Obama issues veto threat over union measure in FAA bill

President Obama has threatened to veto the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill unless a provision on union organizing is removed.

In a statement of administration policy Wednesday, the White House said the president's "senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill" if the legislation "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." 

The White House said the veto threat also applies to the funding levels in the FAA bill. The statement said the president's advisors would also recommend a veto if the legislation "would degrade safe and efficient air traffic."

The FAA reauthorization bill has a provision that repeals a rule finalized by the National Mediation Board (NMB) in May of last year. 

The revised rule allows workers at companies covered by the Railway Labor Act to form unions if a majority of them vote to unionize. The old rule would count workers who did not cast ballots in union elections as "no" votes while the revised version does not count them at all.

The legislation is expected to be voted on as early as Thursday this week. Unions have begun to mobilize behind an amendment to the bill offered by Reps. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) and Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) that would protect the new NMB rule from repeal.

Nevertheless, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has predicted that the NMB rule repeal will stay in the legislation despite labor's lobbying against it.