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Changing Union Representation Election Voting Regimes: What Can We Learn?

Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations

ISBN: 978-1-78441-380-4, eISBN: 978-1-78441-379-8

Publication date: 2 February 2015


In 2010, the National Mediation Board (NMB) decided to base Railway Labor Act representation election outcomes on a simple majority of those voting, rather than on the majority of all eligible voters, as had been required earlier. This was widely expected to make it easier for unions to win rights to recognition in the railway and airline industries. We demonstrate that investors expected that this change would favor unions, just as they earlier had expected rule changes that made voting easier (in 2002 and 2007) to be favorable to unions, affecting stock prices of railway and airline corporations. After the 2010 change in election procedure, between 77% and 91% of all eligible employees returned ballots in NMB elections, demonstrating that a significant portion of nonvoters were not opposed to union representation, but simply were unwilling or were unable to vote. We conclude that the current voting process is fairer than the old one. However, it has not resulted in a tide of union success in these representation elections. Apparently scholars, the parties themselves, and investors all over-estimated the practical consequences of changing NMB representation election procedures.



Abraham, S.E., Schur, L.A. and Voos, P.B. (2015), "Changing Union Representation Election Voting Regimes: What Can We Learn?", Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations (Advances in Industrial & Labor Relations, Vol. 21), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 1-28.



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