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AFL-CIO Endorses Legislation to Ensure Fair FAA Bargaining - (2/28/2006)

SAN DIEGO – The AFL-CIO this week has endorsed legislation introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate that would restore fairness to the collective bargaining process and prevent the Federal Aviation Administration from unilaterally imposing a contract on its employees without the consent of Congress.

The AFL-CIO passed a resolution on Monday at its annual meeting supporting both S. 2201, the “FAA Fair Labor Management Dispute Resolution Act of 2006” introduced by Senators Barack Obama, D-Ill., Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and identical House legislation (H.R. 4755) which was introduced by Representatives Sue Kelly, R-N.Y., and Jerry Costello, D-Ill., with over 30 bipartisan cosponsors. Said the resolution: “Members of Congress have recognized that fairness and balance must be restored if we are serious about inspiring true bargaining. (They) understand that fair bargaining is in the best interest of a strong and safe aviation system. Despite the inflammatory rhetoric being heard in the halls of the FAA, these bills would only accomplish one thing: ensure fairness and accountability in the bargaining process.”

Despite NATCA’s best efforts to reach a negotiated settlement in the best interests of the agency, taxpayer and flying public, the FAA has increasingly attempted to stall negotiations. Last week, NATCA called for mediation in an attempt to reach a voluntary agreement, but the union remains extremely concerned at the FAA’s intentions. Both bills in question would stop the FAA from unilaterally imposing contracts by establishing a three-step process for resolving bargaining disputes: first, calling on the services of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service; second, giving Congress the option of resolving disputed portions of a contract; and third, if Congress takes no action within 60 days, submitting the bargaining dispute to binding arbitration.

Said the AFL-CIO’s resolution: “The FAA, instead of committing to a fair and balanced approach in negotiating new agreements with its workers, is intent on unilaterally imposing unfair terms and conditions on its workers. Apparently, the FAA fails to see the value of its own workers in carrying out the agency’s aviation safety mission. Rather than working collaboratively with the employees in a good faith effort to produce fair agreements, the FAA has embarked on a campaign to malign its workers and impose pay and working conditions outside the normal bargaining process.

“The AFL-CIO condemns the conduct of the FAA and urges the agency to stop this “scorched earth” approach to collective bargaining. When Congress gave the FAA the flexibility to institute personnel reform in 1996, it expected the agency to sit down and negotiate fair agreements with its employees. The agency’s plan to prematurely declare impasse to justify unilaterally imposing contracts on its workers is a clear indication of the FAA’s disdain for fairness and its own bargaining obligations. It has already imposed contracts on several bargaining units and is poised to continue the same strategy unless the FAA Administrator commits to a fair bargaining process or Congress intervenes with a fair legislative solution.”

The statement concluded: “The AFL-CIO endorses S. 2201 and H.R. 4755 and stands shoulder to shoulder with the FAA employees. We will continue to fight for a fair bargaining process for these dedicated workers. For federal employees, especially those who are entrusted with ensuring the safety of the flying public, the right to a fair process is not too much to ask. The Obama and Kelly-Costello legislation is a simple, reasonable remedy to a badly poisoned process that is unfair to workers and threatens aviation safety.”

To read the full text of the AFL-CIO’s resolution, please go to:

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