FedEx Issue Stalls FAA Bill

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When the Senate OK'd an FAA funding bill back in March, it looked like the agency would finally see an end to a long series of short-term extensions dating back to 2007, but now the bill remains stalled due to a dispute over union rules. The House version of the bill includes a provision that would change the status of some FedEx workers who are now regulated under the Railway Labor Act, which also covers airlines. The House bill would place those workers instead under the National Labor Relations Act, the same rules that govern UPS workers. The Senate version of the bill doesn't include this provision, and the two sides have been unable to reconcile their differences, resulting in a delay in completing the bill so it can go to the White House. The current FAA funding has now been extended to July 3 in the hope that the two sides can work things out by then.

The FedEx dispute seems unlikely to affect the main provisions of the bill, which was welcomed by GA advocacy groups since no new user fees are imposed. However, the bill won't be law until it's reconciled and a final version is signed by the president. FedEx has argued that the railway act, which makes it harder for workers to unionize or to go on strike, applies to its drivers and other workers since their job is to deliver packages to and from the company's airplanes. Supporters of the change, which include UPS and some union groups, say it would level the playing field.