Legal Alert: FAA Reauthorization Act Amends RLA Election Procedures


Executive Summary: On February 14, 2012, President Obama signed the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act (the "Act") into law. The last long-term FAA funding act expired in September 2007. In addition to the typical funding provisions, the FAA Reauthorization Act contains several amendments to the Railway Labor Act ("RLA"). These amendments pertain to the election and voting procedures under the RLA as well as to oversight of the National Mediation Board ("NMB").

The Act changes the showing of interest requirement for RLA representation elections. Prior to the amendment, the NMB required organizations to present a showing of interest from 35% of employees in an unrepresented craft or class (if a craft or class was represented by an incumbent organization, the showing of interest requirement was 50% of employees). Accordingly, if the craft or class had 1,000 employees, the NMB would authorize an election if a union presented valid authorization cards from at least 350 employees. The Act changes the showing of interest requirement to 50% of the employees in a craft or class in all cases. Under the example used above, a union would now be required to present authorization cards from 500 employees before the NMB would authorize an election.

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