This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) that would have prohibited Federal Aviation Administration employees from using time spent at work for union-related activities. (The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has regulatory authority over all civil aviation in the United States.) This amendment was offered to legislation authorizing annual funding for the Federal Aviation Administration, and limiting the ability of federal aviation and railroad workers to form unions.
Gingrey urged support for his amendment: “I rise today to offer an amendment…that will increase efficiency in the FAA and uphold the integrity of taxpayer dollars….This amendment prohibits Federal employees of the FAA from using official taxpayer-sponsored time on these [union] activities. By offering this amendment, I intend to limit Federal activity during normal business hours to the people's work and not for constantly bargaining with one's employer, arbitrating grievances, or organizing and carrying out internal union activities. Labor organizations must participate in these actions outside of official time and without the use of taxpayers' hard-earned dollars.”
Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL) opposed the amendment: “The amendment unfairly singles out the FAA unionized employees from all other federal employees. Under federal law, an employee representing a union has a right to receive `official time' to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement and participate in impasse proceedings. In addition, the law permits an agency and a union to negotiate the availability of official time as long as the time is `reasonable, necessary, and in the public interest.'…the purpose of the official time is to give federal employees the opportunity to represent their colleagues on issues ranging from discrimination to managerial misconduct and to resolve disputes in a cooperative fashion at the lowest level rather than resorting to the costly litigation. The cost of arbitrating one case is estimated to be at least $10,000, and that does not include the salary and expenses for the time spent by the two attorneys the FAA uses on every case.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 195-227. Voting “yea” were 192 Republicans and 3 Democrats. 186 Democrats and 41 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have prohibited Federal Aviation Administration employees from using time spent at work for union-related activities.