Great News from the White House for NATCA

10:51 AM

There has been some great movements forward for our Air Traffic Controllers in their long battle with FAA to get a fair labor deal. Yesterday, three of my ATC friends/readers sent me the following from NATCA's Patrick Forrey, which I have chosen to publish verbatim:

Brothers and sisters,

I am proud and excited today to share the first bit of good news that has come from our determined efforts to convince the White House that our nearly 1,000-day struggle to end the FAA’s brutal trampling of our fair collective bargaining rights has been so detrimental to the workforce, the National Airspace System and the safety of the flying public that it must be addressed now and not put on hold until the arrival of a confirmed FAA administrator later this spring.

Today, the Obama Administration has made the announcement of the appointment of a team of mediators to immediately address our contract dispute with the agency. It’s a key first step toward the goal that we all share: An end to the FAA’s imposed work rules and unfair pay system and a fairly negotiated successor agreement to the 2003 CBA that all of you can ratify.

Here is what I issued as NATCA’s official statement to the press after the White House’s announcement:

“With this bold step, President Obama is fulfilling his commitment to the safety and modernization of the air traffic control system and to the dedicated men and women safety professionals who run the system each day. President Obama is showing the leadership that will guide a positive way forward in which aviation safety professionals will be included as valued stake holders. As the president made clear, a resolution to the dispute is critical to stabilizing the controller workforce, restoring a collaborative working relationship between controllers and the FAA and successfully installing the Next Generation Air Transportation System needed to spur economic development and increase the safety, efficiency and effectiveness of air travel.

“I would like to thank Secretary LaHood for his leadership and commitment to resolving this issue.”

Let me share a bit about how the past couple of weeks have played out here in Washington.

On April 16, I met with administration officials. It was a very positive meeting. The Obama Administration definitely understands what the Bush Administration did to the hard-working aviation safety professionals we represent. They understand the long, hard struggle that you all have faced to try and serve the flying public and maintain the safety of the system while being treated with such utter disrespect and unfairness. They understand how the FAA’s pay rules have forced new trainees to quit, led thousands of our most experienced controllers to retire early to escape the brutal treatment and lack of an increase to their retirement annuity, and removed any incentive to want to transfer to busier facilities, leaving many large TRACONS and other key facilities dangerously understaffed and overburdened with inexperienced trainees.

The administration made it clear that our contract issue was a high priority and were anxious to address it immediately, resolve the dispute and then move forward in a spirit of collaboration and renewed focus on problem solving and advancing system modernization efforts. The fact that this meeting took place on the 87th day of the new administration – within the well-known “First 100 Days” benchmark for evaluating the progress of a new president – speaks volumes about the dedication of OUR president and longtime champion of our cause for fairness, to NATCA’s most important issue.

Moving forward from this announcement, there are not many details to share. We have not yet ironed them out. But the administration wants it to come together quickly.

I know that you all must have a lot of questions right now and will be very hungry for any details when the negotiations begin. I certainly understand that desire to stay informed and I will do my very best to keep you as up to date as I can. But please understand the extremely sensitive nature of what is now finally transpiring.

There will be very few details that will be allowed to leave the negotiating table, for good reason. My main concern is that you all get a fair process and a ratifiable agreement. We will not be doing any press activity today or in the days to come beyond my brief, aforementioned statement. We will not be negotiating in the press.

We are being given an opportunity at a fair process to negotiate a ratifiable agreement. I respectfully ask that we all keep the tone of our comments and expectations at an even keel.

This is a great day, brothers and sisters. But it’s only the first day. The end of our long struggle is within sight but it’s still a few steps away. I ask you all to stay strong, stay united, and stay patient. The work you put into helping to elect leaders here in Washington who value your work, respect your commitment to the safety of the flying public and now are demanding your fair treatment is finally paying off. I hope to report back to you very soon with more good news.

In solidarity,
Pat Forrey
President NATCA
See, your vote DOES Matter. One White House snubs NATCA, while another vows to work with/for them. Maybe it's because the former occupant wasn't able to connect the right dots to see the importance in having well-paid, rested, experienced controllers pushing tin across our skies.

And for the new occupant, this issue is simply a no-brainer.

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