By Opposing Airline Merger, Obama Risks Wrath of Powerful Unions

When the Department of Justice unexpectedly filed suit to block the merger between US Airways and American Airlines, I noted that unions representing various workers at both airlines would likely oppose the Obama administration’s antitrust intervention.

As it turned out, union opposition was considerably broader, with the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department weighing in against the DOJ lawsuit. After public-sector unions, transportation unions are the largest political spenders in the U.S. labor movement and serve as critical allies to President Obama.

The latest Big Labor-Obama spat has been largely ignored by media. However, Fox News picked up on the story and essentially asked how much abuse are unions willing to take from the Obama administration. After spending record amounts to get the president reelected, unions are almost certainly wondering when the Obama administration will give them the play for which they paid.

It is too early to tell what will become of the Justice Department’s suit. The airlines plan to vigorously fight the flawed antitrust lawsuit and have filed a motion seeking a November 12 court hearing on the matter. While I usually don’t find myself agreeing with labor unions, they are on the right side of the issue with respect to the pending US Airways-American Airlines merger — albeit primarily for the wrong reasons.