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Victory! Atlanta Local Defeats Airport Takeover Bill

Photo Credit: Getty / NNehring
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ATLANTA – AFSCME Georgia members stopped a harmful airport-takeover bill in its tracks.

The bill, which passed the state Senate, died in the House. The legislature adjourned last Thursday without the House considering the bill, which would have transferred control of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport from the city to the state. Many lawmakers in the Georgia House of Representatives thought that a complete takeover was going too far.

Members of AFSCME Local 1644 launched a fierce grassroots lobbying campaign that included calling and writing to legislators. Also, on March 26, after the Senate passed its version of the takeover bill, Local 1644 rallied at the state capital against Senate Bill 131 (SB 131), and helped halt the proposal in the House of Representatives. Pressure was put on House members to either kill the Senate bill or offer their own version.

 “This would be an unprecedented takeover that goes against local control and is a horrible bill for workers, and I want to thank workers for standing up to the state lawmakers,” Local 1644 President Tracey Thornhill said in a statement. “Though the State of Georgia’s attempt to take over Hartsfield- Jackson Atlanta International Airport failed this time, we must prepare for this ongoing fight as this is not the last time the state will come to ‘takeover’ the airport we built.”

Local 1644 members fought SB 131 since it was first heard in the Senate Transportation Committee. They understood the pitfalls of a state takeover and the creation of the Georgia Major Airport Authority, which would have been filled with members appointed by state legislators to oversee functions at Hartsfield-Jackson.

Supporters of the takeover cited past corruption issues, especially in the procurement and vendor-selection processes, as reasons why the state takeover was necessary. City leaders have fought this bill every step of the way. The administration has argued that Hartsfield-Jackson became the world’s most traveled airport under the city’s watch.