Businessweek reports that the Federal Aviation Administration is going into a partial shutdown today, following action by Sen. Harry Reid that attempts to give Big Labor yet another reward.
Efforts to avert a shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration failed Friday amid a disagreement over a $16.5 million cut in subsidies to 13 rural communities, ensuring that nearly 4,000 people will be temporarily out of work and federal airline ticket taxes will be suspended.
Lawmakers were unable to resolve a partisan dispute over an extension of the agency’s operating authority, which expired at midnight Friday.
Deeper down in the story, here’s what happened.
Long-term funding authority for the FAA expired in 2007. Unable to agree on new long-term funding legislation for the agency, Congress has kept the FAA operating through a series of 20 short-term extension bills. The extensions had been routine until this week.
The Senate passed a long-term bill in February and the House a different version in April. Lawmakers have resolved most of the differences between the bills, but no progress has been made on a half dozen or more controversial issues.
Republicans say Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is insisting that a labor provision in the House bill sought by the airline industry must be dropped before negotiations can go forward.
The labor provision would overturn a National Mediation Board rule approved last year that allows airline and railroad employees to form a union by a simple majority of those voting. Under the old rule, workers who didn’t vote were treated as “no” votes.
Republicans complain that the new rule reverses 75 years of precedent to favor labor unions. Democrats and union officials say the change puts airline and railroad elections under the same democratic rules required for unionizing all other companies.
This seems to follow the pattern we’ve seen since Obama’s inauguration, of putting Big Labor at the front of the benefits line while using the power of the federal government to punish Big Labor’s enemies. The administration handed substantial control of GM and Chrysler to the United Auto Workers union as part of the bailouts. Obama’s NLRB has moved against Boeing in South Carolina, where if the NLRB prevails state right-to-work laws may be in jeopardy, and against Arizona and South Dakota on snap union elections. That change would allow labor unions to muster support behind the scenes while giving management very little time to inform workers of the potential downfalls of unionizing. The FAA move appears to be similar to the snap election move. All of these moves together look like an orchestrated effort to save Big Labor, which as a movement has been dying out over the past few decades. If Big Labor dies, the Democratic Party will lose millions in campaign funding every year. What empowering Big Labor does to the US economy is of secondary, if not tertiary, consideration to Reid, Obama et al.