Sat, Apr 29, 2006
Bill Would Force FAA Back To Bargaining Table
If you can't mediate... legislate. That seems to be the message
in the latest volley from the National Air Traffic Controllers
Association in its contract fight with the FAA.
On Friday, NATCA issued a statement in which the group reports a
majority of lawmakers in the US House of Representatives support a
bill that would stop the Federal Aviation Administration from
unilaterally imposing a contract on air traffic controllers on June
5. NATCA says that act would exacerbate a growing staffing crisis,
by encouraging controllers to take early retirement in lieu of less
NATCA claims support for the "Fair FAA" Act -- which the group
claims would usher in the return of a fair and accountable process
to collective bargaining -- has reached 229 co-sponsors, including
59 Republicans. Several lawmakers have also urged the FAA to return
to the bargaining table with the National Air Traffic Controllers
"Congress is hearing the voice of the American people on this
critical issue and their message is loud and clear: don’t let
the FAA fly in the face of fairness and safety in the skies," said
John Carr, President of NATCA. "It’s time the FAA stopped
playing political games and did what’s best for aviation
safety and the taxpayer. It’s time for the FAA to get back to
the bargaining table."
As Aero-News reported, NATCA
had also formally asked FAA Administrator Marion Blakey to reopen
talks -- an offer that Blakey sharply rebuked this
week, claiming NATCA has had plenty of opportunities
to reach a fair agreement with the FAA.
NATCA says the legislation currently under consideration by
Congress would create a three-step process to restore
accountability and fairness to the negotiating system:
- MEDIATION – If the FAA does not reach agreement with the
union, the parties will use the Federal Mediation and Conciliation
Service to try and make a deal.
- CONGRESSIONAL ACTION – If using FMCS does not result in
an agreement, the FAA can send its contract offer to Congress,
along with the union’s objections to the disputed portions of
the offer. The FAA could not implement the offer unless a bill is
enacted into law that specifically approves the offer.
- BINDING ARBITRATION – If a bill is not enacted within 60
days of Congress receiving the FAA’s offer, the agency and
the union must take their dispute to binding arbitration.
"The stakes could not be higher for
the safety and the integrity of the aviation system," said Carr.
"The FAA must back away from the precipice and commit itself to a
solution that safeguards safety and fairness. We’re committed
to a voluntary agreement -- that’s why our final offer would
have saved taxpayers $1.4 billion and cost the average air traffic
controller over $93,000 over the life of the contract."
The FAA’s negotiations with the NATCA were in progress
from July 2005 until April 5. Most articles in the talks were
agreed to in just nine months –- which NATCA claims as the
fastest progress in the FAA’s history of talks with its
employee unions -– both sides refused to budge on the issue
of controller pay, which led the FAA to declare an impasse in
talks earlier this month.
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