United MEC Government Affairs Committee Update

Date: April 20, 2010
Type: Report


The Government Affairs Committee began the first phase of an aggressive lobby campaign to help educate members of Congress on HR 4788 The Aviation Jobs Outsourcing Prevention Act. Primary sponsor Representative Tim Bishop (D-NY) and original cosponsors Representative Thad McCotter (R-MI) and Representative Michael Michaud (D-ME) introduced the legislation on March 9, 2010. Since then, members of the Government Affairs Committee have been on the Hill trying to build support for this bill.

This legislation would require U.S. workers to receive a fair share of the jobs that support revenue sharing partnerships between U.S. airlines and foreign carriers, like the United-Aer Lingus joint venture on the Dulles-Madrid route. H.R. 4788 stops U.S. job loss by stipulating that when U.S. airlines enter into these types of joint ventures the amount of revenue the airline receives is proportionate to the amount of flying the U.S. airline actually provides its workers.

I am working very closely with the ALPA United MEC Legislative Affairs Committee Chair, Jim Smart, on this issue and we are coordinating our lobby visits and follow-up. ALPA did get off to a good start last month and lobbied about 80 House offices but the introduction of HR 4788 coincided with the debate on health care reform legislation. We are now circling back with most of those House offices to make sure that HR 4788 remains on their radar screen. Since staffers work on so many different issues, our follow-up after a lobby visit is about 80% of the work.

In addition, Local Council Government Affairs Committee Members are sending Greg’s March 25 letter, in support of HR 4788, electronically to Congressional staffers. This way the staffer understands that there is also support for HR 4788 from the Local Council. By e-mailing the letter directly to the staffer who handles transportation issues we do not have to wait for the letter to arrive by U.S mail. Mail to Capitol Hill is still routed through Ohio and examined for chemical substances. In some cases, letters can take 3-4 weeks before arriving in an office.

Scheduling appointments and coordinating with ALPA has been a bit challenging and time-consuming. The initial contact made by the Local Council Government Affairs Committee Members, as been a tremendous help.

District Office Visits

Once we make initial contact with most of the House offices, the next step in this lobby campaign will be a letter from the Local Council President to those House offices that have yet to sign on as a cosponsor of HR 4788. I will draft those letters and send them to you electronically, so you can copy them on your letterhead and sign.

The U.S. House of Representatives will be in recess from May 31 – June 4, so this would be an excellent opportunity to schedule meetings in the District, to discuss HR 4788. If you need assistance scheduling these appointments, please let me know.

HR 4788 Cosponsors

As of our lobby visits the week of April 12, HR 4788 has 28 cosponsors plus Tim Bishop. HR 4788 was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, so our primary goal is to build cosponsors who sit on that Committee. The sponsors/cosponsors include:

  • Tim Bishop (D-NY) member of House Transportation Committee
  • Michael Michaud (D-ME) member of House Transportation Committee
  • Thad McCotter (R-MI) Republican Policy Committee Chair
  • John Garamendi (D-CA) member of the House Transportation Committee
  • Corrine Brown (D-FL) member of House Transportation Committee
  • Candice Miller (R-MI) member of the House Transportation Committee
  • David Loesback (D-IA)
  • Phil Hare (D-IL) member of the House Transportation Committee
  • Albio Sires (D-NJ) member of the House Transportation Committee
  • Mark Schauer (D-MI) member of House Transportation Committee
  • Steve Kagen (D-WI) member of House Transportation Committee
  • Pete Stark (D-CA)
  • Tim Murphy (R-PA)
  • Bob Filner (D-CA) member of House Transportation Committee
  • Steve Israel (D-NY)
  • Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
  • Michael Capuano (D-MA) member of House Transportation Committee
  • Michael Arcuri (D-NY) member of House Transportation Committee
  • Gerry Connolly (D-VA)
  • Russ Carnahan (D-MO) member of House Transportation Committee
  • Tim Holden (D-PA) member of House Transportation Committee
  • John Boccieri (D-OH) member of House Transportation Committee
  • Chris Carney (D-PA) member of House Transportation Committee
  • Keith Ellison (D-MN)
  • John Hall (D-NY) member of House Transportation Committee
  • Nick Rahall (D-WV) member of House Transportation Committee
  • Tim Walz (D-MN) member of House Transportation Committee
  • Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)
  • Pete Visclosky (D-IN)

There are 45 Democrats and 30 Republicans on the House Transportation Committee.

