The National Mediation Board recently completed an election among baggage handlers and cargo agents at Continental Airlines. The Teamsters union was attempting to organize 7,603 workers. What happened? The Teamsters won. The final vote counted 4,102 workers in favor of Teamster representation. Click here for the ABC News story.

The election was conducted under a federal labor law applicable to airline and railroad employees. The rules under that statute are different for union elections than under the NLRA, which applies to most private sector employees. But, they are different in a way that, in one respect, favors employers. Specifically, the Teamsters had to get a majority of votes from those they want to organize, not just a majority of votes of those voting, as is the rule under the NLRA. Thus, those who don’t vote are essentially votes against union representation.

So, in a secret ballot election process that favors employers, the Teamsters were nonetheless able to convince over 4,100 employees of Continental that union representation was appropriate for them. The outcome at Continental Airlines runs counter to many of the arguments unions advance in support of EFCA’s attack on the secret ballot election process.