amid allegations of one of the unions forging signatures as three unions fight for which union(s) gets to claim $15 million per year union dues.
Since last year, the Teamsters have been targeting members of the two unions that currently represent workers at the soon-to-be-merged American Airlines and US Airways–the Transport Workers Union and the International Association of Machinists, respectively.
In response to the Teamsters’ raid on both unions, the Machinists and TWU agreed to fight the raid together, as well as to “co-represent” the mechanics of both airlines once the merger between AA and US Airways concludes.
In May, the Teamsters filed an application with the NMB to hold an election among American Airlines’ and US Airways mechanics.
The TWU, in challenging the Teamsters application filing at the NMB, has alleged that the Teamsters are relying upon signatures forged by the Teamsters’ organizers.
According to The Street, the TWU turned in affidavits from two of the Teamsters’ organizers:
Names and titles have been redacted from the affidavits. In one, the IBT organizer said, “There were multiple cards from the same workers with different signatures (and) there were authorization cards from at least 1,500 workers who had never been seen, spoken to or assessed.” He said the person who submitted the cards had been sent from Tulsa to another site to work for six months before resigning.
In the second affidavit, an organizer said he was told that rather than visit workers another organizer “sat in his car and filled out house call sheets and falsely signed authorization cards.” He added, “I was also told that there were situations where one card came in from the real worker and another from (redacted) and they could see the signatures were different.” But “IBT chose to ignore the issue,” he said. [Emphasis added.]
As union organizers are not generally know for being above board, one must wonder if the Teamsters organizers sudden good consciences aren’t, in part, the result of the organizers’ own experiences in unionizing within the Teamsters and the union’s hypocritical hardball tactics in bargaining a contract with the union organizers’ union.
Whatever the case, Obama’s “other” labor board, the National Mediation Board, is now assigned with ferreting out the truth and determining whether the Teamsters have enough signatures to proceed with an election to oust the TWU.
Whether union politics will come into play is an unknown.
Unlike its union-dominated counterpart, the NLRB, the National Mediation Board only has three members–as opposed to the NLRB’s five.
However, like the NLRB, the President has stacked the board with actual union bosses.
The chairman, Linda Puchala, is former the International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO and Staff Director, Michigan State Employees Association, AFSCME, AFL-CIO.
The other sitting member, Harry Hoglander, was Master Chairman of TWA’s Master Executive Council. He was also elected Executive Vice-President of the Air Line Pilots Association.
The third position is currently vacant.
Both the TWU and the Machinists are part of the AFL-CIO–the same union federation that both of the NMB’s board members hail from. The Teamsters, however, left the AFL-CIO in 2005 and there is still animosity between Teamsters boss James P. Hoffa and AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka (who backed Hoffa’s predecessor in the 19990s).
Whatever the outcome on the forgery issue, the fight between the Teamsters and the TWU and the Machinists is surely to heat up even more before it’s over.
“Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.”
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)