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WASHINGTON - Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa today said congressional Republicans should act responsibly and end the impasse over Federal Aviation Administration spending.
A dispute between the House and Senate over air service for small communities is masking the real reason lawmakers can't agree on funding the FAA.
Republicans want to repeal a commonsense change in the union election rule implemented by the National Mediation Board last year. The rule no longer counts absent voters as "no" votes. As a result, union elections are now just like every other election in a democracy. But because Republican leaders oppose workers' rights, safety and modernization projects are halted and people are losing their jobs.
"The Republican leadership is trying to please certain airline CEOs who aim to weaken workers' rights," Hoffa said. "It's disgraceful for elected officials to force Americans out of work, let alone force them out of work in order to take away their democratic rights."
An estimated 90,000 construction and agency jobs are at risk because of the partial FAA shutdown. Four thousand FAA workers were furloughed over the weekend. Construction workers are losing their jobs in dozens of airports. The FAA has issued more than 60 stop orders. Work on new control towers has stopped at LaGuardia Airport; Las Vegas; Palm Springs, Calif.; Oakland, Calif.; Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Traverse City, Mich.; Kalamazoo, Mich.; and Gulfport, Miss.
Plans were put on hold to rehabilitate a major taxiway at Orlando International Airport, which is represented by Rep. John Mica, the chief Republican negotiator in talks over FAA funding. Mica had inserted a policy rider in the latest extension of FAA reauthorization that eliminated Essential Air Service for some small communities. In reality, Republicans are refusing to reauthorize the bill because they want to repeal the NMB election rules.
"It appears to be too much to ask the Republican leadership to uphold simple fairness in elections, keep people working and modernize our aviation system," Hoffa said. "They themselves wouldn't be in office, if the rule they wanted in place applied to their own elections."