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Public Papers - 1989 - November

Message to the House of Representatives Returning Without Approval the Bill Establishing a Congressional Advisory Commission To Investigate Labor Disputes at Eastern Airlines


To the House of Representatives:

I am returning herewith without my approval H.R. 1231, a bill establishing a congressional advisory commission to investigate and make recommendations on pending labor disputes at Eastern Airlines.

The future of Eastern Airlines is currently the subject of reorganization under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. The bankruptcy court is charged with protecting the overall interests of the concerned parties in an evenhanded fashion. This state of affairs should not be disturbed by new legislation. I am particularly concerned that the investigation and recommendations of the commission proposed by H.R. 1231 would create the expectation of further intervention by the Congress that would significantly disrupt chances for an orderly reorganization by the bankruptcy court. This would hinder saving Eastern Airlines and the jobs of its employees.

The commission's mandate under this legislation to investigate three pending labor disputes, as well as certain broader aviation industry issues, is also unrealistic. The National Mediation Board spent over 500 days of sustained effort in an unsuccessful attempt to resolve the single dispute at Eastern that has reached impasse. H.R. 1231 would charge the commission with recommending settlements for three outstanding disputes at Eastern in a fraction of the time -- 45 days. Furthermore, involvement in the two ongoing labor disputes at Eastern that have not reached impasse violates our policy against governmental interference in the collective bargaining process. I see no justification for approving legislation that would mandate Government intervention in the cases of pilots and flight attendants.

For these reasons, I am compelled to disapprove H.R. 1231.

I also note that certain provisions of section 5 of the bill could be read to provide that executive branch resources must be deployed at the discretion of a congressional advisory commission. Such a reading of the bill would raise constitutional concerns.

George Bush

The White House,

November 21, 1989.

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
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