33 House Republicans Join ALPA to Restrict Competition and Soak Consumers

previously wrote about the campaign from the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) against Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) attempt to offer low-cost flights from the U.S. to Europe. Having lost their case in Europe, ALPA has teamed up with a European pilots’ union to pressure the Federal Aviation Administration to deny NAI’s petition for a foreign air carrier permit. In addition, ALPA is spending millions on a xenophobic ad campaign in a pathetic attempt to stoke ethnic and national division for its members’ narrow benefit. A sample line: “NAI calls itself Norwegian, but it registers its airplanes in Ireland, hires its pilots in Singapore, and bases its flight crews in Thailand.”

As I noted, none of this is surprising given ALPA’s history of turning a blind eye to racism within their ranks. For instance, in 2012, ALPA succeeded in getting one of its member pilots, Marcin Kolodziejczyk, reinstated after he had been fired by his employer Mesa Airlines. Kolodziejczyk, who at the time was vice chairman of the Master Executive Council (MEC) at Mesa, was fired by the airline after sending an email to a number of ALPA officials with the following remarks about Mesa’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources, who also happens to be black, during contract negotiations:

He was hanging from the ceiling making monkey sounds. That’s all I witnessed at the meeting I was at . . . Stay focused and I already have the chains for him, just need your help to string him up!

Not only did ALPA get Kolodziejczyk reinstated with full seniority and back pay by exploiting technicalities within the collective bargaining agreement, it then promoted him to chairman of the MEC at Mesa. Making things even worse, ALPA is currently featuring a YouTube video starring Kolodziejczyk from November of last year. I guess we know how to get ahead at ALPA.

Their multi-million dollar campaign against NAI is rooted in similar small-minded bigotry, although this time it’s cloaked in creepy nationalism and vague appeals to patriotism. Many have seen through this anti-consumer protectionist campaign. Unfortunately, 33 House GOP members sent a letter to the Secretary of Transportation yesterday parroting ALPA’s bogus claims against NAI. Republicans constantly talk about “principles,” “limited government,” and “free enterprise.” But when the time comes to actually promoting free enterprise, competition, and consumer welfare, they often do the opposite of their stated beliefs.

The GOP is in the midst of a branding crisis after its crushing defeat in 2012. Many articles have been written about efforts to re-brand the party as a force against crony capitalism and corporate welfare, and one for individual liberty and true free market capitalism. Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney’s “libertarian populism” approximates the principles reformers such as Sen. Rand Paul seek to inject into the GOP. Unfortunately, the GOP has too many of what conservative guru Grover Norquist calls “rat heads in a Coke bottle.” Maybe that’s a bit flamboyant, but Norquist’s underlying point is that Republican politicians tarnish the whole party with their unprincipled actions. It’s a basic quality control issue.

While Norquist is specifically referring to Republicans who vote for tax increases, I believe the “rat heads” line of thought applies just as well here: nearly three dozen members of Congress going against their stated principles for the benefit of a union comprised mostly of pilots making six-figure salaries in order to prevent Americans access to $150 flights to Europe. If Reince Priebus and John Boehner ever want to know why most Americans don’t trust Republicans to do anything right, the case of NAI and ALPA is a shining example of brand mismanagement. Here’s the list of the 33 House GOP members who signed on to the letter:

  1. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.);
  2. Fred Upton (R-Mich.);
  3. Ted Poe (R-Texas);
  4. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.);
  5. David McKinley (R-W.Va.);
  6. Paul Cook (R-Calif.);
  7. Walter Jones (R-N.C.);
  8. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.);
  9. David Joyce (R-Ohio);
  10. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.);
  11. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.);
  12. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.);
  13. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.);
  14. Patrick Tiberi (R-Ohio);
  15. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.);
  16. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio);
  17. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.);
  18. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.);
  19. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.);
  20. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio);
  21. Don Young (R-Alaska);
  22. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.);
  23. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.);
  24. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.);
  25. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.);
  26. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio);
  27. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.);
  28. Lee Terry (R-Neb.);
  29. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.);
  30. David Valada (R-Calif.);
  31. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.);
  32. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.); and
  33. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.).