Lobbyist Asks FAA to Drop Drug, Alcohol Testing for Outsourced
Political lobbyist group, the Aeronautical Repair Station Association
(ARSA,) petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration to exempt its
contract employees from mandatory drug and alcohol testing. ARSA
represents non-airline employed maintenance workers in the United
States. The Federal Aviation Administration ruled that employees and
outsourced aircraft repair shops must undergo periodic drug and alcohol
ARSA argues that such testing is too expensive. To this, the union of
Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) filed a
friend-of-the-court (amicus curiae) brief supporting the Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) ruling. A hearing on ARSA's petition is
expected 28 March 2007 in the United Stats Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia.
For more than a decade the FAA testing program has been mandatory for
aircraft technicians directly employed by airlines. In January 2006 an
FAA ruling clarified the existing rule that each person who performs
aircraft maintenance or preventive maintenance, regardless of their
employer or location, is subject to mandatory drug and alcohol testing.
ARSA's petition admits that they want their members exempted from
testing because of its added expense, which makes outsourced repairs
less price-competitive with maintenance performed by airline employees.
"By trying to evade FAA-mandated drug and alcohol testing, ARSA is
placing the selfish financial interests of its members ahead of the
safety and security of the American flying public," said AMFA assistant
national director Steve MacFarlane. "In the post-9/11 era, this is
nothing short of irresponsible behavior."
Outsourcing (or contract) labor is a growing trend across all
industries in the United States mainly in attempt to reduce staff and
expenses to boost shareholder value on Wall Street. Such practice in
the airline industry "has grown rapidly and raises serious safety and
security concerns," contended AMFA.
Consumer Reports magazine took
up the issue for their March 2007 issue in which the magazine declares
outsourcing significantly raises airline safety concerns.
The article revealed that "much [outsourced] work is being done by
unlicensed mechanics," and "arrests at some [outsourced] repair shops
have snared terrorism suspects and undocumented workers [i.e., illegal
aliens] who were subsequently deported." Consumer Reports noted that
outsourced aircraft repair shops "are less subject to oversight than
in-house [the airlines' own] shops, with fewer screening programs and
fewer inspections, and that a Department of Transportation report found
that "the FAA never inspected approximately 1,400 non-certificated
repair facilities, including 104 foreign facilities."
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