The Stand

Urge Cantwell, Murray to nix labor-opposed FAA ‘compromise’

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UPDATE (Feb. 7) — The Senate passed the Federal Aviation Administration bill on Monday that includes an anti-union measure bitterly opposed by many labor groups. Both Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell voted “yes” on the bill. As we reported earlier (below), 19 labor unions signed onto a letter of opposition to the measure, but a handful of other unions endorsed the compromise, which codified collective bargaining rights for FAA employees. The AFL-CIO ultimately took no position on the final FAA bill. The split within labor may explain why today’s coverage of the FAA bill’s passage in The Hill and the NY Times downplayed the anti-union language.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Congress passes bill reauthorizing FAA spending — The bill’s approval is expected to bring more than $40 million in investment for Spokane International Airport and Felts Field over four years.


UPDATE (Feb. 6): On Friday, the House voted 248-169 to pass the FAA “compromise” that includes language making it harder for railway and airline workers to form unions. Washington’s delegation voted on party lines, with Democratic Reps. Inslee, Larsen, Dicks, McDermott and Smith voting “no” and Republican Reps. Herrera Beutler, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers and Reichert voting “yes.”

A Senate vote could happen as soon as Monday afternoon or Tuesday. So please call Sens. Cantwell and Murray at the numbers below and/or send them an email by using this IAM Legislative Action Center. Also, sign a petition to President Obama urging him to veto the bill should it get to his desk.

► At TPM — Are Senate Dems about to cave on GOP union-busting?


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 2) — Senate Democratic leaders just announced a “compromise” negotiated behind closed doors that rewards the hardball anti-union tactics of Congressional Republicans. This deal tosses out 75 years of legal precedent and rewrites labor law in a way that makes it significantly harder for railway and airline workers to form unions.

TAKE A STAND! We need to contact Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell RIGHT AWAY and urge that they oppose this provision!  Tell them to pass a “clean” FAA reauthorization bill that does NOT include language taking away railway and airline workers’ rights, and ask that they urge their Senate colleagues to do the same.

Call Sen. Cantwell’s D.C. office at 1-202-224-3441, and/or 1-888-648-7328.
Call Sen. Murray’s D.C. office at 1-202-224-2621, and/or 1-866-481-9186.

BACKGROUND — In May 2010, the National Mediation Board issued a rule overturning decades of injustice whereby railway and airline workers who did not vote in union elections were counted as “no” votes. This uniquely undemocratic practice was ended and replaced with normal majority-rules elections, the same ones that exist for all other American workers, and in fact, are the standard for all elections from local school boards to the presidency.

Naturally, the airlines and transportation corporations were livid about the change, as were Republicans in Congress. The corporations promptly sued the federal government– and lost. Meanwhile, the Republicans did what they do these days: they took hostages.

Republicans inserted a provision into legislation reauthorizing funding for the Federal Aviation Administration that, once again, would take away railway or airline workers’ right to majority-rule union elections. But Democrats strongly opposed it, insisted on a “clean” FAA bill. Republicans refused and let the FAA run out of money and shut down last summer. Eventually, Republicans backed down and authorized temporary FAA funding, but not before furloughing 4,000 FAA employees, idling some 90,000 construction workers on airport projects, and costing the government some $400 million in uncollected airline ticket taxes.

Well, they’re ba-ack.

Only this time, Senate Democratic leaders decided to negotiate with the FAA hostage-takers — without consulting the affected unions. On Tuesday, they formally announced a “compromise” negotiated behind closed doors between House Republican and Senate Democratic leaders. FAA would be funded for four years in exchange for changing the threshold necessary for triggering a union election, from 35% of the workers signing cards to 50%.

But as the leaders of dozens of unions point out, this “compromise” is even worse than what was in place before. It actually increases the weight of those with no opinion on unionization to the extent that they can prevent a vote from happening at all.

“That’s a step back, not a compromise,” writes Tom Buffenbarger, President of the International Association of Machinists, in a letter to members of Congress.

The leaders of 19 affected unions sent a letter to Congressional leaders angrily denouncing the backroom deal as a harmful affront to the democratic process and the labor movement:

“We remain strongly committed to passage of a clean FAA reauthorization bill. An aviation safety and security bill is no place to impose unrelated and controversial labor provisions that will ultimately serve to harm both airline and railroad workers. The proposed Railway Labor Act changes would drastically rewrite a statute that was crafted by labor-management cooperation and has not been changed for over 75 years without the agreement of both employer and employee representatives. Airline and rail workers would suffer significant losses as contracts are jettisoned, collective bargaining rights are cut and legal hurdles will be placed in the way of gaining a voice at work…

“Rewarding the House Republican Leadership’s desire to rewrite decades of long standing labor law in a flash by inserting an unrelated and controversial labor provision in a much needed aviation safety and security bill, without notice, hearing, or debate, sets an extremely dangerous precedent. We urge the Senate to delete the provisions of the bill that would amend the RLA and pass the clean FAA reauthorization that all concerned recognize this country sorely needs and supports.”

The letter was signed by the UAW, CWA, AFA-CWA, IBEW, AFGE, IAM, NEA, IBT, USW, ATU, UTU, SMWIA, UNITE HERE, SEIU, and others.


TAKE A STAND! We need to contact Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell RIGHT AWAY and urge that they oppose this provision!  Tell them to pass a “clean” FAA reauthorization bill that does NOT include language taking away railway and airline workers’ rights, and ask that they urge their Senate colleagues to do the same.

Call Sen. Cantwell’s D.C. office at 1-202-224-3441 and/or 1-888-648-7328.
Call Sen. Murray’s D.C. office at 1-202-224-2621 and/or 1-866-481-9186.

(If you live outside Washington state, please contact YOUR U.S. Senators on this important issue.)

Short URL: https://www.thestand.org/?p=9839

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