Despite losing the most egregious anti-union measure in the Federal Aviation Administration re-authorization bill, the so-called 'compromise' that Congress has settled on remains staunchly anti-union and assaults the rights of workers in the airline and rail industries. Republicans had previously included a provision that would count all employees who don't vote in an election to create a union as "no" votes. That was removed from the current version of the proposal. However, a number of anti-union provisions still exist:
In a merger, unions and union contracts could simply be eliminated without cause.
The threshold for initiating a union election would rise from 35 percent to 50 percent, making it much more difficult for elections to even take place.
Current rules allow unions to be formed by a majority of those ballots cast. This compromise does NOT include that rule, meaning it could simply be overturned by the next Republican president and his or her appointees to the National Labor Relations Board, effectively meaning that this right only exists temporarily.
Several unions have come out in opposition to the deal, noting that it is still a clear attack on the rights of workers. They are specifically angry at Democratic leaders for agreeing to the deal.
“For the past year, we have worked to defend the rights of hard-working Americans across the country. Republican attacks on the middle class in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana have been met with national outrage. Sadly, Washington Republicans have failed to listen to the American people. Now they have created a situation where groups of employees are pitted against each other in the FAA reauthorization bill.”
“Members of the Progressive Caucus are committed to protecting the rights of all workers – from the collective bargaining rights of air traffic controllers and the critical runway safety provisions for pilots contained in the FAA bill, to the right to fair election procedures in union organizing drives for airline and rail employees attacked in this bill.”
“Members of the Progressive Caucus will protect all workers’ rights as Republicans continue their attacks on labor throughout this Congress.”
The Communications Workers of America launched new ads targeting vulnerable Republican incumbents Sean Duffy (WI) and Chip Cravaack (MN) in an attempt to get them to vote in favor of an extension of the Federal Aviation Administration. As previously reported, Republicans refuse to extend the authorization for the FAA on a long-term basis unless Democrats cave and allow a provision in the extension that would effectively prevent airline employees from forming unions. The FAA previously shut down because of Republican stalling tactics and another shutdown could be on the way if an extension isn't passed in the next few weeks.
This same conflict led to a partial FAA shutdown last summer, and it will again unless one of the parties blinks, or Congress once again passes a stopgap bill. To force the GOP’s hand, Communications Workers of America are targeting vulnerable Republicans Sean Duffy (R-WI) and Chip Cravaack (R-MN) with week-long, one-minute radio ads, hoping to build moderate GOP support for the Dem position.
“Both Rep. Cravaack’s and Rep. Duffy’s constituents deserve to learn of their role in voting against fair elections and remaining complicit in the continued obstruction of a sorely-needed job creation bill,” said CWA Communications Director Candice Johnson.
The House and Senate have been grappling for months over a provision in the House GOP’s FAA reauthorization bill that would count abstentions as “no” votes when airline and rail workers want to form a union. Democrats were once thought likely to cave on the issue, but have held their ground on the issue as the public has soured on GOP-driven shutdown threats.
The Senate will pass the House's bill to fund the Federal Aviation Administration through September to end the week-and-a-half long partial shutdown of the agency, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Thursday.
Ho, ho, ho. Santa Rushbo is here to spread the joy!
Rush Limbaugh is a deficit hawk as you know since he says it everyday, but when it comes down to real people, real jobs and real programs not being funded because of tea party hostage takers that will add to his great fear, the deficit---he only sees his hatred of liberals. He's ecstatic that thousands of Americans working for the FAA are getting screwed along with the country's bottom line by conservatives in Congress.
What's new there?
Sen. Tom Coburn is a busy man. Not only is he preparing to attack Social Security, but he's been pivotal in helping to destroy jobs, airline security and force Americans to foot the bill in the process with his blocking of the new FAA reauthorization. Now you know why I threw up when he stepped into the Gang of Six negotiations. C&L has been covering the tea party's crazed crazed attacks of the FAA because of their anti-union agenda and now the Senate has joined in their madness.
