Supporters Say Would Restore "Balance And Fairness" To
Those focusing on
Thursday's legislation to reauthorize funding for the FAA may want
to take a second look at the inclusion of provisions to strengthen
the agency's labor negotiation process.
The bill would strengthen the collective bargaining rights of
FAA employees, restoring what sponsors call "balance and fairness"
to the agency's labor negotiations process, reported Government
As ANN reported, the bill was
introduced May 3 by Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Trent Lott
(R-MS). A Senate aviation panel plans to address the bill on May
16. A hearing is scheduled for next week.
While the FAA commended lawmakers' work on the reauthorization,
the agency did not address the labor relations language.
With the FAA facing a surge of retirements in its air traffic
control workforce, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association
(NATCA), asserts it will be unable to recruit sufficient numbers of
replacement controllers unless it negotiates a new contract.
The reauthorization legislation would force the Federal
Mediation Conciliation Service (FMCS) to intercede if the FAA
failed to reach a collective bargaining agreement with its labor
And should the agency and union fail to reach an agreement
through FMCS, negotiations would be referred to an independent
three-member arbitration board, which, after hearing from both
sides, would determine the final terms.
The bill states: "The arbitration board shall take into
consideration the effect of its arbitration decisions on the
[FAA's] ability to attract and retain a qualified workforce and the
Although the FMCS currently assists in contract talks with the
FAA, it does not necessarily mean the two parties come to an
agreement, said NATCA spokesman Doug Church.
Binding arbitration, as the reauthorization bill would require,
he said, is necessary in negotiating a contract amenable to both
"That is to our liking, and that is what should happen in the
event of impasses in the future."
NATCA is still hopeful, however, that congressional intervention
will allow the union to return to talks with the FAA and reach
agreement on the contract imposed by the agency last year,
according to President Patrick Forrey.
"We are trying to work with the Commerce Committee to get back
to the contract negotiating table with the FAA and have fairness
restored to the collective bargaining process," Forrey said.