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  • Veto Warning On Airline Unionization Rules
    Posted by Andrew Compart 3:55 PM on Mar 31, 2011

    In a blog post a couple of days ago, I noted that politically liberal blogs and commentators are highlighting a provision in the House version of the FAA Reauthorization bill as evidence of a continued Republican assault on unions. Late yesterday the Obama Administration more forefully joined the cause, without quite fully committing to it.

    In the Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 658 issued by the Office of Management and Budget, the OMB says the following in regard to the bill's provisions on union rules and on funding for FAA opertions and air traffic modernization:

    "If the President is presented with a bill that would not safeguard the ability of railroad and airline workers to decide whether or not they would be represented by a union based upon a majority of the ballots cast in an election or that would degrade safe and efficient air traffic, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill." The OMB underlined the passage to emphasize the point.

    Note, however, that the statement does not vow that Obama will veto any such bill, just that his "senior advisers would recommend" that he do so. That's an important distinction, in that the president is not quite drawing a line in the sand.

    Still, the president might get his way. As noted in today's Aviation Daily (subscriber-only access), Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, predicted yesterday that the labor provision will be stripped from the bill.
     That's not to say he wants it to be stripped--he favors the provision--but that's what he expects to happen. Reps. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) and Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) plan to offer an amendment to take out the language, with Costello declaring that there is no way the Senate would pass the bill with the labor provision in it.

    Just as a refresher, if you have not been following this issue:

    The National Mediation Board changed the rules for airline and railroad worker union representation elections last July, so that unions can win the elections if a majority of the workers casting ballots vote for unionization. Previously, any worker who did not vote got counted as a "no" vote; in fact, not voting was the only way to vote "no," because the actual ballots did not include a "no" option. Thos rules were different than under the vast majority of union elections, which operate under National Labor Relations Board rules, and made airline union-organizing efforts more difficult.

    Although the NMB began implementing the rule last July, the issue remains alive because most airlines hate it and some Republicans in the House have been leading an effort to void the change and return to the previous practice.

    Tags: tw99, unions, obama, FAA, Congress

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