It’s a Small World for Baggage Handlers at the Orlando International Airport, NLRB Finds


 

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Denying review of a regional director’s decision that directed a representation election among baggage handlers at the Orlando International Airport, the NLRB recently found that employer Aircraft Service International, Inc., is subject to the National Labor Relations Act, unlike some other employers that provide services related to air travel. Finding there wasn’t enough “carrier control” over the employer for coverage by the Railway Labor Act, the decision departs from a number of National Mediation Board decisions that find the company’s employees may only be organized under the RLA as part of a nationwide bargaining unit. Aircraft Service International, Inc., 2017 BL 197669 (N.L.R.B. 2017).

Looking to six factors the NMB uses to decide whether an employer is controlled by a common carrier, including the extent of a carrier’s control over the way the employer conducts its business, the NLRB emphasized that Aircraft Service International, Inc., doesn’t even have a service contract with any of the airlines operating at Orlando. Instead, its service contract is solely with the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, a local government body.

Chairman Miscimarra, who dissented in part from the board’s decision, noted that numerous NMB decisions have found that the RLA applies to the company’s employees, and that they may only be organized as part of a nationwide unit. Accordingly, Miscimarra would either grant review of the regional director's decision or refer the matter to the NMB regarding inconsistencies in its treatment of the company.

Limiting the scope of the unit dramatically, the case incrementally extends the NLRB’s jurisdictional reach in a zone where the National Labor Relations Act and Railway Labor Act arguably converge. It also illustrates how fact-specific the NLRB’s unit determinations tend to be, even in the face of countervailing administrative headwinds.

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