Says Stipulation For Talks To Resume "Last Hope" For Saving
The nation's air traffic controller workforce rejoiced at the passage of the House FAA
Reauthorization bill, which -- if passed into law --
would provide a glimmer of hope for controllers working under an
FAA-imposed contract for over a year.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association tells ANN
Thursday's 267-151 vote approves sending NATCA and the FAA back to
the negotiating table to finish work on a contract, nearly 18
months after the FAA declared an impasse.
NATCA asserts since the current contract was imposed on
September 3, 2006, nearly 800 experienced controllers have retired
-- choosing to leave an employer that would never give them a raise
again for handling a rising, record number of aircraft, and scores
of new hires have quit due to low pay forced upon them that drove
many to the brink of financial ruin, including many military
controllers who tried but couldn't make it work with a drastic pay
cut from their Department of Defense salaries.
According to the latest FAA figures available, there are just
11,467 experienced controllers left in the country, according to
NATCA. That's an 11-year low and more than 1,100 fewer than were
working on 9/11, despite rising traffic volume that has sped by
pre-9/11 levels at many airports and radar facilities... and has
left Americans frustrated and angered by a record number of flight
"Today's vote gives us hope that we can get back to the table
and work out a voluntary, ratifiable agreement with the FAA and
stop the hemorrhaging of our workforce due to what the FAA's
imposed work rules have wrought," NATCA President Patrick Forrey
said. "A contract is the only way that veteran controllers will
stay on the job, keeping the system running while training new
hires to replace them. It is the only hope of preventing a further
degradation of the margin of safety and all-out gridlock with
worsening delays. You must have enough controllers to keep up with
rising traffic volume and so far, the FAA is barely keeping up with
the rate of attrition."
Forrey praised House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
Chairman James Oberstar, D-MN., Aviation Subcommittee Chairman
Jerry Costello, D-IL, and Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-OH, for their
support of the bill, and the measure to force both parties back to
the bargaining table.