FAA bill still on the agenda

The union issue with FedEx and UPS will be handled on the floor, possibly separately from the main bill. Final details on the process haven’t been worked out. 

The House’s FAA bill shifts FedEx ground operations jurisdiction for labor relations from the Railway Labor Act to the National Labor Relations Act. The change would put FedEx and UPS under the labor union same rules, allowing FedEx ground employees to organize locally. Under current law, FedEx organizes nationally. FedEx has called it a “bailout” for UPS. 

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) has pushed for the language, but it’s not likely to pass muster in the Senate. 

The Senate passed a two-year, $34.5 billion measure in March, while the House last year passed a $70 billion bill that covers 2009-2012. 

Overall, the FAA bill calls for the air traffic control system to switch from World War II-era radar technology to a satellite-based system by 2014 at the busiest airports, and nationwide by 2020. 

The new system, known as NextGen, would cost the FAA about $22 billion through 2025, while airlines would spend about $20 billion to upgrade their airplanes’ computer systems. With the numbers of airline passengers growing, the new air traffic system is expected in the long term to increase safety, save airlines money, reduce delays and cut down on pollution because pilots will be able to fly more direct routes.