WASHINGTON -- On issues ranging from minimum wage to workplace rights, labor unions often speak with one voice, but the fight within Congress over reauthorizing the U.S. Export-Import Bank has created a tricky split between airline pilots and manufacturing unions.
Democrats and some Republicans support Ex-Im, which provides loans and loan guarantees to foreign purchasers of U.S. exports. The bank's backers say it helps boost job creation.
Conservative critics, however, see the bank as an example of "crony capitalism" and a vehicle that the government uses to pick winners and losers in the private sector.
Without reauthorization, the bank, which helped finance an estimated $37.4 billion worth of U.S. exports in 2013, will have to stop lending when its charter expires on Sept. 30.
Supporters must allow some reforms that will win over moderate Republicans, said Michael Robbins, head of government affairs at the airline pilots' union. He said their proposal to limit financing for foreign airlines would level the playing field without hurting manufacturing jobs.
"I think those who say 'The status quo or nothing' are really the ones who are holding the bank hostage," Robbins said.
By Emily Stephenson | Reporting by Emily Stephenson | Editing by G Crosse, Caren Bohan and Grant McCool
Copyright Reuters, 2014