Union: GOP should drop labor provisions in long-term FAA bill

Noting that Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) dropped his opposition to parts of a bill to extend the funding of the Federal Aviation Administration last week, the parent group of the union for flight attendants called on House Republicans to drop controversial labor provisions that have held up agreement on a long-term measure for the agency.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA), which oversees the Association of Flight Attendants, said Monday that Republicans should push House Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) to remove provisions in the chamber's four-year funding bill for the FAA that undo rules that make it easier for transportation workers to unionize just as the GOP reportedly pushed Coburn to not force a shutdown of the FAA last week.

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"If Republican colleagues successfully pressured Tom Coburn over his extreme views that could have led to another FAA shutdown, why won't they do the same to Rep. John Mica and his extreme, union-busting views that led to the last FAA shutdown?" CWA Communications Director Candice Johnson said in a statement Monday.

The House's version of the long-term authorization bill, which would be the first for the FAA since 2004, would provide the agency with $59 billion over the next four years. The agency has been operating on a series of 22 short-term extensions of that last authorization since it expired in 2007. 

The bill has been held up, however, because it starkly differs from the version of the bill that has been approved by the Democratically-controlled Senate. Calling it at the time the "first jobs act of 2011," the upper chamber passed a two-year, $109 billion for the FAA in February.

The Senate's measure did not include the labor provisions, which have drawn a veto threat from President Obama.

The CWA alleges Mica is pushing for the labor language on behalf of Delta Airlines, which has had a series of union elections end up under federal review.

Mica has insisted he is only interested in passing a long-term bill and that he has offered to negotiate with Democrats on all provisions in the measure, including the controversial labor language.

The FAA was partially shutdown for nearly two weeks last month by an impasse on what eventually became the 21st short-term extension of FAA funding when Mica inserted cuts to sudsidies for rural flight service that included airports in states represented by Democratic Senate leaders. Democrats argued the cuts were political retribution for their objection to the labor provisions in the bigger bill.