FAA Deal Puts Off Reckoning On Delta Labor, Other Issues After a two-week standoff, Congress and the Obama administration came up with a deal to reopen the Federal Aviation Administration and put thousands of people back to work. But the temporary solution does not resolve underlying issues — one of which is a union dispute involving Delta Air Lines.
NPR logo

FAA Deal Puts Off Reckoning On Labor, Other Issues

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/139014981/139014960" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
FAA Deal Puts Off Reckoning On Labor, Other Issues

FAA Deal Puts Off Reckoning On Labor, Other Issues

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/139014981/139014960" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

But as NPR's Brian Naylor reports, the underlying issues that have prevented agreement on a multi-year FAA bill remain unresolved.

BRIAN NAYLOR: The agreement was announced yesterday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who called it a bipartisan compromise between the House and the Senate. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told CNN last night he was happy the shutdown was about to end.

RAY LAHOOD: I'm thrilled for these hard-working people right in the middle of a construction season. They're going back to work Monday, and what they want to do: earn a good wage, take care of their families, and do construction jobs. And our FAA employees are going back to work too. I'm very, very happy.

NAYLOR: At its heart is a ruling by a rather obscure federal authority - the National Mediation Board. Last year the Board ruled that unions trying to organize airline employees would only need a majority of those voting in determining whether to unionize. That ruling reversed several decades of precedent, says Michael LeRoy, a professor of labor relations at the University of Illinois.

MICHAEL LEROY: Under the prior rule, which had been in existence for decades, it was necessary for a union to win a majority of all the employees in the defined bargaining unit. That meant that a nonvoter essentially voted no. That is how nonparticipation was counted.

NAYLOR: The major airlines are all unionized, all except for Delta, where flight attendants and ground crews have been unsuccessfully trying to organize for years, says LeRoy.

LEROY: This is just the next chapter in an ongoing story about the attempt by unions to organize Delta's workforce.

NAYLOR: Democrats in the Senate, led by Transportation Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, are fighting the Republican effort to overturn the new ruling.

JAY ROCKEFELLER: Delta wants to have this law changed so that it works for their advantage.

NAYLOR: Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.