Tuesday's primaries put Sen. John Kerry on track to be this year's Democratic nominee for president, and that is fine with the folks at the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA). The union yesterday gave its enthusiastic support to Kerry, after he courted them with a promise that there would be no ATC privatization on his watch. "I have been disappointed with the Bush administration's systematic plans to diminish our air traffic control system," Kerry wrote to the controllers union. NATCA called Kerry "the candidate who will ensure that the safety of the flying public never takes a back seat to political ideology or special interests." Actually, both Kerry and NATCA had a lot to say.
Kerry criticized in detail the Bush administration's approach to the union, saying they have "squandered" the good will that existed between the FAA and air traffic controllers in the previous administration. "They have sought to privatize air traffic control services," he wrote. "They are currently seeking to slash the budget for modernization of air traffic control technologies. And they have taken a position of malign neglect toward the looming retirement crisis that will devastate staffing of air traffic control facilities throughout the country in the next few years. ... I can promise you that, under a Kerry administration, there will be no privatization of air traffic control." In a news release yesterday, NATCA President John Carr explained why he is so eager to support Kerry. "The Bush administration has tried to jeopardize the safety of our skies by pushing its own political agenda to contract out safety to the lowest bidder," Carr said. "Fortunately, brave Republicans and Democrats have fought to keep safety first, but the clock is ticking. Four more years of a Bush administration means four more years of putting a misguided political ideology over air safety. That's four more years our nation can't afford."