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Controllers Praise House Reauthorization Bill That Would Send Them Back to Contract Negotiating Table With FAA - (6/28/2007)

CONTACT:     Doug Church, 301-346-8245 

WASHINGTON – National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Patrick Forrey released the following statement today upon the markup of a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The bill includes language that would send NATCA and the FAA back to the negotiating table to finish work on a collective bargaining agreement; with binding arbitration waiting at the end of the fair process should the 15-month impasse not be broken by the parties.

“This bill is an important step toward putting fairness back into the collective bargaining process. The FAA unilaterally imposed work and pay rules on controllers last Labor Day weekend, exacerbating a critical staffing shortage that even the Department of Transportation Inspector General validated in a recent report. Morale has suffered, and the mass exodus has left controllers working for longer periods of time, causing fatigue and loss of focus, which the NTSB has said is a major safety concern.

“Veteran controllers are the professionals holding the system together, while at the same time, responsible for training the next generation of air traffic controllers. The FAA’s staffing to budget has resulted in the frantic hiring of new trainees who will require years to certify before contributing to the system. These veteran professionals must have an incentive to stick around past their retirement eligibility date – which many of them have circled on their calendars – and a ratifiable contract is exactly the incentive they are waiting for. This bill language is a means to that end and is critically important when you’re talking about the ability of the FAA to safely and efficiently keep the air traffic control system moving.

“NATCA would like to thank the members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for acting on behalf of the safety of the flying public. Speaking for the men and women who guide you home every day, I am indebted to Chairman James Oberstar (MN-8), Chairman Jerry Costello (IL-12), Congressman Steven LaTourette (OH-14) and Congressman Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2) for their unwavering commitment to keeping the National Airspace System the safest and most reliable in the world.”

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