What the FAA Shutdown and the Debt Ceiling Negotiations Have in Common

The following is a crossblog from NALC Activist Alert:

Republicans in Congress have affected up to 90,000 jobs by driving the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to a shutdown over partisan objections to an election law rule change that brings the union election system in line with the democratic values that guide American elections.

Up until the National Mediation Board (NMB) issued the rule change, many air and rail workers whose jobs were governed by the Rail Labor Act (RLA) had the deck stacked against them in union elections. Under the old system, when a union certification election was held, workers who wanted a union were not only up against those who didn’t want a union–they were up against workers who didn’t vote at all. You read that correctly. If a worker did not vote, their vote was counted as a vote against the union.

Obviously the old system for union elections spits in the face of American democratic values. But Republicans want to keep it that way–so badly, in fact, that they have refused to allow for spending reauthorization for the FAA until they get the anti-democratic system put back in place. Congress should have passed this reauthorization, as it has without controversy over 20 times in past years.

Republicans’ tantrum over reinstating an unfair and undemocratic rule, which egregiously disadvantages workers seeking to join a union, should serve as a warning sign that they may apply the same flawed decision-making to the negotiations over what should be a routine raising of the debt ceiling–a needless roadblock that could prevent the United States from paying its bills, causing it to spiral into another recession.

Just as the debt ceiling uncertainty is costing America every day that it is prolonged, Congress’ inability to reauthorize funds for the FAA costs as well. The latest estimates show that for every week that Republicans in Congress refuse to govern, the U.S. government adds $200 million to the deficit in lost ticket fees. The result is far from fiscal responsibility.

Americans want Congress to reduce the deficit when the economy is back on track, and they want to participate in the discussion about how to do that. But holding key services like Medicare and Social Security hostage while shutting down full agencies at the same time is exactly the opposite of what Americans want.

(Drawing by John Digesare at thepoliticalcarnival.net.)


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