The House of Representatives adjourned for summer recess last night without resolving a dispute over Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding, meaning that almost 4,000 FAA employees will remain furloughed for another month and that dozens of construction projects will remain on hold. Furloughing thousands of employees and delaying construction projects can only hurt a sagging economy, and CNN reports that tens of thousands of workers could be affected:
The work stoppage will have a direct impact on about 24,000 construction workers engaged in those projects, indirectly impact 11,000 others and hurt 35,000 support workers, such as food service vendors, said Steve Sandherr of Associated General Contractors of America.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) blasted her party for causing the impasse by insisting on including "extraneous" provisions in the funding bill:
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, breaking with her party, called on Congress to pass a temporary extension that was devoid of any complicating policy issues.
"We're getting ready to leave for a month. We should not shut down the FAA because of a rider put on the extension of the FAA legislation that has not been negotiated," Hutchison said.
"It is not honorable for the House to send an extraneous amendment" on a funding extension, she said.
On Monday, Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the committee that oversees the FAA, and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, the senior Republican on the committee, floated a proposal to restore full operating authority to the FAA while cutting air service subsidies $71 million. The plan fell apart when Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said he would use parliamentary procedures to tie up the Senate in an effort to prevent a vote on the measure.
Coburn's refusal to allow a vote, thus costing the government $1.2 billion in revenue, is remarkable for a senator who has made a career of showboating about the budget deficit.
House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL), in a fit of spite, attached extra cuts to rural airports (in mostly Democratic states) to his version of the bill, which he admitted was merely meant to tweak Democratic senators for not going along with the GOP’s union busting. If the FAA shutdown continues for another month, it will cost the government about $1.2 billion. But for the GOP, that seems to be an acceptable price for advancing an anti-union agenda.
Last night, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) attempted to pass a clean FAA reauthorization through the Senate by unanimous consent. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) objected.
So much for worrying about the federal debt. What a sham. This Congress is what the administration thinks they can shame into raising revenues in any way possible? Or to even promote job growth in America?
As anticipated, the Federal Aviation Administration's operating authority expired at midnight Friday and the agency partially shut down. While air traffic controllers are still on the job and air travel continues more or less normally, nearly 4,000 other FAA employees are currently furloughed without pay. Additionally, nearly 87,000 construction jobs are affected as FAA-funded airport construction projects are forced to shut down. This includes projects from $10,000 to tens of millions of dollars, scattered across the country.
All of which is probably fine with House Republicans, since the whole purpose of this exercise was to make things more difficult for workers, anyway. By trying to make union representation elections operate by undemocratic rules, they put people out of work instead—maybe that's a job well done in their eyes.
The FAA is also unable to collect taxes on airline tickets bought, depriving the government of $200 million a week in revenue. But the great little coda to this story is that consumers aren't seeing savings:
[I]nstead of passing along the savings, the airlines are pocketing the money while customers pay the same amount as before.
American, United, Continental, Delta, US Airways, Southwest, AirTran and JetBlue all raised fares, although details sometimes differed. Most of the increases were around 7.5 percent.
It's like the Republican dream: Not only is the government not collecting revenue, that same revenue is going straight to corporations, for no reason. Why would they ever agree to end this shutdown?
The AFL-CIO sent out an email urging people to take action:
Last weekend, House Republican leaders proved just how far they are willing to go to achieve their ideological goals.
At 12:01 a.m. Saturday morning, they shut down the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). As if bringing America to the brink of default hasn’t done enough damage already. Are they out of their minds?
Because of the extreme ideological agenda of House Republicans and their political game-playing, 4,000 workers were furloughed over the weekend and more than 90,000 jobs across the country are on the line—including 1,026 in DC.(1)
Meanwhile, the government is out $200 million a week in airline ticket fees that normally fund our aviation infrastructure. That loss now will be added to the national debt.
And if you've been following the media, whenever a TV pundit asks a GOP politician about the FAA shutdown, they just lie in their responses. I really don't expect many hosts or anchors to have much of a grasp on the story, but some basic knowledge wouldn't be a bad idea to counter the spin.
The House wants to revert to an old rule in which all workers eligible to vote are counted as having done so. If they didn't actually cast a vote, they are recorded as a "no" vote. That means that joining a union does not just require getting a majority of the votes cast, but a majority of all workers. It's as if defeating George W. Bush would have required a majority of all voting-age Americans, regardless of voter turnout; as Joan McCarter has written, this provision codifies vote fraud.
