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NATCA, FAA Reach Tentative Deal on Two-Year Contract Extension - (1/7/2003)

CONTACT: Doug Church, 202.220.9802, (cell) 301.346.8245

WASHINGTON – The National Air Traffic Controllers Association announced today that it has reached a tentative deal on a two-year extension of its collective bargaining agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration.

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.”

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 system.

“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 working.”

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