Controller Shortage? PATCO Asks Court To Intervene In ATC Hiring

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Remember PATCO, the air traffic controllers union of the 1980s, whose members were fired en masse after a strike? The union, though long quiet, has not gone away, and last Friday went to court to try to get jobs back for some of its members. Four plaintiffs, along with the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO), filed a complaint in a federal court in Tennessee, asking that the FAA be stopped from hiring any new air traffic controllers until the FAA can show that it is not discriminating against former PATCO members who apply for openings. PATCO says that a ban on hiring the former controllers was lifted in 1993, but the FAA has avoided hiring them and has instead hired less-qualified applicants. The plaintiffs said they are not seeking any preferential hiring consideration, but they want a court order directing the FAA to accept all legitimate applications and base its hiring decisions on the relative qualifications and experience of the applicants as required by federal law. The four individuals are former journeyman FAA air traffic controllers who were terminated as a result of the 1981 strike.