The battle over the future of organized labor is not just going on at the state level. It’s national as well.
The Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill contains language that would make it drastically harder for rail or aviation workers to unionize. The bill is sponsored by House Transportation Chairman John Mica (R-Fla), who is a favorite of the airline industry. According to reports, the bill contains a provision that states if an eligible worker fails to vote for union representation he or she will be tallied as an active vote against representation.
The intent of the provision is clear–make it harder for union organizers to round up all voters rather than just a simple majority when voting on employment matters.
The provision was passed by voice vote during markup while the bill was in committee. Later, Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill) offered an amendment shortly afterwards that would strip the provision from the final bill, describing it as a clear effort on the part of Republicans to bust unions.
And the timing of the provision is no accident. Last July the federal National Mediation Board, the body that adjudicates labor-management disputes, ruled that absent votes ought not be counted against unionization. The ruling was praised by labor officials as a signature victory. Ever since then anti-union activists have placed it squarely in their sights.
Given the current makeup of the House the measure is expected to pass, which is why union activists have turned to the Senate to try and defeat it.
It is clear that we should expect more measures like this one as Republicans double-down on efforts to undo the decades of rights and advances brought by unions. From child labor laws, wage and hour laws to workplace safety, American workers are better off as a result of the battles fought on their behalf by unions.
Still think the Republicans have the American public’s best interests at heart?
photo courtesy of cliff1066 via Flickr