On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), and the hundreds of thousands of aviation workers represented by our affiliated unions, I urge you to support the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2009 (H.R. 915), when it is considered by the House later today. I also urge you to reject any procedural motions that would weaken or delay consideration of this important legislation.
The bill establishes a system to resolve labor-management contract disputes at the FAA. The previous Administration misused current law to unilaterally impose work rules and conditions on its air traffic controllers and refused to bargain in good faith with other FAA unions. This legislation would reverse this hostile approach to bargaining and ensure that future disputes are settled in a fair manner without unilateral action by the FAA.
We are pleased that H.R. 915 includes a provision that will ensure that all express carrier employees are covered under the same labor law. This will give ground workers at FedEx a fair chance to be represented by a union and to engage in collective bargaining with its employers. Despite claims to the contrary, FedEx truck drivers are not aviation employees and to treat them as such for the sole purpose of denying collective bargaining rights can no longer be tolerated.
H.R. 915 includes a number of critical safety-related reforms. For example, this legislation requires the FAA to prescribe and enforce health and safety standards for flight attendants working in the aircraft cabin; it mandates that workers at aircraft foreign repair stations be held to the same drug and alcohol testing rules as workers at U.S. stations and that these facilities be inspected at least twice a year by FAA inspectors; it requires the FAA to revise outdated Airport Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) standards to protect flight crew members, firefighters and the traveling public; and it seeks to resolve pilot and flight attendant fatigue as crewmembers often find themselves deprived of critically needed rest.
The legislation also reaffirms current law which requires U.S. carriers to be under the actual control of U.S. citizens. The European Union (EU), in current talks with the U.S. over an expanded open skies agreement, is pushing for elimination of our ownership and control rules and even to allow foreign carriers to provide point to point service in the U.S. Congress must send a strong message that it will move to protect the U.S. aviation system and its workers from the unfair competition and one-sided agreement that the EU is pursuing.
H.R. 915 includes measures to modernize the national airspace system and requires that the FAA collaborate with its unions in this process. Cooperation with front-line workers is critical to the success of any modernization efforts.
Finally, this legislation provides much needed funding for airports and the entire aviation system. Increased investment will enhance safety, expand capacity, and promote efficiency, all of which are essential to maintaining a strong and competitive U.S. aviation system.
The last FAA reauthorization, Vision 100, expired in October 2007 and an updated reauthorization is long over-due. We urge you to support final passage of H.R. 915 and reject any efforts to prevent this legislation from moving forward.