Not long ago, in A Win For Labor – FAA Bill Drops Anti-Union Language, I wrote that, “negotiators have dropped the anti-union language for votes to start a union. Republicans were insisting that no-shows be counted as “No” votes. Delta’s check must have been mailed late.”

Well, not so fast. While dropping a blatant anti-labor requirement that any non-voters be counted as ‘no’ voters, it turns out that the bill remains solidly and sneakily anti-labor. This is supposed to be a bill about airline safety and security, but the fight is over anti-labor provisions… what’s up with that? Laura Clawson at Daily Kos writes in, Unions call on Democrats to reject poison pills buried in Republican ‘compromise’ on FAA,

When Republicans suggested that they would agree to a compromise on Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, dropping their demand to count workers who did not vote in union representation elections as having voted against the union in exchange for raising the threshold of workers asking to get a union representation election from 35 percent to 50 percent, there were two possibilities: Either Republicans were dropping a huge demand in exchange for something relatively minor and it was a bit of a win, or there was something sneaky buried in what Republicans now wanted.

Why This Fight?

The reason there is a fight over labor rules in an FAA bill at all is that Delta Airlines is trying to keep unions out, so the 1% can keep from paying good wages and benefits to the 99%. And, as usually happens, they are offering the Republican Party a share of the take if they can just make it happen for them. Such is our present-day political system. It seems to come down to who is giving the most money to the Republican Party gets priority in legislation. (“Drill, baby, drill!”)


If you start with a bill that says, “kill all the unions, kill all the unions, kill all the unions, kill all the unions” and take out one “kill all the unions” is that a compromise? The unions are still killed three times over.

The FAA bill contains a number of provisions that make it nearly impossible to establish a union, including but not limited to:

  • the percentage of workers that say they wan a vote on unionization increases from 35 to 50 percent
  • tricky election run-off rules open up elections to even more company interference
  • a procedure allowing for the wholesale decertification of a whole host of unions through mergers

So Will Dems Cave?

So the question is, will Democrats cave on this? Some are saying that they have “made compromises” but what has happened is they took out one part that makes it almost impossible to form a union while leaving in other parts that make it nearly impossible to form a union. The only “compromise” appears to be from almost impossible to nearly impossible and labor is screwed either way. Or, from above, the unions are killed three times over instead of four times over.

As David Dayen reports at Firedoglake, a number of labor organizations have signed a letter rejecting this “compromise.” The unions signing the letter are the United Auto Workers union; Teamsters; Communications Workers of America; Association of Flight Attendants-CWA; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees-IBT; American Federation of Government Employees; International Association of Machinists; National Education Association; Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen-IBT; Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen; Service Employees Local 32BJ-National Conference of Fireman and Oilers; Sheet Metal Workers; United Steelworkers; American Train Dispatchers Association; Transportation Communications Union-IAM; Amalgamated Transit Union; United Transportation Union; and UniteHere.

Fight Back Against Attacks By The 1%

Stand with these unions to help protect the middle class from attacks by the 1%. CALL YOUR SENATORS TODAY and tell them you want the FAA bill to be about airline safety and security, not busting unions.

Then, click here to sign a letter, Stop This Radical Threat to Workers’ Rights:

Radical anti-union members of Congress are attempting to rewrite the Railway Labor Act and change the role of the National Mediation Board without debate or discussion. They have included drastic changes to the law in the FAA Reauthorization bill.

The changes these radicals are seeking would:

Make it much harder for airline and railroad workers to hold union representation elections.
Threaten airline and railroad workers’ right to a secret ballot during union representation campaigns, allowing for management intimidation and retaliation.
Allow airline and railroad management to decertify unions without an election in a merger.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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About the Author

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson (Redwood City, CA) is a Fellow at Campaign for America's Future, writing about American manufacturing, trade and economic/industrial policy. He is also a Senior Fellow with Renew California. Dave has more than 20 years of technology industry experience including positions as CEO and VP of marketing. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. And he was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers. More recently he helped co-found a company developing desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US.

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