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Tue, Mar 06, 2007

Transportation Labor Releases Agenda For FAA Reauthorization Bill

Says US Aviation At 'Critical Juncture' As Funding Battle Looms

This week, transportation labor leaders unveiled an FAA Reauthorization agenda that "enhances aviation safety, protects aviation employees, supports good jobs and boosts aviation trust fund and general treasury funding to ensure a sound aviation system."

"This bill will impact everything from jobs and workers' rights to safety, security and how prepared our aviation system is for the looming capacity crisis," said Edward Wytkind, President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD). "Transportation Labor looks forward to working with lawmakers to chart a safe and secure course for aviation that incorporates the needs of private and public sector workers."

At the biannual meeting of TTD's 32-member Executive Committee, transportation labor leaders approved a comprehensive proposal for FAA reauthorization -- and it's not limited to funding issues. Highlights of their proposal include:

  • Congress must increase funding for all aspects of the aviation system to match the projected boom in air travel in the coming decade.
  • Stating the FAA continues to take advantage of a poorly constructed law to refuse good faith negotiations with its unions, the leaders say Congress must clarify that contract terms cannot be imposed on workers and instead resolved through binding arbitration.
  • Congress must address minimum rest requirements for airline pilots and flight attendants.
  • Congress must reject any attempts by the Administration or others to change aviation laws to allow cabotage (domestic point-to-point travel) operations by foreign carriers, or expand foreign control of US airlines.
  • Once again stating foreign aircraft repair stations are exempt from safeguards such as drug and alcohol testing for employees, unscheduled inspections and oversight of certain repair work, FAA must implement and enforce regulations to close safety and security loopholes.
  • While most workplace safety regulations are governed by the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), the group says the same is not true for aircraft cabins. To better protect flight attendants from unsafe conditions, OSHA standards must be applied and enforced.
  • Leaders claim the FAA is badly mismanaging an air traffic staffing crisis, with 12,000 fully trained workers needed by 2015. Congress must provide oversight and funding to ensure a safe level of highly skilled and trained controllers, inspectors and technicians.
  • As air traffic increases and the potential for runway accidents also increases, airports must install additional warning systems, enhanced signage and improved lighting systems.
  • FAA standards for Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting are woefully out of date. Since airport fire departments are not required to be capable of performing passenger rescue in the event of a crash or on-board fire, FAA standards must be updated.
  • New technology is being installed to improve the safety of helicopter pilots who fly to and from oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Congress must conduct oversight and ensure that these safety initiatives are properly funded and carried out.
  • The group claims FedEx and other companies have been allowed to misuse labor law and misclassify their delivery truck drivers and mechanics as aviation workers to make it more difficult for employees to unionize. It is time for Congress to step in and stop anti-union companies from misusing laws to block organizing attempts by workers.

"Aviation workers are key to a safe and efficient air travel system that is a critical part of the global economy," Wytkind said.

FMI: www.ttd.org, www.faa.gov

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