The House just defeated, 206-220, an amendment by Reps. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) and Jerry Costello (D-IL) to strip the union-busting provision from the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill. Sixteen Republicans voted with all Dems to strip this provision.
Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) had some choice words about this provision of the bill in his statement yesterday.
From Wisconsin to Ohio to Maine, we have seen how Republican politicians are attempting to destroy a century of hard-fought labor protections. This bill represents more of the same.
The bill would reverse a National Mediation Board rule that allows a majority of those voting in aviation and rail union elections to decide the outcome. Instead, Tea Party extremists want to count workers who chose not to vote as automatic “no’s” against the union.
I wonder if my friends on the other side of the aisle would be willing to use that same standard in congressional elections? I wonder if they’d agree that every registered voter who didn’t vote—for whatever reason—last November would automatically be counted as a “no” vote against them. I doubt it.
Because in the 2010 midterm elections, 40.9 percent of eligible voters cast ballots nationwide.
Under the standard in this bill, not a single current Member of Congress would have won election last year. Not one.
That argument was picked up LaTourette, who blasted his party.
[T]he president has said the won't sign this bill unless this amendment's adopted, the Senate has declared this a non-starter. And so if we want to give fancy speeches — and for just tuning in around the country, you know, welcome to whack-a-union night, because this will be our fourth, fifth anti-union vote that has nothing to do with the aviation system.
That unfortunately wasn't a compelling enough argument for enough Republicans, nor was the veto threat from the White House, should this provision stay in the bill. It's not in the Senate bill, so this fight is going on to conference, where the Senate should have the upper hand with that veto threat backing them up, and the 16 House Republicans who bucked leadership.
Update: The full bill passed 223-196. As for the union-busting provisions, the CWA, the union that had been fighting the bill, sends a statement that reads, in part:
Already, the Obama Administration has threatened to veto the overall FAA bill if the unfair elections provision remains in the legislation after conference negotiations. As the official Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) noted, “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 Senate version of the FAA legislation, which already passed that chamber, does not contain this anti-worker provision. CWA looks forward to working with Senators of both parties to strip this violation of fair election standards from the larger bill during the conference committee process....
Beyond ideological opposition to unions, it’s hard to find a reason or rationale for wanting to return to such an egregiously unfair election model. In fact, since last year, when airline and rail workers’ election rules were brought in line with every other election we hold in our democracy, successful and unsuccessful unionization votes have been split roughly 50-50. The rule change is about fair elections for everyone, not an inherent boon to unions.