ABM Onsite Services - West, Inc. v. NLRB, No. 15-1299 (D.C. Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
ABM petitioned for review of the Board's determination that the Union's effort to represent the workers who handle airline baggage was governed by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C. 151 et seq., and not the Railway Labor Act (RLA), 45 U.S.C. 151 et seq. The court concluded that the Board violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 706(2)(a), by applying a new test to determine whether the RLA applies, without explaining its reasons for doing so. Because an agency's unexplained departure from precedent was arbitrary and capricious, the court vacated the Board's order. In this case, the court held that the Board was not free to simply adopt the NMB's new approach without offering a reasoned explanation for that shift. The court explained that an agency cannot avoid its duty to explain a departure from its own precedent simply by pointing to another agency's unexplained departure from precedent. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review, denied the Board's cross-application for enforcement, and vacated the order, remanding for further proceedings.