You all know how much I hate flying. My roving reporter gig started with the 2010 CPAC convention, and it’s only gotten worse since. When I went to Wisconsin to cover the union rallies, my nuts froze. When I asked to cover the U.S. Open this year, someone forgot my luggage, booked me a cab that could double as a dump truck, and sent me to the wrong golf match.
So you might think I’m happy the Federal Aviation Administration shut down. If so, you would be wrong.
First, this roving reporter gig is a work-study program to cover my tuition while I finish my thesis in 21st Century Political Nuttitude. I’m not sure why I need a work-study program, as BPI does not charge tuition. I asked P. Porcine – the Earl of Swinesty and BPI’s Villain Emeritus – about that and he said it was “complicated.” Then he had to take a call from one of the five guys in New Jersistan who don’t know about each other and we want to keep it that way capice? I didn’t want to be called as a witness to that conversation, so I scurried out of his office.
Second, while I hate flying, I also realize that people have to fly for work. Some people also fly for fun, probably the same people who intentionally watch cable documentaries about the apocalypse. But I digress.
Anyway, I recognize that we need the FAA, so I got a bit grumpy when I read that Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said this:
You mentioned the FAA program with [White House Chief of Staff Bill] Daley. You know what’s holding up the FAA program? Is essential air services where the American people are paying a thousand dollar a ticket subsidy to people that are riding from airports with six passengers on a plane, when they could drive an hour and a half to get an airplane and we wouldn’t be paying the thousand dollars. So continued waste and duplication in the federal government, and they won’t approve the FAA because they continue to want to subsidize irresponsible and wasteful behavior.
You might think Sen. Coburn’s complaint is subsidies to maintain rural airports. If so, again, you would be wrong. House Republicans added that demand when Senate Democrats and President Obama rejected a statutory repeal of a ruling by the National Mediation Board.
Under the ruling, employees who don’t vote in a union organizing election are not counted, just like registered voters who don’t vote in a political election are not counted. Under the old rule, a union had to get “Yes” votes from more than 50% of eligible employees. If there were 999 eligible employees and the votes were 499 “Yes” and 1 “No,” the union would not be not certified because the 499 employees who did not vote would be counted as having voted “No.”
The Republican defense – really the Chamber of Commerce defense – is that certifying a union changes the status quo, and a change to the status quo should require a majority of eligible voters.
By that logic, Sen. John McCain should be President of the United States, as there was a Republican president as of November 2008. Electing a Democrat would have changed the status quo, and with approximately 208,323,000 Americans eligible to vote in that election that would require at least 104,161,501 votes. President Obama received only 69,456,897 votes … almost 10 million more than Sen. McCain, but far less than a majority of eligible voters. In fact, by the Republican-and-Chamber-of-Commerce logic, Sen. McCain would have swept all 50 states.
While I’m sure the Republican Party and the Chamber of Commerce would have applauded that outcome, I’m equally sure the American people would have been outraged.
And we should be just as outraged when a majority of employees who vote say “Yes” to a union, but the union is not certified because too many eligible employees did not vote. Counting a “did not vote” as a “No” vote gives the company the benefit of the doubt. Under the old rule, the company need not convince a majority of employees to reject a union; they need only convince a majority of employees not to vote at all. And companies have historically used every possible means – legal and otherwise – to suppress voting in union certification elections.
The good news, such as there is, is that airports are still operating. Air traffic control and other “critical services” are still functioning. So I could fly if BPI decides to send me somewhere.
But 4000 FAA employees have been furloughed without pay, which will hurt their families and an already weak economy. All to further break unions.
When Republicans campaign on “jobs,” remember: they only mean their own jobs.
Good day and good nuts.