On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I urge you to vote YES on the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 302). This bipartisan 5-year reauthorization makes critical investments in the FAA and the National Airspace System (NAS), and provides the long-term and predictable funding that the system needs. We are also pleased that the bill includes several labor priorities that will advance safety and improve working conditions for aviation workers.
H.R. 302 takes several important steps to improve aviation safety. The bill includes a provision that increases the minimum rest period for flight attendants from eight hours to ten hours – long a top legislative priority for flight attendant unions. This common sense reform harmonizes rest regulations with those for pilots and combats chronic fatigue among flight crewmembers. The bill also includes language that will help curb the troubling rise in assaults on airline customer service agents by requiring airlines to implement an assault prevention and response plan for these employees and provide necessary training.
Several other provisions make meaningful improvements to aviation safety. The bill requires all newly manufactured commercial passenger aircraft to be equipped with secondary cockpit barriers, bans in-flight voice cell phone calls, requires the regulation of service and emotional support animals on aircraft, and improves the safe transport of lithium batteries. H.R. 302 also establishes a task force to combat sexual assault and harassment in the aviation industry, and requires the Department of Justice to streamline and strengthen the reporting process for instances of sexual assault. We are pleased that the bill rejected efforts to weaken pilot training and qualification standards. It also excluded a provision that would have promoted single-pilot operation of commercial aircraft, as well as a misguided provision that would have exempted truck drivers from state and local labor protections, including meal and rest break and wage laws.
We are disappointed that the bill does not include language approved by the full House that would have prevented flag of convenience carriers from undermining U.S. jobs by requiring the Departments of State and Transportation to uphold and enforce the terms of our aviation trade agreements. We also oppose the inclusion of a provision that would set the stage for weakening certification standards for maintenance workers by making repairman certificates portable between aircraft maintenance facilities. We remain committed to addressing these concerns.
With the inclusion of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Reauthorization in this package, we are pleased that the bill requires the TSA to convene a working group with union representatives and management to improve personnel management systems and working conditions for Transportation Security Officers (TSOs). We are disappointed, however, that the bill contains changes to the Screening Partnership Program that would weaken the standards for airports to move to private security screening operations.
H.R. 302 makes critical steps that will further strengthen the safest aviation system in the world. Through targeted policy improvements, and meaningful investments, this bill will improve operations while giving our nation’s air traffic controllers and FAA inspectors and system specialists the resources they need to modernize and meet emerging challenges in a vastly expanding network. I urge you to vote yes on H.R. 302.
Larry I. Willis