That's what the House wants to shut down the FAA over. Since they're taking the position that air traffic controllers would be kept on as essential employees, they probably figure that public anger would be minimal even as they cause some pain, including furloughs for other workers and loss of revenue as airlines stop collecting ticket taxes. But House Republicans aren't just going out of their way to be dicks to workers: They've proposed a short-term extension that eliminates federal subsidies to 13 rural airports, including ones in the home states of the three Democratic senators with the most authority over the bill. And they're not pretending that's a coincidence; the chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee referred to it as "just a tool to try to motivate some action to get this resolved"—the "this" being passage of the anti-union provision.
According to a letter from Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) to John Boehner, the series of short-term extensions has already had costs such as slowing airport construction projects. But, you know, anything to make it harder for workers to join unions.
Here’s another way of phrasing the lede: “the anti-union, ideological fervor of House Republicans like John Mica (R-FL) is stronger than their desire to create new American jobs and deliver needed aviation industry upgrades. These ideologues would rather shut down the FAA than see union elections for air and rail workers adhere to the same basic election standards as every other form of American election, union or non-union.”
Here’s what passing a multi-year FAA Reauthorization bill would mean for the nation : hundreds of thousands of jobs, critical safety improvements, infrastructure and technology upgrades to air traffic control systems, and a shot in the arm for airlines' bottom lines. Yet an agreement in the conference committee process to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the legislation remains out of reach, predominantly due to an unrelated attack on union election rules and collective bargaining.
Here’s the sticking point : Mica and his cohorts, like Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI), are insisting that the FAA Reauthorization bill includes a union-busting measure that would stack the decks against workers' ability to collectively bargain. This provision would change the rules that govern union organizing elections for air and rail workers overseen by the National Mediation Board (NMB) and would subject these workers to a different election standard than every other form of American election. Instead of adhering to the principle that we only count ballots actually cast, the House version of the FAA legislation would count eligible voters who did not participate in an election the same as actually having voted "No." As a report from the Communications Workers of America (CWA) demonstrated, if congressional and Senate elections were conducted under the proposed standards for NMB elections, zero current Member of Congress or Senator would have won their last election.
Thankfully the White House came out immediately yesterday pushing back against the House Republicans (via email):
The Administration strongly supports passage of a clean extension of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs, as the Congress has done 20 times without controversy, in order to allow bipartisan, bicameral negotiations to continue on a full reauthorization.
H.R. 2553 includes controversial provisions that, because they have not been negotiated, needlessly threaten critical FAA programs and jeopardize thousands of public and private sector jobs. Without timely passage of a clean extension, all of FAA’s capital accounts (Grants-in-Aid for Airports, Facilities and Equipment, and Research, Engineering, and Development) would be shut down, and approximately 4,000 employees would be furloughed. FAA’s ability to award new grants, including for infrastructure upgrades at airports across the country, as well as to move forward with vital testing and implementation of the Next Generation air traffic control system, would come to a stop.
In the video above Rachel Maddow also explains the situation as well. Let’s hope the Senate Democrats do not cave to these extremists. As Greg Sargent pointed out few weeks ago while writing on this issue (emphasis added):
Whether or not you believe labor’s threat to soften support for national Dems in 2012, it would be folly to take full-blown union support for granted — in 2010, recall, turnout among union households dropped significantly. Standing firm in this FAA fight would be a good way for national Dems to restore organized labor’s confidence that the national party will fight for labor’s priorities — and hence is worth labor’s maximum time and money.
The House will vote on the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization and the provision in it which would essentially codify vote fraud in organizing elections.
A recap: last year the the National Mediation Board that oversees those elections ruled that the railroad and airline industries would have to end their practice of counting non-votes in these elections as no votes. Previously, any eligible worker who chose not to vote was automatically counted as a no. Which would be fraud in any other election in the United State. The industries, and most House Republicans, want the rule back.
I'm at the point that I will never fly Delta again. I think you should consider it too. Air travel is no day in the park and many people want to book a flight and be done with it, but there comes a time when even if it causes us more inconvenience, we have to do the right thing.
In the next several days, the state-level fight between Democrats and Republicans over unions will go federal. House Republicans want to re-establish old rules which say that when aviation or rail workers don't vote in unionization elections, they're treated as having voted against unionization. And now on of the nation's largest airlines is getting involved in the fight.
The push is reflected in language in the House's FAA re-authorization bill. In an earlier stage of the legislative fight, Democrats, joined by a few Republicans, nearly succeeded in getting the provision stripped. Now, sources say, a similar fight is likely to play out on the House floor, and anti-union employees at Delta Airlines are preparing to fly to Washington to join the fight.
