Release #10.011
May 10, 2010

ALPA Hails NMB Union Election Rule Change

WASHINGTON –The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), welcomes the National Mediation Board’s rule change that ends the policy of counting workers who do not cast ballots in an election as having cast a “no” vote against union representation.

“This long-overdue policy change brings fairness back into the union election system,” said Capt. John Prater, ALPA’s president. “This action modernizes balloting policy by determining the outcome based on the majority of votes actually cast, rather than presuming that those who do not cast ballots are voting against union representation.”

ALPA has long favored removing this fundamental bias, which is unique to railroad and airline employees. No other group of private sector employees in the United States selects union representation under such anti-representational presumptions, which date from the 1930s. In December 2009, ALPA testified at a public hearing in support of the rule change.

“Democratic principles must form the foundation of the union representation election system,” said Prater. “Thanks to this important policy action, the NMB balloting process no longer countermands the values of our democracy.”

The proposed rule change garnered widespread and bipartisan support in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House. “ALPA stands with the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO and our rail and airline union brethren who support and applaud this rule change,” concluded Prater.

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing nearly 53,000 pilots at 38 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at


CONTACT: Linda Shotwell, 703/481-4440 or