We are working under a limited time frame to try to increase the number of cosponsors on the bill and to get companion legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate as the target adjournment date for the 111th Congress is October 8, 2010.

Senate Sponsor

At one point, we were hoping that we could get the Aviation Jobs Outsourcing Prevention Act language attached to the FAA Reauthorization bill. Unfortunately without a Senate sponsor for the legislation that opportunity has passed.

AFA has been working with both, the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) national office on contacting potential Senate sponsors. First choice was a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Greg and UAL MEC Chair Wendy Morse met with Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) Senate Aviation Subcommittee Chair.

Last week Steve Schembs and I were able to have a very in depth conversation with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Senator Brown expressed a real desire to do what he could to help us but he also felt that since he was not on the Senate Commerce Committee he may not be the “right” Senator to introduce the HR 4788 companion bill. We are still in contact with his office.

There are also meetings schedule this week with both Senators from Colorado, Senators Mark Udall (D) and Michael Bennet (D) to discuss this legislation. AFA will also be meeting again with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on this issue.


In a parallel campaign to our lobby efforts on HR 4788, we are also seeking Congressional assistance in ensuring that the Department of Transportation (DOT) considers the impact on jobs before granting antitrust immunity. As a condition of obtaining antitrust immunity, we believe that U.S. carriers have an obligation to their workers.

While the DOT thoroughly examines the effects of alliances on consumers and competition before granting antitrust immunity, they only give a cursory glance to the impact on labor. It is essential that the DOT make sure that alliances are positive and protective of U.S. workers. In particular, there needs to be assurances that these alliances do not result in the outsourcing of our jobs.

Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Tim Bishop (D-NY) are working on a sign-on letter to Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood expressing these concerns. Once the letter is finalized and circulated, we will be working to get House member signatures on that letter.

Representative Speier also sent a letter to Secretary LaHood expressing her concern with the Aer Lingus and United Airlines joint venture. The letter is included with this report.


Another 30-day extension to fund the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was passed just before the Spring Recess, in order to keep the FAA operating. Although both the House and the Senate have approved their versions of FAA Reauthorization, there are differences in the bills that must be worked out in Conference Committee, before it can go to the President for his signature.

The areas of interest to Flight Attendants in the FAA Reauthorization bill include funding for and completion of the study of Flight Attendant fatigue, OSHA-type health and safety standards for Flight Attendants, air quality studies to determine hazardous contaminants present in cabin bleed air and the technologies available to detect and filter out these contaminants, a smoking ban on charter flights, provisions making the ban on in-flight cell phone use permanent, a requirement that airlines disclose when insecticides will be applied in-flight, a study on cabin temperature standards, funding for a Flight Attendant HIMS program, re-affirming citizenship requirements for ownership and control of U.S. airlines and an English language proficiency requirement for Flight Attendants.

The more controversial issues included in the bills are the Oberstar antitrust immunity review language, a requirement that foreign repair stations would be inspected by the FAA at least twice yearly and would mandate that safety workers at those facilities be subject to drug and alcohol testing and changes to FedEx’s status as an express carrier.

At this point, there has been no indication that about which Senators and Representatives will make up the Conference Committee. Since the Conferees have not been appointed and it will likely take some negotiations to work out the controversial proposals, another funding extension of the FAA will be required.


A disturbing new Pew poll finds historic levels of discontent with the federal government and its role in the lives of “average” Americans. This dissatisfaction with the government and the U.S. Congress in particular, is at the foundation of what is shaping up to be a strongly anti-incumbent political year.

Many of our good friends in Congress are facing extremely difficult races. With all 435 House seats up for election in the mid-term election, there is the possibility that the U.S. House of Representatives may change hands. This would mean that many of our friends who Chair important House Committees will no longer be in charge and setting the agenda.

We will be planning our bi-annual non-partisan voter registration/voter information drives with an emphasis on the absentee ballot process. Traditionally, mid-term elections have low voter turnout so we want to make sure that our Members have the tools and information they need to cast their ballots.

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