This Week in NATCA/Labor History
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
THIS WEEK IN NATCA/ATC/AVIATION HISTORY:
January 30, 1987 — NATCA on Capitol Hill: NATCA Southern Regional Representative Dennis Delaney, New England Regional Representative Howie Barte, and National Coordinator John Thornton testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation. They urge Congress to restore immunity for controllers who report operational errors, which was eliminated by FAA Administrator Langhorne Bond in 1980.
They also urge Congress to release money in the Airport and Airway Trust Fund to hire more controllers and replace outdated equipment and software. Delaney, a controller at Pensacola Tower, testifies his facility has 40 percent fewer controllers than before the strike yet is handling just as much traffic. He notes that the number of supervisors and staff has remained constant since 1981.
February 2, 1987 — Eastern Region meeting: About 35 controllers from seven states meet near Baltimore-Washington International Airport to discuss organizing and union certification election strategy. Eastern Regional Representative Steve Bell chairs the five-hour session.
Former PATCO President John Leyden tells the group that controllers need an organization to speak for them on Capitol Hill. He says Congress wants to hear from the rank and file, not just managers.
February 2, 1989 — NATCA membership: Billings, Mont., Tower controller David C. Abbott becomes the union’s 6,859th member. For the first time since NATCA was certified 1½ years ago, union membership exceeds 50 percent of all controllers. Alaskan and New England regions far outpace all others in terms of percentage of members.
February 1, 1991 — Air safety issue: A USAir 737 landing at Los Angeles International Airport crashes into a Sky West Metroliner positioned on the runway awaiting takeoff clearance. The nighttime accident kills all twelve people aboard the commuter plane and twenty-two of the eighty-nine aboard the USAir flight. Among the victims is NATCA charter member Scott Gilliam of Los Angeles Center, who was returning home after a trip to the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, N.J. Gilliam leaves behind his wife, Connie, and two young children.
Two weeks later, the FAA amends procedures to prohibit controllers from authorizing planes to hold at runway/taxiway intersections at night or when the intersection is not visible from the tower. Subsequently, the NTSB attributes the accident to management deficiencies that resulted in the local controller issuing inappropriate clearances. Following the report, the FAA assigns more controllers to LAX and adjusts runway lights to prevent glare from obstructing the view from the tower cab.
February 2, 1994 — Contract towers: The FAA announces that 25 Level I VFR control towers will be contracted out per year in 1994, 1995 and 1996, plus several more in 1997. The agency has been contracting out towers since 1982. By the end of 1993, private firms were running 30 facilities.
Later in 1994, President Barry Krasner and the FAA signed a Memorandum of Understanding to implement the Direct Placement Program. DPP ensures that controllers at towers contracted out by the agency can transfer to the higher-density facility of their choice.
January 30, 2001 — NATCA contracts: The union signs two collective bargaining agreements with the FAA representing engineers/architects and traffic management coordinators.
THIS WEEK IN LABOR HISTORY:
1941: U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Wages and Hours (later Fair Labor Standards) Act banning child labor and establishing the 40-hour work week.
1968: The federal minimum wage increases to $1.60 per hour.
2002: Union and student pressure forces Harvard university to adopt new labor policies raising wages for lowest-paid workers.
2005: Five months after Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans school board fires every teacher in the district in what the United Teachers of New Orleans sees as an effort to break the union and privatize the school system.