I’m not sure whether people appreciate how big a deal this is going to be, but another major battle over union organizing is looming next month — and as Rick Perry would put it, the fight’s going to get “pretty ugly.”
I’m talking about the battle over the long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration, which was temporarily settled earlier this month but will certainly flare up again in September — with a GOP provision to make it harder to organize airline and railway workers at the center of the fight.
I’m told that the Communications Workers of America — the lead union in this battle — is ramping up a preemptive organizing push in the days and weeks ahead, a sign of how urgently labor wants to win this fight.
The new campaign includes the launch of a new Web site, MicaWatch.com, which will document the central role in this battle being played by the Republican chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Rep. John Mica of Florida. Mica took a ton of criticism during the previous standoff over reauthorization that temporarily shut down the FAA. Mica tried to get the FAA reauthorization bill to overturn a decision by the National Mediation Board to scrap a rule that had made it harder for airline and railway workers to organize by counting absentee worker votes as No votes.
The deal earlier this month temporarily settled the matter, but when the battle over long-term reauthorization rejoins in September, House Republicans are certain to renew their anti-union push. And so the CWA campaign will include appearances by airline workers at airports around the country, where they will try to educate the public about the fight. The new push will also include picketing in the districts of House Republicans who will be pressured to agree to a long-term FAA reauthorization without the union-busting provision.
But Democrats also matter in this fight, and this could be a major opportunity for them.
Until now, Congressional Dems have refused to cave to the GOP demand for the anti-union provision — even allowing an FAA shutdown rather than give in. But when this fight ramps up again, right when the Congressional debt “super-committee” talks get under way, the incentive will be strong for Dems to find a compromise. Labor, however, badly needs a high-profile win, and will be expecting Dems to hold firm. At a time when unions — unhappy with Democrats over the debt ceiling deal and the failure to create jobs — are mulling whether to channel more resources into state-level fights, a strong stance by Congressional Dems in the looming FAA fight could help reinvigorate organize labor’s faith in the national Democratic Party in advance of 2012.