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Union’s representing FAA employees blame Republicans for partial shutdown

10.13.11

OCTOBER 2011, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Union’s representing FAA employees blame Republicans for partial shutdown

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

LEHIGH VALLEY, September 21st- A brief funding extension for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was passed by the United States Congress on September 10th, that will protect the jobs and livlihhoods of aviation professionals until at least December, 2011.

The Federal Aviation Administration was partial shutdown in August after Congress in Washington, DC failed to resolve differences between congressional Democrats and Republicans on FAA spending. The shutdown effected tens of thousands of construction jobs across the nation along with modernization projects.

The partial shutdown was caused after members of the Republican House of Representatives sought to eliminate $16.5 million in federal subsidies for 13 rural airports that would have been forced to stop providing service on routes that do not make money for airline carriers.

Senate Democrats refused to support the cuts and legislation on the FAA’s operating budget was stalled. Congress took their August recess without resolving the issue.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) Union in Washington, DC urged lawmakers to pass an FAA extension before recess. However, a bipartisan compromise was reached on August 4th that ended the partial shutdown of the FAA. Congress suspended their August recess to vote on the measure on August 5th.

The agreement extended the FAA’s operating authority through mid-September. The legislation includes the rural airports subsidies.

Congress then agreed to extend the funding of the FAA until December 31st.

“This FAA extension is a jobs bill and it directly impacts the lives of real people, skilled aviation professionals who play a vital role in the safety critical function of the FAA,” stated Paul Rinaldi, President of the NATCA, which represents 4,000 FAA employees including air traffic controllers. Air traffic controllers were not effected by the stalemate.

However, the union represents nearly 1,200 FAA Engineers and Architects, FAA Airports Division and Aviation Technical Systems Specialists. Those workers were laid-off during the shutdown which stopped the modernization projects throughout the nation.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Union, which represents airline employees, including mechanics and stewards, stated Republicans have an double standard on the FAA funding. According to the CWA, the Republican leadership successfully blocked Senator Tom Coburn (Republican-Oklahoma), from shutting down the FAA over his hatred of bike paths sound battiers.

“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 Representative John Mica (Republican-Florida) and his extreme, union-busting views that led to the FAA shutdown,” said CWA Communications Director Candice Johnson.

The union told the newspaper that the shutdown was caused by Mr. Mica’s zeal for union-busting which inserted into the House version of the long-term FAA Reauthorization a provision that would count non-participating voters as “no” voters in union elections for aviation and rail workers, a standard different from every other form of democratic election.

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