The Politicization of the FAA Reauthorization Act

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In an economy slowly clawing its way out of recession, it is hard to imagine Congress looking for ways to saddle a key sector with new taxes and restrictions. But that is exactly what Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) is proposing in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2009. The bill nearly doubles the Passenger Facility Charge. And then there is Section 806, which singles out a specific company to burden it with a patchwork of burdensome new work rules. Call it the “union payback” provision.

Section 806, an amendment also proposed by Rep. Oberstar, dramatically changes the rules upon which FedEx, one of America’s most successful companies, has built its business. It changes the labor jurisdiction of FedEx workers from the Railway Labor Act (RLA) to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This bill already passed the House of Representatives. It was read twice in the Senate, where it now awaits action in the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Unless the Senate removes the amendment, Oberstar’s proposal could devastate a company that could play a critical role in the recovery of the American economy.