Republicans clearly have developed a taste for brinksmanship negotiations, taking yet another prisoner, the Federal Aviation Administration. The agency has been partially shut down since July 23 and will likely continue through at least Labor Day.
At least 4000 agency employees are now out of work while airport safety inspectors continue to work without pay and tens of thousands of construction workers who had been working on airport projects now sit idle.
To add insult to injury those airport inspectors working without pay have been asked to charge their government travel expenses to their personal credit cards to keep airports operating safely.
Welcome to America, Tea Party style.
Like every battle with the Republicans, the fight over the FAA is a proxy battle. Republicans claim the impasse is because of a dispute over funding of rural commercial air subsidies. But the real battle is about union-busting.
Republicans are unhappy about a new regulation, instituted by the National Mediation Board that requires an employee vote on labor representation be approved by a majority of those voting. The previous rule required a majority of all affected employees, meaning that if an employee failed to vote that vote was counted as a “no.”
Democrats charge that Republicans are trying to reverse the rule to benefit carriers like Delta who fought against union representation for their workers.
Meanwhile, Congress is set to leave town on recess, leaving thousands of workers either out of work or taking on debt so that they can continue to work without pay. Wonder how many of those members of Congress offered to give up their salary during recess in solidarity with these federal employees?
Photo from puddy_uk via flickr.