Some 4,000 employees of the Federal Aviation Administration will remain furloughed through Labor Day, and Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines is catching some of the blame.
Rules governing the unionization of the transportation industry is at the bottom of the congressional stalemate. The background from the Washington Post:
The arrival of an Obama appointee shifted the balance of power on the three-member National Mediation Board, and shortly thereafter the NMB issued a rule change. It said that union efforts to organize airlines should be decided by a simple majority of ballots cast.
Before that ruling, airline unionization had been governed by a rule that said eligible voters in a unionization effort who did not cast a ballot would be recorded as voting against the union.
The new rule would apply to all airlines, but it’s most immediate potential impact would be to Delta Airlines, where unionization efforts have been defeated.
The House this year passed an FAA reauthorization bill that would reverse the NMB ruling. But the Senate refused.
These paragraphs were posted this evening by NPR:
[Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid says the problem actually lies with one airline: Delta.
“The House has tried to make this a battle over essential air service,” he says. “It’s not a battle over essential air service. It’s a battle over Delta Airlines, who refuses to allow votes under the new rules that have been passed by the NLRB [National Labor Relations Board].”
The issue, Reid says, is Delta’s “non-union” stance.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, has been actively involved in an effort to overturn the NMB ruling, but a spokeswoman said the senator had not been involved in direct negotiations over FAA reauthorization legislation since mid-July.
From a July 21 floor statement by Isakson:
From my standpoint, I want everybody to understand clearly, I agree with the chairman that we need a reauthorization. But I also think we need a balanced playing field with NMB, and I continue to work to try and find some common ground to see to it that the aviation industry can have judicial review, just as the unions already have, with regard to NMB regulations and NMB rulings.
House Republicans say the dispute is less about unions and more about a Democratic attempt to eliminate airline ticket subsidies of more than $1,000 per passenger at three small airports.
[I]f you look at the short-term extension legislation approved by the House two weeks ago, there is no language dealing with the labor issue – just the airline ticket subsidy issue…
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider