United MEC Government Affairs Committee Update

Date: July 25, 2012
Type: Report


This week President Obama's Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced plans for the second phase of the Know Crew Member (KCM) initiative, offering expedited security screening to verified Flight Attendants employed by U.S. carriers.  The KCM program has been currently limited to U.S. airline pilots but because of our determination and continued advocacy and the help we received from our friends on Capitol Hill, Flight Attendants will be covered under the same program.

TSA anticipates that it could take up to 12 months for air carriers and their service providers to make the necessary system modifications and fully develop, test and implement this change to the KCM program.  Flight Attendants could begin to experience expedited screening as early as fall 2012.  Please keep in mind that the TSA will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures throughout the airport screening process.  Thirty-one airports currently participate in the program. 


In less than three months voters will go to the polls to elect a President, one-third of the United States Senate, all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives, as well as various state and local officials.  

The differences between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are pretty stark.  In his own words, Romney believes that labor unions "slow growth" and "frustrate innovation" and his labor policy "would seek to reduce the power of unions and consolidate job training programs." 

On the other hand President Obama recently stated that "a health economy doesn't just mean you're maximizing your own profits through massive layoffs and busting unions.  You don't make America stronger by shipping jobs and profits overseas".  Romney's own campaign literature states that President Obama is willing to play offense for organized labor.  

As Obama fights for Wall Street reform, to ensure we end taxpayer-funded bailouts of the financial sector, the Romney campaign has already outraised the Obama campaign among financial sector donors $37.1 MILLION TO $4.8 MILLION.

The Obama tax plan keeps the current tax rates for almost everyone but the top few percent by allowing the Bush tax rates to expire for the wealthiest Americans.  The Romney tax plan is designed to make the 1% even wealthier by making the Bush tax cuts for higher-income earners permanent and lowering corporate, estate and capital gains taxes.

As the Obama Administration fights attempts to roll back, repeal and defund the Affordable Health Care Act, Romney boasts that he will repeal the legislation on his first day in office. 

What has been clear since President Obama took office is while he is working to salvage the economy so it works for middle class families, the Republicans in Congress are focused on setting up roadblocks to the President's agenda.  Republicans in Congress continue to vote down amendments that support the middle-class, create jobs and improve our country's infrastructure 

The Republican leadership persists in wanting to lower taxes on the "job creators" even though taxes on both the rich and investments are now taxed at a lower rate than wage income.  There is no evidence to back up the Republican leadership's claim that increasing taxes on the rich is destroying the economy.  In fact, these historically low tax rates did not lead to the job creation that was promised by the Bush administration.

Republicans in Congress are not shy about admitting their number one goal remains the defeat of Obama.  In October 2010, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) publically stated "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term President." 

Republican Super PAC's have spent seven times as much as their Democratic counterparts.  While we know some, but not all, of these mega-wealthy donors who are contributing to these Super Pac's, we do know that they support anti-working family, corporate backed conservative causes that want to eliminate collective bargaining, abolish labor law reform and limit workers ability to have a voice on the job.  

If Romney succeeds so much of what we have worked so hard for will be rolled back.  The climate under which our Joint Contract Negotiations will take place will be much more favorable to the company as the actions of the National Mediation Board reflect the political interests of the administration. 

United States Senate Race Ratings

The United States Senate is made up of two Senators from each of the fifty states.  A U.S. Senator serves a six-year term and every two years one-third of the United States Senate is up for election.  Of the thirty-three 2012 Senate races, 23 seats are held by Democrats and 10 are Republican held seats. The current Senate has 51 Democrats, 47 Republicans and 2 Independents.  

The list below provides a rating of the 2012 Senate races (in today's political climate): 

Toss up:  These races are highly competitive; either party has a good chance of winning
Leans:  These races are considered competitive but one party has an advantage
Likely:  These seats are not considered competitive but have the potential to become engaged
Solid:   Not likely to become contested (but stranger things have happened)  

Arizona:           Senator Jon Kyl (R) retiring   likely Republican

California:        incumbent Senator Dianne Feinstein (D)    solid Democrat

Connecticut:    Senator Joe Lieberman (I) retiring    likely Democrat

Delaware:       incumbent Senator Tom Carper (D)   solid Democrat

Florida:            incumbent Senator Bill Nelson (D)       toss up

Hawaii:            Senator Daniel Akaka (D) retiring      toss up  (see note below)

Indiana:           incumbent Richard Lugar lost primary    leans Republican

Maine:             Senator Olympia Snowe (R) retiring     leaning towards Independent Angus King 

Maryland:       incumbent Senator Ben Cardin (D)   solid Democrat

Massachusetts:   incumbent Senator Scott Brown (R)  toss up against Elizabeth Warren

Montana:        incumbent Senator Jon Tester (D)    toss up

Michigan:        incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow (D)   leans Democrat

Minnesota:     incumbent Senator Amy Klobuchar (D)    solid Democrat

Mississippi:    incumbent Senator Roger Wicker (R)     solid Republican

Missouri:       incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill (D)     toss up

Nebraska:      Senator Ben Nelson (D) retiring     likely Republican

Nevada:     incumbent Senator Dean Heller (R) toss up against Congresswoman Shelley       Berkley (D)  

New Jersey:   incumbent Senator Bob Menendez (D)   likely Democrat

New Mexico:    Senator Jeff Bingaman (R) retiring      toss up

New York:     incumbent Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D)    solid Democrat

North Dakota:   Senator Kent Conrad (D) retiring    toss up

Ohio:    incumbent Senator Sherrod Brown (D)    leans Democrat

Pennsylvania:    incumbent Senator Bob Casey (D)  leans Democrat

Rhode Island:  incumbent Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D)   solid Democrat

Tennessee:      incumbent Senator Bob Corker (R)   solid Republican

Texas:    Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R) retiring    solid Republican

Utah:   incumbent Senator Orrin Hatch (R)    solid Republican

Vermont:   incumbent Senator Bernie Sanders (I)   solid Bernie

Virginia:    Senator Jim Webb (R) retiring    toss up

Washington:     incumbent Senator Maria Cantwell (D)     solid Democrat

West Virginia:    incumbent Senator Joe Manchin (D)      likely Democrat

Wisconsin:  Senator Herb Kohl (D) retiring    toss up

Wyoming:    incumbent Senator John Barrasso (R)    solid Republican

(Note) Hawaii:  An August Primary between Representative Mazie Hirono and former Representative Ed Case will decide the democratic candidate to face Republican Linda Lingle.   AFA's FlightPAC Steering Committee has not taken a position in the Democratic Primary.   The November Senate race is considered a toss up. 

Political analysts are already predicting that there will be a thin majority for either side in 2013. 

House of Representatives

The 2012 House of Representatives elections will be held for all 435 seats representing the 50 United States.  Elections will also be held for the delegates from the District of Columbia and the five major U.S. territories – American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.

In the 2010 midterm elections Republicans had a net gain of 63 seats to gain the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.  After Republican John Boehner took over the gavel from former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the Center for Public Integrity released a report examining the deep ties of Republican House Committee Chairman to the business communities and industries they oversee. 

Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform  wrote to 150 trade associations, companies and anti-worker think tanks asking them to identify which government regulations interfere with business.  As a result a number of National Right-To-Work bills were introduced amending both the National Labor Relations Act and the Railway Labor Act to repeal those provisions that permit union security clauses and provisions that permit payroll deduction of union dues.  

We now have a chance to restore balance to the House but we must ensure we are doing everything we can to help our friends win their races.  The following are some of the House candidates (in bold) we will be focusing some of our political organization and mobilization on: 

California:   incumbent Congresswoman Lois Capps (D) 
California District 41:   open seat Mark Takana (D)
Colorado:  incumbent Congressman Mike Coffman (R) v Joe Miklosi (D)
Florida:    incumbent Congressman Mario Diaz Balart (R)
Florida:    incumbent Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R)
Illinois:    open seat  former Congressman Bill Foster (D)
Illinois:     incumbent Republican Joe Walsh v Tammy Duckworth (D)
Maryland:   incumbent Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R) v  John Delaney (D)
Massachusetts:    incumbent Congressman John Tierney (D)
Nevada:     open seat    Dina Titus (D)
New Jersey:   incumbent Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R)
New York:  incumbent Congressman Tim Bishop (D)
New York:  incumbent Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D)
New York:  Congresswoman Nan Hayworth (R)  v  Sean Maloney (D)
Ohio:  incumbent Congressman Steve LaTourette (R)
Ohio:  incumbent Congresswoman Betty Sutton (D)
Minnesota:   incumbent Congressman Chip Craavack (R) v Democratic opponent
Virginia:  incumbent Congressman Gerald Connolly (D)
Washington:    Denny Heck (D)


