LaborTalk for July 29, 2011

4,000 FAA Employees Are Furloughed,
As Congress Fails to Pass Aviation Bill

By Harry Kelber

Because Congress failed to pass a Federal Aviation Administration bill, nearly 4,000 FAA employees have been furloughed and as many as 90,000 construction workers across America are out of work. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said: "Important airport modernization programs have been shut down in every state in the country."

Without authorization from Congress, the FAA cannot collect taxes on airline tickets that pay for much of its operations. The federal government is losing about $30 million a day from loss of the ticket tax.

Both the House and Senate have passed FAA funding bills, but have failed to resolve their differences in their joint conference, just the same as they are stalemated over the raising of the federal deficit ceiling.

The FAA said that air traffic controllers will stay on the job (to reassure worried air travelers), but that construction and other airport modernization work will halt indefinitely until the funding issue is resolved.

The FAA's furloughed employees are members of four unions: the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NAFCA), the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the American Federation o State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS).

Republicans Attack Fair NLRB Election Rules

The Republicans are insisting that the a final FAA funding bill must contain a provision similar to the original Railway Labor Act of 1926 that automatically gave employers a clear advantage over a union in a representation election.

Under the 1926 law governing voting in union elections on airlines and railroads, employees who failed to vote were counted as "No" votes. Employers were therefore given an incentive to discourage their workers from voting.

But in May 2011, the National Mediation Board (NMB) issued a new ruling that airline and rail workers will now be able to choose whether to join a union under rules that only require a majority of those present and voting. This is the same voting procedure used in nearly all industries.

* * * * *

AFL-CIO unions should expect right-wing attacks on the National Labor Relations Board that has been tilted toward fair treatment of labor unions in its recent decisions. The nation's major corporate organizations will focus increasingly on fighting the Board's decisions and hoping to change its composition by filling two vacant positions on the Board with members who are pro-business.

Thus, the NLRB has become a new battleground between unions and employers. We'll have to keep on fighting hard to maintain our rights.

LaborTalk will be posted here on August 2, 2011 and on our two web sites and on

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