Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sen. Corker releases hold on bill affecting FedEx labor

WASHINGTON — Sen. Bob Corker on Wednesday dropped his hold on legislation to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Tennessee Republican had prevented Senate consideration of the bill because the House version of the legislation includes a provision that would change the legal status of workers at Memphis-based FedEx Corp., making it easier for employees to unionize.

Individual senators have the ability to block action on bills.

The full Senate began consideration of the legislation Wednesday afternoon. The Senate is expected to pass its bill sometime next week. A House-Senate conference committee will then have to work out the differences between the two bills.

RelatedCorker puts hold on bill that could affect FedEx

Corker spokeswoman Laura Lefler Herzog said, "It appears the controversial FedEx provision will not be included in the final Senate legislation."

Corker dropped his hold the same day his staff members met with the families of victims of an airplane crash outside Buffalo, N.Y., last year. The families were upset with Corker because the FAA reauthorization bill includes changes in airline safety they have sought in the wake of the crash.

All 49 passengers and crew were killed when Colgan Flight 3407 plunged into a home five miles short of the Buffalo Niagara Regional Airport on Feb. 12, 2009. One person on the ground also was killed. Federal investigators concluded that a lack of training, crew fatigue and distracted behavior that violated cockpit rules contributed to the crash.

The House version of the reauthorization bill would place FedEx workers under the same federal labor law that covers UPS employees represented by the Teamsters union. That law allows workers to vote locally to join unions rather than requiring a national election.

FedEx has about 275,000 employees.

Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander also has objected to the House FedEx provision. He said Tuesday he does not disclose when he puts a hold on a bill.

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