House Republicans are holding a strategy session on Tuesday to chart out a way to pass language inside the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that would make it more difficult for rail or aviation workers to unionize.
A labor source passed along an alert sent out by Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) office, calling for a session in which aides could discuss how to best prep their bosses on the controversial provision. Sponsored by House Transportation Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.), the law would mandate that if an eligible voter fails to vote for union representation, he or she be tallied against representation.
In addition to relevant committee staff, Tuesday's meeting will feature Elizabeth Dougherty a Republican member of the National Mediation Board, as well as flight attendants from Delta Airlines -– the airline most affected by changes in union election laws.
“The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee will be holding a Republican LA staff briefing on the National Mediation Board / FAA Reauthorization bill tomorrow, March 29th at 11:00 AM in 2167 Rayburn,” wrote McCarthy’s aide, Kelly Dixon. “As you know, we are scheduled to begin debate on the FAA bill this Thursday. This is a great opportunity for you to learn more about the NMB process and ask any questions you may have as you prepare your boss for debate on FAA Reauthorization.”
The labor source who passed along the notice said it’s telling “for the whips office to put out an alert for a special briefing on just one issue in a big bill.” Though the FAA reauthorization is a major piece of legislation that touches on a host of industry-wide issues, a spotlight has begun to settle on the language involving union elections, a policy which had been the law prior to being changed last July. Union officials, wary of the extra burden of rounding up all voters rather than a simple majority, are working to remove the language from the bill before it reaches the president’s desk.
While the email from McCarthy’s office may hint House Republicans aren’t entirely sure they can pass the measure, the Democratic-controlled Senate remains labor’s best hope to remove it. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee, and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) have both expressed opposition to reverting back to the old law.
UPDATE, 1:38 p.m.: Statement from Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), chair of the Populist Caucus:
Once again, Congress will consider a vote this week that could weaken the middle class. Multi-national corporations already hold all of the cards in our economy; the government shouldn’t stack the deck against middle class families any further. As Chairman of the Populist Caucus, I’m strongly opposed to any efforts that will make union elections unfair.
All over the country, we’ve seen an attack on working families and the right of workers to make their voices heard. Hiding this union-busting provision in the FAA Reauthorization is unacceptable and hurts hardworking middle class Americans.
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