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Final Rule to Simplify Decertification


 Press Release

Washington, DC 20572

(202) 692-5000

July 26, 2019



Contact: NMB Public Information Line — (202) 692-5050

Re: NMB Publishes Final Rule to Simplify Decertification; Eliminate Need for Straw Man

Washington, DCOn, July 26, 2019, the National Mediation Board (NMB) published a Final Rule to allow a straightforward process to decertify representation.  With this rule, employees seeking to decertify a current union will be able to go through the same process that employees seeking to gain representation go through.  NMB Chairman Linda Puchala dissented.  

This rule will eliminate the need for employees to go through a complicated and confusing “straw man” election process in order to exercise their right to freely choose representation under the Railway Labor Act.  The “straw man” process was devised by employees who were no longer satisfied with their union representation because the NMB did not provide a path for a direct decertification. Under the “straw man” process, employees would submit authorization cards seeking representation by an individual employee who was listed by name.  If “straw man” cards were submitted representing at least 50% of the employee group, an election was directed allowing employees to vote for their current representative, the “straw man,” no union, or a write-in option. In order to decertify, a majority of those voting must vote for either “no union” or for the “straw man” who, once certified, could subsequently disclaim interest.

Under the final rule, employees may now submit authorization cards stating the intention to no longer be represented by their union.  If cards are submitted representing the intent of at least 50% of the employee group to decertify, the Board will authorize an election with the current representative and “no union,” along with a write-in option.  

Additionally, the two year election bar currently applied following a successful representation election will similarly be applied to a successful decertification election.  

The final rule is available here: Federal Register link

Additional Background:

  • NMB published the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on January 31, 2019.  It may be viewed here: Federal Register link
  • Public comments were invited on all aspects of the proposed rule and are viewable on the NMB website here: NMB NPRM Comments
  • A hearing on the proposed rule was held on March 28, 2019.  The transcript of that hearing is viewable on the NMB website here: NMB Hearing Transcript


The National Mediation Board (NMB) is an independent agency created by the Railway Labor Act, which governs labor management relations in the railroad and airline industries. To avoid serious disruptions to the Nation’s economy and protect the public interest, the Act imposes on carriers and their employees the duty of settling disputes through negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. The NMB, headed by three Presidential appointees, has as its chief statutory responsibilities: (1) mediation of collective bargaining disputes; (2) determination of employee representation for collective bargaining processes; and (3) administration of a grievance arbitration system.

Contact: NMB Public Information Line: 202-692-5050

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