FAA Reauthorization Bill Passes with Union Restrictions Despite Objections from Labor Groups

Feb. 8, 2012 - Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate agreed to the conference report on a bill that provides a long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (HR 658). The FAA has experienced over 20 short-term reauthorizations since September 2007. A main sticking point centered on labor issues -- in particular, changes to the National Mediation Board that would make it more difficult for airline and railway workers to unionize.

On Feb. 3, the House agreed to the conference report by a vote of 248-169 while the Senate agreed on Feb. 6, by a vote of 75-20. The President is expected to sign the measure.

The measure was opposed by unions such as the Communications Workers of America, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The measure was supported by the Aerospace Industries Association, the Air Transport Association, and the Associated General Contractors of America. Air transportation unions were split on the issue: the Association of Professional Flight Attendants opposed the measure while the Air Line Pilots Association favored the bill overall, stating that although they "would have preferred that certain provisions unrelated to aviation safety had not been included, the compromise was necessary to set the stage for the passage of this extremely important funding bill."

U.S. Senate

  • Interest groups that oppose this bill (Building trades unions, Teachers unions, Manufacturing unions, Railroad unions, etc.) gave 2.2 times as much on average to Senators who voted 'NO' ($180,640) as they gave to Senators who voted 'YES' ($83,649).
  • Interest groups that support this bill (Public works, industrial & commercial construction, Builders associations, Aircraft manufacturers, Travel agents, etc.) gave 1.9 times as much on average to Senators who voted 'YES' ($134,065) as they gave to Senators who voted 'NO' ($71,362). 17 of the top 20 recipients of campaign contributions connected to interest groups that support this bill voted in favor of the measure.

U.S. House of Representatives

  • Interest groups that oppose this bill (Building trades unions, Teachers unions, Manufacturing unions, Railroad unions, etc.) gave 5.9 times as much on average to House members who voted 'NO' ($100,072) as they gave to House members who voted 'YES' ($16,915). 18 of the top 20 recipients of campaign contributions connected to interest groups that oppose this bill voted against the measure.
  • Interest groups that support this bill (Public works, industrial & commercial construction, Builders associations, Aircraft manufacturers, Travel agents, etc.) gave 1.5 times as much on average to House members who voted 'YES' ($33,973) as they gave to House members who voted 'NO' ($21,984).

METHODOLOGY: MapLight analysis of reported contributions to congressional campaigns of senators in office on day of vote, from interest groups invested in the vote according to MapLight, July 1, 2005 – June 30, 2011 and House members in office on day of vote, from interest groups invested in the vote according to MapLight, July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2011. Campaign contributions data source: OpenSecrets.org

About MapLight: MapLight is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that reveals money's influence on politics. If our work has been helpful to you, please consider supporting us.