Flight Attendant Fatigue:  Representative Mazie Hirono (D-HI) introduced the Airline First Responder Workplace Fairness Act, H.R. 3824 which would establish an Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), made up of aviation safety experts, aviation labor representatives and aviation industry stakeholders, to address the issue of Flight Attendant fatigue. The ARC would review current Flight Attendant duty and rest requirements; review the Flight Attendant fatigue studies conducted by the Civil Aero Medical Institute (CAMI); and other scientific data.  The bill has the bipartisan support of the following cosponsors:  Ed Pastor (D-AZ), Robert Brady (D-PA), Tim Bishop (D-NY) Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Susan Davis (D-CA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Adam Smith (D-WA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA) and Dave McKinley (R-WV). 

Employment Non-Discrimination:  The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would provide protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.  It affords all Americans basic employment protection from unjust prejudice and discrimination.  The legislation has been introduced in both the House (H.R. 1397) and the Senate (S. 811).
AFA has been part of a coalition of labor, business, human and civil rights, religious and community organizations that have been lobbying for passage of ENDA since legislation was introduced in 1993.  We will continue to work with ENDA coalition partners for passage of these long overdue workplace protections. 

Violence Against Women and Minorities:   Earlier this year, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed in the Senate 68-31.  This reauthorization expanded VAWA to include victims of international sex trafficking and protects all victims of domestic violence regardless of their age, gender, race, citizenship, faith or sexuality.  Unfortunately, the House passed a watered down version of the Senate bill that actually rolls back protections for victims of domestic violence.  AFA will continue to encourage members of Congress to finalize a comprehensive reauthorization of VAWA.  

Flight Attendant Security Training:   AFA continues to advocate for mandatory comprehensive Flight Attendant security training. 

US Call Centers:    The U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act would prevent companies that ship US jobs overseas from receiving taxpayer assistance in the form of federal grants, put protections in place for U.S. consumers to know where their calls are going and provide consumers the right to be transferred back to a more secure call center in the U.S.  The legislation introduced in the House by Representative Tim Bishop (D-NY) has 138 bi-partisan cosponsors.  Companion legislation has recently been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). 

Bankruptcy Reform:  Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Representative John Conyers (D-MI) have introduced legislation to curb abuses in corporate bankruptcies.  This legislation would provide vital and long overdue protections and fairness for employees and retirees by increasing workers' recoveries in bankruptcy and restricting executive compensation packages.

Other News From Capitol Hill

Campaign Finance Disclosure:  The Supreme Court's 2010 ruling in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission (Citizens United) allows corporations, unions and nonprofit groups to spend money directly on electoral politics. Since then, there has been a flood of secret campaign money distorting our electoral process. The Disclose Act, introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) would end the ability of the 1% to hide behind anonymous political attack ads by requiring all Super PACs to disclose their donors and investments.  Unfortunately the measure did not have the 60 votes necessary for the Senate to debate and vote on the legislation.  All Democrats supported the measure; all Republicans voted against. 

Bring Jobs Home Act:  As a result of a broken tax code, corporations receive a tax break when they ship operations and American jobs to other countries.  Legislation was introduced by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to abolish these tax deductions for outsourcing expenses incurred in relocating a business to outside of the United States.  The legislation would also create new tax incentives to reward companies for bringing jobs back to the United States.  Republicans chose to side with companies that ship jobs overseas instead of with American workers and companies that bring jobs back to the U.S.   Unfortunately, this legislation failed to reach the 60 votes needed for consideration in the Senate.  

Paycheck Fairness:  Senate Republicans voted to block consideration of The Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation that would give women better tools to combat unlawful pay discrimination.

Resignation of NLRB Member

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Member Terence Flynn announced his resignation from the Board to be effective July 24, 2012.  The NLRB's Inspector General found that Mr. Flynn disclosed deliberative and nonpublic information on pending cases and other pending NLRB actions to outside parties including to an advisor of Mitt Romney's campaign.

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