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Thu, Apr 20, 2006

NATCA Makes Nice, Agrees To Return to Negotiations With FAA

But Keep The Bucket Ready... Just In Case

After escalating its war of rhetoric with the FAA to levels unseen since the days of Kennedy and Khrushchev, on Tuesday the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, led by President John Carr, announced the union would accept the Federal Aviation Administration’s public offer to return to the bargaining table. Carr called upon the agency to rescind its declaration of impasse and bring to the new talks a renewed spirit of good faith bargaining and a desire to reach a voluntary agreement.

"We are anxious to return to the table immediately and we accept the FAA’s public offer to re-open the talks," Carr said. "We have always been dedicated to good faith bargaining and a voluntary agreement and we still believe both good faith and an agreement are possible. We want to continue bargaining with the agency in hopes that both sides can find that elusive common ground. The FAA wants a voluntary agreement and so do we. The place to find that agreement is at the table, not in the Congress."

Carr added he is confident that the agency will rescind the contract submission it sent to Congress upon declaring an impasse on April 5.

"The talks are either ongoing or they’re at impasse. They cannot be both," Carr said. "In order to proceed with the agency’s desire that talks reopen, both parties will need to retract their last best offers so that our negotiating teams can continue working on a voluntary agreement."

The FAA’s official spokesperson was quoted on April 17 as saying, "We welcome the opportunity to go back to the bargaining table," and expressed the FAA’s desire to see "movement on the fundamental issue of pay for new hires."

That's not an official declaration that the agency is prepared to return to the bargaining table, though... and at this writing, the FAA's website (above) still lists "FAA Submits "Best and Final" Contract Proposal" as its top news item.

NATCA appears to be positioning itself as eager to return to the bargaining table... although so far the FAA hasn't responded in kind... which might mean this latest "cooling off" period isn't as set in stone as NATCA may hope. Stay tuned -- it ain't over yet.

FMI: www.natca.org, www.faa.gov

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