This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) that would have preserved the ability of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees to form a union. Specifically, the underlying bill re-imposed a rule requiring that workers who did not vote at all in union elections would be counted as having voting against unionizing. This amendment would have removed that provision from the bill. The unionization rule reinstated by the underlying bill had been in place for more than 70 years until the Obama administration overturned the policy in 2009.
LaTourette urged support for his amendment: “…The president said he won't sign this bill unless this amendment is adopted. The Senate has declared this [anti-union provision] a nonstarter; and so if we want to give fancy speeches, and for those just tuning in around the country, welcome to whack the union night because this will be a fourth, fifth anti-union vote that has nothing to do with the aviation system.”
Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) also supported the amendment: “…It's very clear that the other body [the Senate] would not accept this amendment if the bill goes over to them with this in it. It's clear that the president of the United States would not accept this bill with the current language because he has already said he will veto it if it comes to his desk in this way….It's not about unions. It's not about increasing union representation. It's about fairness. It's about what's right for the American worker. That's all we're talking about in this particular amendment.”
Rep. John Mica (R-FL) opposed the amendment: “What's proposed [in the amendment] as fairness is really probably the height of unfairness. We've had 75 years of rule and law in which to organize. In the transportation sector, you had to have a majority of all of the individuals that worked there, all the people that would be potential members, and a majority of those folks would have to vote in the union, and I have no problem with union representation.”
LaTourette responded that the unionization policy reinstated by the bill was unjust, regardless of how long it had been in place: “You know, when the Constitution was framed, who could vote in this country? White guys who owned land. And if you asked them 75 years later, they may have said, Man, I can't believe they changed that. It's unbelievable. Or how about women? Another 100 years, women couldn't vote in this country. If you asked some guys today, they may say, The country really got screwed up when you gave women the right to vote. That is a non sequitur. It's a false argument, and the best proof is right here in this House of Representatives.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 206-220. All 190 Democrats present and 16 Republicans voted “yea.” 220 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have preserved the ability of FAA employees to form a union.