Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told National Public Radio listeners Tuesday that the recent Federal Aviation Administration shutdown can be blamed on Delta Airlines’ opposition to new labor union rules.
Reid mistakenly said on NPR that Delta won’t give in to new rules that the National Labor Relations Board passed under the Obama administration. Those new rules make it easier for labor unions to organize workers.
Actually, the labor board that oversees airline workers’ unionization is the National Mediation Board. Reid’s error is leading some Big Labor critics to question his ability to fully understand union politics and policy.
Airline workers fall under the Railway Labor Act, a specialized labor law that applies to certain industries with multiple interdependent locations. Most workers in other industries fall under the National Labor Relations Act, which the NLRB oversees.
“The House has tried to make this a battle over essential air service,” Reid said on NPR’s “All Things Considered” program. “It’s not a battle over essential air service. It’s a battle over Delta Airlines, who refuses to allow votes under the new rules that have been passed by the NLRB.”
BigJournalism.com editor and radio talker Dana Loesch told The Daily Caller that if a conservative like Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann or former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — or one of their family members — made the gaffe Reid did, NPR and other mainstream media outlets would cover it thoroughly. With Reid, though, Loesch said it’s a different story. (RELATED: Democrats accuse Republicans of ‘hostage-taking’ in FAA shutdown)
“NPR made sure to cover every angle of Bristol Palin’s pregnancy, but can’t bring themselves to ask Reid why he’s shutting down parts of government to win subsidies for a couple of small airports — one of which lies in his state and services only a few hundred people at the cost of over $3k per passenger,” Loesch said in an email. “Instead, NPR allows Reid to incorrectly spin this into a union issue by misplacing blame from the NMB [National Mediation Board], while targeting a business at a time when we need jobs.”
Loesch isn’t the only one ripping Reid for his misstep. Labor policy critics question Reid’s ability to fully grasp the ever-expanding pro-union reach coming from agencies and boards in the Obama administration.
“We understand Sen. Reid’s confusion,” Fred Wszolek of the Workforce Fairness Institute told The Daily Caller. “We have a hard time keeping track of all the job-killing union boss paybacks too.”
U.S. Chamber of Commerce labor policy specialist Glenn Spencer said Reid also appears to have ignored the fact that Delta workers rejected unionization several times already.
“What Sen. Reid seems unaware of is that Delta’s workers have voted numerous times under the newly rigged election rules — and the unions have still lost every time, with margins as big as 70–30 against unionization,” Spencer said. “Whatever might be at play in the FAA bill, the fact is that when workers say ‘no’ the unions refuse to listen.”
Delta Airlines, along with a majority of its workers, opposes unionization. Even so, the Obama administration’s National Mediation Board has changed unionization election rules to make it easier for union bosses to organize the airline’s workers.
A spokesman for Reid did not immediately return TheDC’s request for comment on his boss’s flub. NPR did not correct Reid’s error, and it appears that the publicly funded radio network failed to notice it.
The FAA has been partially shut down since July 22. Four thousand workers are furloughed.