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Under the Railway Labor Act, there is no procedure through which employees can simply get rid of a forced unionism clause in the contract between their employer and a union. However, airline and railway employees may “decertify” a union and rid their work place of both monopoly union representation and the forced unionism clause. The decertification process was streamlined in new rules issued on July 26, 2019, by the National Mediation Board (NMB), the federal agency that oversees elections under the RLA. See Decertification of Representatives here; see also here.

The NMB’s rules now state in § 1206.5: “Decertification of representatives. Employees who no longer wish to be represented may seek to decertify the current representative of a craft or class in a direct election. The employees must follow the procedure outline[d] in § 1203.2.”

Thus, railway and airline employees in a “craft or class” have the right to oust a union as their exclusive bargaining agent if: (1) a majority of the employees in a “craft or class” sign authorization cards clearly stating that they are opposed to the union’s representation; (2) an employee-petitioner files an application for “Investigation of Representational Dispute” with the NMB; and (3) a majority of voters votes against the union when the NMB holds the secret-ballot election.

Authorization cards: An authorization card is a card or document signed by an employee stating that the employee desires to be represented by an organization or individual for collective bargaining purposes, or opposes an organization or individual’s representation.

According to the NMB website authorization cards must have the name of the organization representing (or seeking to represent) the craft or class, and must be signed and dated by the employee. Typically, authorization cards also include the following information: employee address, telephone number, job title, and employee number. The NMB compares the signed authorization cards to a List of Potential Eligible Voters supplied by the carrier to determine the percentage of employees signing authorization cards (generally referred to as the “showing of interest”).

The language on authorization cards must be unambiguous and the NMB must be able to determine the employee’s intent of either desiring or opposing union representation in the workplace.

After the cards are signed, this form, along with original signed authorization cards, must be submitted by the employee- petitioner to the NMB at the following address (certified or otherwise traceable mail is advised and copies should be made of the authorization cards for safe keeping):

National Mediation Board
1301 K Street NW, Suite 250 East
Washington, DC 20005-7011

Furthermore, the employee-petitioner should also send the NMB a one page “notice of appearance” with his or her information and the role that he or she is playing in the process.

Finally, if you want legal advice in pursuing “decertification,” please contact the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and your request for assistance will be referred to a Staff Attorney.

This is a sample of an authorization card used to decertify a union under the RLA:

Authorization Card for Decertification under the Railway Labor Act
The undersigned employee of _________________________________ (fill in employer name) no longer wishes to be represented by _________________________________ (fill in union name). The undersigned employee hereby petitions the National Mediation Board to hold a decertification election to determine whether the majority of employees in the craft or class also no longer wish to be represented by this union.

_____________________________________ (Name of Employee — print)
_____________________________________ (Original signature of employee)
_____________________________________ (Name of craft or class)
_____________________________________ (Employee’s job title)
_____________________________________ (Employee’s work ID No.)
_____________________________________ (Employee’s street/mailing address)
_____________________________________ (City, State, Zip code)
_____________________________________ (Employees’ phone number)
_____________________________________ (Date of employee signing this authorization card)

NOTE: You are not casting a vote either way by filling out an Authorization Card. You are simply calling for the National Mediation Board to hold a secret-ballot election to vote out the union. The signed card is valid for one year. Signatures of fifty percent plus one of all employees in the craft or class are needed to petition the NMB for an election.