United MEC Government Affairs Committee Update

Date: May 29, 2013
Type: Report


Since the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced a decision to allow certain knives on to commercial aircraft, the Government Affairs Committee has been extremely busy. Our lobby efforts continue to build Congressional support and opposition to allowing knives on planes is growing.    

On April 23, implementation of the TSA's plan was delayed.  TSA says this delay is only temporary and although no new date has been given for implementation, we expect this unwarranted policy change to take effect soon.   TSA Administrator John Pistole has indicated that only an act of Congress will change his position on removing knives from the prohibited items list, so we are now focused on building cosponsors for our "No Knives" legislation. 

The entire nation is watching as we lead the national debate on aviation security and the outcome will have lasting implications for every issue we face.  We need to show that Flight Attendants will not back down.  Not now and not ever! 

In the Senate

Thanks to your advocacy and support, we now have a Senate bill!  On May 22, New York and New Jersey Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a bill to keep knives out of the aircraft cabin permanently. 

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) immediately cosponsored the bill making it nonpartisan legislation.  The bill, S. 1008, would prohibit the Secretary of Homeland Security from implementing proposed policy changes that would permit passengers to carry knives on aircraft. 

It is now time to call your two Senators and urge them to cosponsor the bipartisan Keep Knives Out of Our Skies Act, S. 1008.  The Senate bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation so you should ask to speak to the staff person who handles aviation issues.  

In the House

In March, Representatives Ed Markey (D-MA) and Michael Grimm (R-NY) introduced the No Knives Act, H.R. 1093, which would prohibit passengers from carrying onboard an aircraft any item that was on the Prohibited Items List as of March 1, 2013. 

If your U.S. Representative is not on the cosponsor list, please call their office and ask to speak to the staff person who handles Homeland Security issues.  Explain that you are calling about the bipartisan No Knives Act, H.R. 1093.  Urge your Representative to join in our efforts to permanently ban knives and ask that they cosponsor the legislation.  H.R. 1093 has been referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security, where it awaits further action. 

Ensure Your Members of Congress are on the Right Side of This Issue

When making your calls to your two Senators and your Representative you may be put through to voice mail so have your message prepared and make sure to leave a phone number and ask for a return call.  After your conversation or phone message, you should follow-up with an e-mail to the staffer.   As Congress has so many other issues they are working on, you will need to be persistent.  

If your Representative signed the Markey/Grimm letter to the TSA but has not cosponsored H.R. 1093, please remember to thank them for signing the letter. 

Markey/Grimm Letter to TSA

On May 22, a bipartisan group of 145 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) calling for the agency to drop its idea of allowing knives in the aircraft cabin.   This letter, authored by Representatives Ed Markey (D-MA) and Michael Grimm (R-NY) is the second Congressional letter to be sent to the TSA, admonishing the agency for their "dangerous, unnecessary and irresponsible" decision and urging the TSA to keep knives off the airplane permanently. 

No Knives Campaign Lights Up Times Square

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), the International Association of Machinists (IAM) and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) began running an ad in New York's Times Square calling on the public to join in our fight for a permanent ban on knives in the aircraft cabin.  The ad will run once an hour between mid-May and mid-July on the CBS TV billboard. 


In the same way that the National Mediation Board enforces the Railway Labor Act, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) enforces the National Labor Relations Act, the principle law safeguarding the majority of American workers.  The NLRB is supposed to have five members that are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. 

Last week, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions cleared all five nominees to the NLRB sending them to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.  Now, corporations have persuaded Republicans in the Senate to use silent filibusters to prevent a vote on President Obama's nominees. Republican leadership is urging a vote on only four nominees (two Democrats and two Republicans) to keep the NLRB deadlocked, preventing them from issuing any substantive decisions. 

AFA is joining with CWA in their efforts to bring an end to the dysfunction in Washington by urging a vote on all five NLRB nominees.  We need to make calls to our two U.S. Senators with the following phone script:   

"I am calling to urge the Senator to support confirmation of all 5 bipartisan nominees for the National Labor Relations Board.  Their confirmation is urgent so that workers can continue to have a voice and protections in the workplace.  If Republicans block their confirmation, the senator must support reforming the Senate rules to ensure their confirmation in order to ensure that we have functioning  labor law in this country."  Please support the Give Us 5 Campaign by making your calls today. 

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