In a message to its members obtained by TPM, the group "No Way AFA" -- a coalition of Delta employees who want to deliberalize union rights -- frames the fight this way. (AFA is the Association of Flight Attendants, the flight attendants union.)
"Title IX of the House FAA Reauthorization bill repeals the National Mediation Board's 2010 elections rule change, which permits a minority of employees at airlines and railroads to determine whether or not the majority will be represented by unions," the message reads. "[I]t is anticipated that an amendment will be offered on the House floor to strike these provisions from the bill and allow the NMB's modified rule to stay in place." According to the note, "Delta strongly supports the bill" as currently written.
Members are encouraged to participate in a fly-in to Washington, D.C., to lobby their congressmen, for which "positive space travel" -- free travel for airline employees -- is permitted. A Delta spokesperson said No Way AFA operates separately from the company itself, but that the company "allow[s] employees to travel positive space to D.C. when supporting legislative efforts that the company supports."
By contrast, Delta policy requires employees to fly standby for leisure and personal travel, suggesting that the "positive space" standard for the fly-in could squeeze out seating space for regular travelers.
How many times have you been booked on a flight only to hear these dreaded words while waiting to board the plane? "This flight is over-booked." In this case your seats are probably going to anti-union Delta workers. If we apply the standard that these union busters want to use, namely that if you, as a worker fail to vote, it now counts as a "no" then Rep's like Rep. Mica would not have been elected.
A friend who's an aviation buff sent me this. Now, just imagine the response if this was a Democrat instead of global warming denier James Inhofe. First, it would go up on Drudge. Then Limpy and the Beckster would each devote a half-hour to the "arrogance of Democrats who think the rules don't apply to them," every right-wing blogger in the country would run it with screaming headlines, teabaggers would send out furious emails, and then cable news would feature it, asking guests, "Do the Democrats have a problem with thinking they're above the law?"
How could I have forgotten the main lesson of the past decade? It's Okay If You're A Republican!
The FAA is reviewing an Oct. 21 incident in which U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) allegedly landed on a closed runway at Port Isabel-Cameron County Airport in Port Isabel, Texas, the Tulsa World reported late last week.
Inhofe, 75, of Tulsa, has served in the U.S. Senate since 1994. He holds a commercial pilot certificate and has been flying more than 50 years.
According to news reports, Inhofe had flown to Port Isabel in his twin-engine Cessna 340—he has a beach house on nearby South Padre Island—and landed on a runway that was marked as out of service.
Accounts did not say what runway was involved. Of the airport’s four runways, only 8,001-foot-long Runway 13/31 is listed as being in fair condition; Port Isabel’s three other runways are reported to be in poor condition.
Inhofe told the Tulsa World that he saw the X’s on the runway and took care to land on a part of the runway away from where the work was taking place. An FAA spokesman who told the newspaper that the agency was reviewing the incident said he could not comment further.
It was supposed to be a photo opportunity, a showcase of Air Force One alongside the sweep of New York City skyline.
But as the low-flying Boeing 747 speeded in the shadows of skyscrapers, trailed by two fighter jets, the sight instead awakened barely dormant fears of a terrorist attack, causing a momentary panic that sent workers pouring out of buildings on both sides of the Hudson River.
“I thought there was some kind of an attack,” said Paul Nadler, who sprinted down more than 20 flights of stairs after watching the plane from his office in Jersey City shortly after 10 a.m. “We ran like hell.”
In fact, the blue and white plane with “The United States of America” emblazoned on its side was one of two regularly used by the president. It was soaring above Lower Manhattan, Staten Island and Jersey City so government photographers could take pictures near the Statue of Liberty for publicity purposes.
Aides to President Obama, who was not on board, said he was incensed when he learned of the event Monday afternoon. The White House later issued a formal apology.
Witnesses described the engine roar as the planes swooped by office towers close enough to rattle the windows and prompt evacuations at scores of buildings. Some sobbed as they made their way to the street.
“As soon as someone saw how close it got to the buildings, people literally ran out,” said Carlina Rivera, 25, who works at an educational services company on the 22nd floor of 1 Liberty Plaza, adjacent to the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack. “Probably about 80 percent of my office left within two minutes of seeing how close it got to our building.”