Republicans plan FAA shutdown to bust unions

Republican union busters are planning, just in time for the holidays, a shut down of the Federal Aviation Administration .

They have added a stipulation to the FAA funding bill that changes the rules for union elections, mandating that anyone who doesn’t vote be counted as a ‘no’ vote. Under the measure unions would lose even if 100 percent of the workers who show up to vote say they want a union. All the company would have to do to win an election is keep enough employees from voting.

The GOP is trying to undo a ruling that would make it easier for employees of Delta Air Lines to unionize. The ruling they are trying to kill is the recent one by the National Mediation Board, which said that airline unionization efforts should be decided by a majority of those who vote. That ruling shelved the long time policy that said eligible voters who failed to vote would be counted as voting against unionization.

The recent NMB ruling has its most immediate impact on Delta, which has so far held off union organizers.

The Communications Workers of America has launched a nationwide campaign urging voters to contact specific members of Congress, demanding they stop the union-busting plan and pass FAA funding. The lawmakers targeted by the union are the Republican House members considered most vulnerable in 2012. The union plans for those lawmakers to receive 1,300,000 phone calls. In addition, the CWA is mounting an online campaign to pressure the legislators.

A recent video released by the CWA highlights Delta Airlines’ role in driving the GOP maneuvering over the FAA bill and delaying the bill’s numerous benefits in the process.

Story continues after the video.

“It is past the time to finalize a long-term FAA reauthorization bill that improves our aviation infrastructure, grows our economy, creates hundreds of thousands of new jobs and keeps elections fair for air and rail employees,” says the union in a statement.

In addition to union organizing rights, at risk are tens of thousands of good-paying jobs that would be created via the FAA reauthorization bill, along with infrastructure upgrades that will modernize airports across the country as well as national and air traffic control systems.

“We cannot continue on this disastrous path,” declared Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., about the Republican scheme when he spoke recently to the Aero Club in Washington, D.C. “I do not understand how this fixation with one airline can be seen as so paramount that the House would shut down the FAA to get its way.”

“Delta Airlines should rebrand itself as the official airline of the one percent,” said Candice Johnson, communications director of the CWA in a phone interview. “At fault for the continued failure to forge a funding agreement are ideologically-driven Republicans who have been lobbied hard by Delta Airlines. Their unwillingness to maintain the democratic standard for union elections, and instead count a non-vote in a union election as a NO vote is an unfair standard no member of Congress could get elected to office with. And it threatens to derail job-creating legislation for the foreseeable future.

“For millions of people, air travelers and job seekers alike, Republicans are more intent on silencing workers’ rights than they are on forging a long-overdue agreement,” said Johnson.

The CWA notes that the union-busting move by the GOP comes just as Congress has gotten close to passing the overdue funding bill, and after 22 extensions of FAA authority to operate.

A union statement urges everyone to “call your member of Congress and House leader Eric Cantor today and tell them to stop playing political games and pass a clean, long-term FAA funding bill with no special interest provisions.”

The targeted lawmakers are:

Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., Rep. John Mica, R-Fl., Rep. Mary Bono Mac, R-Calif., Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., Rep. Robert Dold, R-Il., Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., Rep. Blake Farenhold, R-Tex., Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa., Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., Rep. Nan Hayworth, R-N.Y., Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., Rep. Reed Ribble, R-Wis., Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., Rep. Charlie Bass, R-N.H., Rep. Chip Cravaack, R-Minn.

Photo: A passenger jet flies past the FAA control tower at Washington’s National Airport. (Cliff Owen/AP)



John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is editor in chief at He started as labor editor of the People's World in May, 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.