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Controllers to Travelers: Support the Ones Who Guide You Home - (5/8/2006)

WASHINGTON – Hundreds of air traffic controllers nationwide, in a campaign that continues today, are taking their message of fairness in collective bargaining with the Federal Aviation Administration directly to the people who stand to feel the impact of a forced contract upon controllers the most – the American traveling public.

Controllers will be distributing a leaflet to travelers at dozens of airports – including New York LaGuardia and Washington National today – asking them to call 1-877-FAIR FAA and urge their member of Congress to join a growing number of lawmakers that have either supported bills to stop the FAA from unilaterally imposing a contract on controllers after June 5 or have asked FAA Administrator Marion Blakey to resume contract negotiations with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

House legislation (H.R. 4755), introduced by Rep. Sue Kelly, R-N.Y., and Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Ill., that would require binding arbitration for contract impasses between the FAA and its employees, now has 232 co-sponsors, including 59 Republicans. Nearly two-fifths of the Senate supports a companion bill on this issue.

Should Congress not act by June 5 and the FAA subsequently imposes its contract offer on controllers, it will mean a pay cut. By next year, that cut could compel one in four controllers – nearly 4,000 total – to retire upon reaching their eligibility date rather than continue to perform their critical jobs, exacerbating an already critical staffing shortage and likely leading to serious flight delays.

“Controllers take their responsibility to the flying public very seriously and we feel it’s vitally important that travelers are informed about the possible ramifications of this contract situation,” NATCA President John Carr said. “The FAA has a big staffing problem on its hands already; it’s more than 1,000 controllers short nationally from 2003 workforce totals. This new round of retirements would create safety and delay problems.”

Added Carr: “We want travelers to know that we are a dedicated, highly-skilled group of professionals that always puts their safety first. The public has the ability now to protect the future levels of safety and efficiency of the system by supporting us and conveying that support to their representatives in Congress.”


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