A new settlement agreement from the US FAA arrived at the
union representing the nation’s air traffic controllers this morning, but it is
unlikely the labour situation between the two parties
will be resolved any time soon.
After reaching an impasse in negotiations in 2006, FAA’s
contract was imposed on the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA)
through a Congressional procedure.
Since then NATCA has been vocal in its unhappiness with the
contract. In the spring of 2007 FAA began negotiating a settlement, not a new
contract, with the union. In January of this year agency acting administrator
Robert Sturgell sent a letter to NATCA President
Patrick Forrey addressing pay rates, but at that time
Forrey was still pressing for a new contract.
During a Congressional hearing today examining training and
staffing at US
air traffic control facilities, the chief operating officer of the FAA Air
Traffic Organization Hank Krakowski said that the
agency forwarded another settlement offer to NATCA this week, with a NATCA
spokesman confirming to ATI the union
received it today.
Forrey during discussions at the
hearing noted that the settlement offer gave the union “nothing more” than was
given last time, “maybe a little extra”.
FAA is aware that “morale is a challenge” among air traffic controllers
in the US,
Earlier this week the DOT’s
inspector general released a review of air traffic controller training and
staffing levels that indicated work rules in the 2006 contract could be a
disincentive for veteran controllers to move to busier sites such as Los Angeles since the
base pay rates for those individuals could drop.
Krawkowksi points out that veteran controllers are being offered relocation
bonuses, with nearly 100 employees moving in the first two rounds of those
incentives. The agency has started the third and fourth rounds of those
In prepared testimony Krakowski
also says that FAA is offering retention bonuses for controllers eligible for
retirement that are typically 25% of an individual’s salary with a cap of
$25,000. The agency has awarded 44 of those bonuses, with 26 pending
Yet during the hearing inspector general Calvin Scovel said the top reason given by most of the experienced
controllers opting to vacate their positions was the contract situation.
In regards to potentially restarting contract talks between
the FAA and NATCA, House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Costello says
that until the White House and its office of management and budget take up the
issue “we will be in a holding pattern”.
While FAA attempts to keep veteran controllers in their
positions, IG’s next examination of air traffic
controller staffing will entail scrutinizing retention of controller in
Information supplied by the subcommittee states that FAA in
2007 reported that 60 of 1,185 controllers at its training academy failed to
complete the course, and 164 developmental controllers who graduated from the academy
and continued training at assigned facilities left the program.