FAA funding bill limits labor unions

David Gura Feb 7, 2012

After five years of arguing, a pile of stop-gap funding measures, and complaints from labor unions, Congress has come up with a roadmap governing air travel in America.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gets its funding. GPS navigation will play a much bigger role in our skies. And the legislation requires that within five years, robots will be permitted to share more of American skies.

The Senate passed the measure 75-20 Monday.

A huge stumbling block in the passage of the legislation had to do with labor unions, specifically, how many votes employees need to unionize. Under this legislation employees would need more signatures than they did in the past.

“In terms of private employment in the United States, the airline industry is really one of the few industries where unions are still very important,” said Seth Kaplan, with the trade magazine “Airline Weekly.”

Labor unions argue that they weren’t consulted as lawmakers crafted this compromise. And they say that this bill – which is a funding bill – isn’t the place for a provision like this one.

“This reauthorization bill has made that incredibly difficult – much harder than it has to be,” said Candice Johnson, with the Communications Workers of America. “All because of ideology, not because there should have been anything in the bill that dealt with this issue at all.”

Another controversial element in the bill has to do with the use of drones in U.S. airspace. The bill says that a plan has to be in place within the next few years to allow more use of drones for domestic use.

Once strictly a military technology, now everyone from scientists to police departments want to use drones for research and surveillance.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.