Getting it Done Ahead of Time
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association
announced Tuesday that it has reached a tentative deal on a
two-year extension of its collective bargaining agreement with the
The current five-year agreement, signed in 1998, is set to
expire in September. The new deal would extend NATCA's agreement
with the agency through September of 2005.
Calling it an "agreement in principle," reached after amicable
conversations with FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, NATCA President
John Carr expressed strong support for the deal and praised Blakey
for her commitment to ensuring the continued positive relationship
between the FAA and the union.
"With the enormous amount of work we are doing with the FAA on a
wide array of subjects, from modernizing the National Airspace
System, to redesigning the airspace to enhancing the safety of air
travel in the skies and on the runways and taxiways, it was vitally
important to us to resolve the issue of our collective bargaining
agreement as efficiently as possible," Carr said. "I’m
pleased to report Administrator Blakey felt the same way."
want to acknowledge a shared commitment between the FAA and NATCA
toward the agency’s fundamental mission to maintain and
enhance the safety and efficiency of America’s skies during a
critical time for the aviation industry," said FAA Administrator
Marion Blakey. "The skill and dedication our controllers bring each
day to the national airspace system greatly contributes to the
world’s safest skies."
She concluded, "This tentative agreement demonstrates a desire
by both parties to devote our energy and focus to our safety
mission, and to meet the needs of a new work force."
Carr said he and Blakey also agreed on the need for a new
staffing agreement to coincide with the extension. The current
agreement raised the maximum number of controllers working in the
system to 15,606, a number which NATCA and the General Accounting
Office believe will not adequately meet the future demands of the
"We will be working on a new staffing agreement as the new year
unfolds," Carr stated. "Staffing is one of our most pressing
concerns. Not only do we need more controllers, we need to hire
replacements for the 5,000 controllers the GAO says will be
eligible to retire within the next five years. It’s
critically important to the continued safety and efficiency of the
system that we have enough qualified and trained controllers