FAA reauthorization should fly through in June, says lawmaker

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., predicted Wednesday that a multiyear FAA authorization bill will be signed into law by July 4.

"I think we've made enough progress and we ought to be able to get it done by then," he said. "We are working toward that goal. We'll get there, we'll do it."

House and Senate aides are informally meeting to clear out the underbrush in a bicameral deal, but discussions have not yet started on the contentious items. This includes House language making it easier for FedEx workers to unionize, which Oberstar strongly backs.

FedEx President Fred Smith recently said this dispute was holding up the conference talks.

"There is no delay; don't buy the Fred Smith garbage," Oberstar said.

He also accused Smith of having "bought his way" to securing federal affirmation in 1996 that employees at FedEx Express are correctly regulated under the Railroad Labor Act. "I'm being a little harsh on Mr. Smith, but he's been a little harsh on me," Oberstar said. He clarified, "He worked his way around the Senate very effectively and the Clinton White House as well."

Pro-labor Democrats and main FedEx rival UPS have argued that FedEx -- while initially an airline -- has become predominately a ground carrier and trucking operation subject to the National Labor Relations Act. The labor law allows employees to unionize in localized groups without the need for government mediation, while RLA requires unionization across nationwide classes of employees and a mandatory government-led mediation of contract disputes before a union can strike or an employer can replace an employee or impose terms of a contract.

When asked about Oberstar's comments, FedEx spokesman Maury Lane mainly took the high road.

"Chairman Oberstar could get a better understanding of Mr. Smith's concerns if he held a congressional hearing or took public input on the impact of this UPS bailout legislation," Lane said. "Until then, it would be fruitless to discuss much more on this issue, particularly since UPS has been trying to put itself under the RLA since its airline was created -- a fact Chairman Oberstar constantly ignores or fails to acknowledge."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.