Unions balk at attempt to rewrite labor law in FAA funding bill

In a joint statement to Congress, 19 unions representing transportation workers urged Democrats to stand up to Republican efforts to use a bill authorizing long-term funding for the Federal Aviation Administration as a vehicle for rewriting transportation labor law.

The unions said that a recent compromise between Senate and House leaders on the FAA’s funding bill will make it harder for airline and railroad workers to organize unions and that it could cause union workers to lose their collective bargaining rights when bankruptcies and/or mergers in the transportation industry take place.

The union statement said that long-term funding for FAA is vital and they support a clean funding bill that does not attempt to change 75 years of labor law.

“Rewarding the House Republicans Leadership’s desire to rewrite decades of long-standing labor law in a flash by inserting an unrelated and controversial provision in a much needed aviation safety and security bill without notice, hearing, or debate sets an extremely dangerous precedent,” the statement said.

The proposed FAA funding bill is the result of a compromise agreed to on January 20 by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner. The compromise includes changes to National Mediation Board guidelines for holding union representation elections in the airline and railroad industries. The NMB oversees union elections in these two industries.

The compromise would raise the percentage of signed union authorization cards needed for the NMB to hold a union representation election from 35 percent to 50 percent of the proposed bargaining unit. It would also change rules regarding runoff union elections and require audits of the NMB.

The compromise would  not change an NMB ruling in 2010 that unions need a majority of voters to vote “yes” in order to win a union representation election, not as had previously been the case, a majority of eligible voters.

“We see (the proposed NMB guidelines) changes as an attack on labor law,” said Ron Kloos of the Transportation Communications Union/IAM to Bloomberg.com.

Unions are urging members to contact their Senators and urge them to vote NO on S. 223/H.R. 658 and insist on a “clean” FAA funding bill instead.

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