National Air Traffic Controllers Association President John Carr
released the following statement concerning Wednesday evening's vote in the US House
of Representatives on a bill that, had it received a
2/3 majority of votes, would have nullified the FAA's imposition of
a new contract Monday, and called for a new round of arbitrated
talks between the FAA and NATCA.
That measure failed, by a vote of 271-148... but Carr (below,
right) chooses to focus on the positive here, thanking the 65
percent of house members who voted in support of the bill. It was
close... VERY close... and Carr clearly hasn't given up the fight
for getting a new contract.
However, it is questionable what avenues remain for NATCA...
"A clear majority of the U.S. House of Representatives has
voted in favor of fairness and air safety, and NATCA salutes the
distinguished Members of the House, led by Rep. Steve LaTourette,
R-Ohio, Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Ill., and Rep. Sue Kelly, R-N.Y.,
who have sent a clear message to the FAA: Get back to the
negotiating table to make a deal in the interests of taxpayers and
the flying public. Unfortunately, the FAA continues to ignore these
mounting calls, forcing us to continue this battle.
"Make no mistake: Yesterday's vote was a great achievement
and represents another step towards the much needed resolution of
this issue. Despite tremendous political pressure and an intense
misinformation campaign from the White House, the FAA and DOT, 271
members voted in favor of HR 5449 - 65 percent of all those members
voting. This undeniable sign of support will further energize
our legislative efforts as we pursue the numerous options still
available to us.
"Let us remember what is at stake
here. As Rep. LaTourette said last night, we are facing a
‘mass exodus of skilled air traffic controllers’ if the
FAA's contract is allowed to pass. This challenge is real --
financial disincentives in the FAA’s contract could cause one
in four, or about 4,000, veteran controllers to retire. This would
have a domino effect on everything from employee recruitment to
delays to safety across the US aviation system.
"As Rep. LaTourette also said, the fact that the FAA
attempted to impose the contract on the eve of the House vote on
the issue was a direct ‘snub’ to Congress. Now,
the FAA's refusal to even acknowledge that 65 percent of the House
voted to send the agency back to the table further confirms their
disregard for a fair and accountable process and reinforces the
need to change this process permanently.
"As long as the safety and integrity of the air traffic
control system is in danger, we will continue to pursue legislative
relief. We remain encouraged by the expressions of support from
both sides of the aisle and in both Houses and we are confident
that additional legislative avenues remain open. We're looking
forward to pursuing all remaining avenues aggressively."