United MEC Government Affairs Committee Update

Date: January 21, 2015
Type: Report

114th CONGRESS (January 2015-December 2016) 

The 114th Congress was sworn in on January 6, 2015.  As a result of the 2014 mid-term elections, Republicans now control both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.   

Although the 113th Congress was just marginally more productive than the 112th Congress, we did achieve some notable successes including:

  • Rolling back TSA efforts to allow knives on planes and introducing stand-alone legislation in both the House and the Senate;
  • Worked with our friends on the Hill on both sides of the aisle to oppose NAI’s application for a foreign air carrier permit and to include language in the end of year funding bill (CROmnibus) addressing foreign air carrier permits;
  • Lobbied to keep voice calls off the aircraft and introducing stand-alone legislation in both the House and the Senate;
  • Witnessed the implementation of OSHA protections for Flight Attendants;
  • Reform of Senate rules for presidential Appointments;
  • Expanded marriage equality laws at the State level;
  • Worked with a number of central Labor Councils for minimum wage increases at the State level;
  • Solicited Members of Congress for completion of the Flight 93 Memorial

 When a new Congress convenes in the beginning of January, following an election, all legislation of the past two years that was introduced but failed to be passed into law expires.  (In laymen’s terms we start from scratch!)    

Our legislative priorities for the 114th Congress include:

FAA Reauthorization

  • AFA priority issues for this “must pass” legislation include 1) maintaining a strong U.S. aviation industry, preventing ‘flags of convenience” practices in the aviation industry  and safeguarding current foreign ownership and control language; 2) flight attendant rest requirements based on scientific studies; 3) awareness and training issues, including increased training and awareness of human trafficking and assault reporting; 4) requiring the FAA to perform full-scale emergency evacuation tests.   

TSA Reauthorization

  • AFA priority include keeping knives permanently on the prohibited items list, mandatory, comprehensive flight attendant security training and dealing with security threats created by cellular/wi-fi systems on aircraft, including a ban on voice calls

Stopping the TPP, T-TIP and Fast Track

  • The White House has flagged the TPP and Fast Track as priorities and has asked Congress for trade promotion authority.  The next month will be critical in our fight to oppose the TPP and Fast Track.  It is important that we work to help defeat Fast Track as the next trade agreement to be negotiated will be the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) which may include air traffic rights for the first time in history. 

Increased OSHA Standards

  • Addressing cabin temperature standards among other issues.   

Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)

The Transpacific Pacific Partnership (TPP) is poised to become the most dangerous trade agreement ever.  Current negotiating countries include the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Japan, Canada, Malaysia and Vietnam.  TPP dramatically expands corporate control and reduces the ability of the U.S. to promote health, safety and environmental regulations with our trading partners. This far reaching trade agreement would set rules governing approximately 40% of the world’s economy; yet, it is being negotiated behind closed doors. 

Though it could become the largest trade deal in history, the sweeping changes envisioned in TPP could become law without most Americans ever knowing what’s in it.  What we do know about this secretive pact comes from a handful of leaked documents.  Those documents indicate the TPP would threaten good paying jobs, a clean environment, affordable medicine, the air we breathe, internet freedom, food safety, commonsense banking regulations and more.  

Under the proposed deal, multinational corporations just have to demonstrate a threat to their “expected future profits’ from laws and regulations in order to bypass our court systems and directly sue governments in private international tribunals.  It will enable corporations to challenge everything from consumer safety laws to environmental protections to fair labor standards. 

Fast Track 

Corporate lobbyists are determined to rush the TPP through the Republican dominated 114th Congress using Fast Track Authority that would allow TPP to circumvent ordinary Congressional review, amendment and debate procedures.  Fast Track, now known as Trade Promotion Authority, would prevent Congress from amending or changing any provision in the agreement and would only allow for an up or down vote. 

The next few weeks are critical as “Fast Track” legislation is expected to come before Congress in March.  CWA is part of a 100-group coalition that is fighting back against Fast Track.  To stop the TPP, we must stop Fast Track legislation.  CWA’ers and activists from our coalition partners will participate in National Call-In week beginning January 26, to urge members of Congress to oppose Fast Track. 

CWA has established a toll free number 1-888-966-9836 which will connect you to your US Representative, through your zip code.  PLEASE take the time to call your Representative this week.    


“As a constituent, I expect you to stand up for American workers and oppose Fast Track for the TPP”

President Obama and Congressional Republicans Agree

It was very disappointing that President Obama asked for trade promotion authority in his State of the Union address.  It was one of the few moments in his speech that Republicans stood up and cheered.  The labor community has made this a top priority issue and it is important that we work to help defeat Fast Track as the next trade agreement to be negotiated will be the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).  The European Union has pushed for inclusion of air traffic rights as they seek to open up our domestic market to cabotage operations and increase the level of allowable foreign ownership and control of U.S. airlines.  Increasing foreign control and ownership would have a devastating impact on our job security.    

FAA Reauthorization

                  Every few years Congress is supposed to re-evaluate the priorities of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and assign funding for its programs in a “reauthorization” bill.  The FAA is currently operating under a Reauthorization bill that is set to expire in a few months. 

                  Before it can be enacted into law, the FAA Reauthorization bill goes through the same process as all bills introduced in the U.S. Congress including introduction; referral to committee; debate and vote in committee; debate and vote on House and Senate floor; referral to conference committee if different versions of the bill are approved; and then referral to the President. 

                  The FAA reauthorization process presents an opportunity for AFA to address some of our priority issues.  AFA’s Government Affairs Director Steve Schembs has been speaking with both House and Senate Aviation Subcommittee staff about the key Flight Attendant issues we would like addressed in the bill.   The main focus of our February lobby visits will be to encourage Members of Congress to support those key issues. 

February Training/Lobby

                  The United MEC Government Affairs training is scheduled for Feb. 18-20 in Washington, DC.  Although this is called training, it our opportunity to meet with members of Congress to discuss our priority legislative issues.  Government Affairs training basics will be a brief session early afternoon on Wednesday (our travel day).   Every new Congress it is important to begin new relationships or reaffirm our relationships with Congressional offices.  We cannot (and should not) let others peak for us.  United Airlines lobbyists have a very strong presence on Capitol Hill and to retain our clout in the legislative arena we need a continued presence on the Hill as well. 





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