When Republicans suggested that they would agree to a compromise
on Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, dropping their demand to count workers who did not vote in union representation elections as having voted against the union in exchange for raising the threshold of workers asking to get a union representation election from 35 percent to 50 percent, there were two possibilities: Either Republicans were dropping a huge demand in exchange for something relatively minor and it was a bit of a win, or there was something sneaky buried in what Republicans now wanted.
Today, Greg Sargent reports that more than a dozen unions have come out against the compromise—in essence, they concluded it was option B and the seemingly innocuous requirement of 50 percent interest in a union (seemingly innocuous because it would be malpractice to ask for an election that would require 50 percent support if you didn't already have 50 percent support) hides a fistful of poison pills.
The issues involved are somewhat technical, but the unions contend that the actual "compromise" being proposed would have a number of negative effects. Under current procedures, employers don't know which workers have signed cards saying they want a union. The "compromise" could enable airlines to find out exactly which workers had signed cards, allowing managers to precisely target union supporters for intimidation. Once upon a time (2006 to 2010, roughly), Republicans and corporations were deeply and sincerely worried about what would happen to workers if a law was passed saying that if more than 50 percent of workers signed cards asking for union representation got them a union; this meant the destruction of workers' right to a "secret ballot," Republicans argued. Now, they want to make the workers sign the cards and then show the cards to their bosses before the election, while giving the bosses ways to delay the election to buy time to intimidate as many workers as needed to prevent a union win.
But that's not all. In cases where a larger non-union and a smaller union airline merge, the "compromise" would make it easy to decertify the union at the smaller airline right off the bat, without allowing a vote. It would also diminish the independence of the National Mediation Board, the federal agency that oversees air and rail unions, making it easier for Congress to tie up the board's time and resources and, more, to intimidate it into making decisions tilted toward airlines.
The unions, which Sargent reports include the Communications Workers of America, the International Association of Machinists, and many more, are calling for the Senate to reject the so-called compromise and pass a clean FAA reauthorization.