Organizing Process

Organizing Process

The Union Organizing Process

What does it take to organize an OPEIU aviation union at my place of employment?

There are many components involved to organize a union among pilots. The foundation of any organizing campaign is the willingness of several employees to become part of an active in-house organizing committee.

What is an organizing committee?

An in-house organizing committee is a group of pilots who will work closely with the OPEIU Organizers during all phases of the organizing campaign. They will help gather pilot’s home addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, base locations, shifts and so forth. The committee also follows through on assignments such as distributing union information, providing feedback, helping with strategy planning, preparing leaflets, making phone calls and getting their fellow pilots to sign authorization cards. The committee should consist of pilots from as many bases as possible. The committee is the heart of the organizing campaign.

Does the organizing committee and other pilots have the legal right to unionize?

Yes, the law protects the pilots right to participate in union activity and they cannot be fired for participating in union activity. The Railway Labor Act Section 152. (Fourth) General Duties states: ”No carrier, its officers, or agents shall deny or in any way question the right of its’ employees to join, organize, or assist in organizing the labor organization of their choice, and it shall be unlawful for any carrier to interfere in any way with the organization of its’ employees”. Pilots must conduct organizing during their free time and in non-work areas.             

Once the committee is formed and the necessary information gathered, what is the next step?

The next step is to get pilots to show their interest to unionize by signing authorization cards. The signed cards are used to achieve majority support for union representation and to get a secret ballot election conducted by the National Mediation Board (NMB). Pilots should only sign cards if they are serious about union representation and not just to have an election.

When would we have an election?

After a majority of the eligible pilots have signed union authorization cards the OPEIU would file an application for a secret ballot election at the NMB. After the NMB receives the application it conducts an investigation. Once the NMB determines that all procedures have been met a secret ballot election is arranged.

What is the process for the secret ballot election?

The secret ballot election is conducted by the NMB. All NMB elections are now conducted by telephone electronic voting. The complete election timeframe takes place within 90 days. Four to five weeks is allowed for the voting process. The ballot tally takes place at the NMB headquarters in Washington, DC. It takes 50% plus one of all eligible voters to vote yes to win an election. All pilots who do not call in a yes vote are considered automatic no votes.

When does the collective bargaining process begin?

If the majority of the eligible pilots vote for union representation the carrier must by law begin negotiations with the pilots. Before negotiations commence all pilots are surveyed. Contract proposals are then prepared from the survey results. The pilots also elect a pilot negotiation team. The negotiation team works closely with the OPEIU skilled negotiators throughout all phases of negotiations.