[As posted on National Journal’s Transportation Experts Blog]
After three years of delay and 16 short-term funding extensions, only a few legislative days remain for Congress to act on FAA Reauthorization this year. The Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions are urging the Senate to pass the FAA bill before adjournment.
The traveling public cannot afford another extension to next spring or later. Across the nation flight delays are chronic with 1 in 4 flights arriving or departing late in some airports. As the economy improves flight delays will only worsen. Meanwhile, airports are operating at capacity, runway incursions are on the rise and our air traffic control system is still using 50-year-old technology. FAA Reauthorization presents an opportunity to address these issues and many others.
For the workers we represent, passage of a comprehensive, multi-year FAA Reauthorization is critical. This legislation presents an opportunity to fix the broken collective bargaining system at the FAA, to protect the safety and health of flight attendants, to strengthen federal rules and oversight of aircraft maintenance outsourced to foreign repair stations, to improve the safety of aircraft operations, and to level the playing field for express carrier workers. In addition, this legislation will create 300,000 jobs at a time when our economy continues to struggle and too many Americans are out of work.
FedEx and its allies in the Senate have made it clear that they will use any and all procedural objections to block a bill that would eliminate the company’s ability to game our labor laws at the expense of its competitors and to the detriment of its workers. And now other issues have emerged that are stalling consideration of this bill. The Senate must work to resolve outstanding slot issues and pass a bill that improves safety, puts people to work, enhances worker rights, and ensures the efficiency of our aviation system. Further delay is simply not an option.