Friday, June 23, 2006


Sue Kelly Flip-Flops on Labor Fairness - Part I

Sue Kelly has enough flip flops to supply a beach party.

This time, she was for labor fairness….. until she was against it.

Sue is on the House Aviation Subcommittee, so it made some sense when she offered a bi-partisan bill intended to level the playing field in contract negotiations between the FAA and the air traffic controller’s union, National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA). Until, that is, her Republican puppet-masters told her to back off. At which point, she did a smart about-face, and issued a stony “no comment.” Here’s the story; and follow closely because there will be a quiz:

The FAA announced in April that that it had reached an impasse in contract negotiations with the NATCA. By law, the FAA and the air traffic controllers had until Monday, June 5 to work it out, at which time, the FAA could simply impose its terms on the union, a heck of a good reason not to negotiate realistically with the controllers.

Now the Air Traffic Controllers would have liked to be able to arbitrate. And HR4755, the bipartisan bill offered by Sue Kelly and Jerry Costello (D-Ill), would have provided for binding arbitration in this situation. The bill initially had enough co-sponsors (265) to have easily passed the House. So far so good, right?

Wrong. First, the bill had to get out of Committee. Sue’s Committee. And the Republican majority wouldn’t let the bill out of Committee, even though a majority of the House had already signed up to co-sponsor the bill.

But a bill can be forced out of committee by a discharge petition from a majority of the House members, so with a majority already backing the bill, that shouldn’t be a problem, right?

Again, wrong. Jerry Costello’s name was first on the discharge petition to bring this bill to the floor, but Sue’s wasn’t second. Or third. Or fourth. In fact it just was not there. Sue was being a good down-the-line Republican: she didn't even support the discharge petition for her own bill. But of course that won’t stop her from touting her sponsorship of this bill when she talks to unions in the 19th CD. Her bill was been replaced by another, much weaker Republican bill (HR 5449), which merely requires the renewal of contract discussions – no binding arbitration. And that failed to pass the House.

So here’s the quiz.

Question 1: Did Sue sponsor this bill and then abandon it because:
a) She cared deeply about the rights of the air traffic controllers, until it became politically inconvenient?
b) She just changed her mind?
c) She didn’t mean it in the first place?
d) She was just following orders?
e) She got her boss’s instructions confused?
f) She is a shameless opportunistic panderer, concerned only about political gain?

Question 2: This episode shows that Sue Kelly can be relied upon to exercise independent judgment whenever:
a) Her right-wing bosses let her.
b) She receives equal campaign contributions from all sides of an issue.
c) It doesn’t make any difference to the outcome.
d) Never.

Question 3: 19th Century political power Simon Cameron, briefly Lincoln’s Secretary of War and then ambassador to Russia, famously said: “An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, stays bought.” Based on this definition, Sue Kelly’s equivocation on HR4755 tends to show that she is:
a) An honest politician?
b) A dishonest politician?
c) Neither
d) Both
e) Ready for retirement.

Answer key:

The only answer that matters is yours, on November 7, 2006, when you decide whether the 19th Congressional District gets a real voice for change.

I knew it was too good to be true. Sue Kelly finally takes a position on the side of workers and, lo and behold, succumbs to the wishes of her conservative Republican overlords in the House leadership and abandons those same workers.
Thanks to the Republicans in the house, and their lack of action on the behalf of Air traffic Controllers, my paycheck, every two weeks has been reduced by over $400.00.

Vote for change November 7th!
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