FAA, NAATS Reach Severance Deal Re FSS

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While the future of the flight service station contract is anything but settled, employees who will lose their jobs in the eventual transformation of the system now know how they will be dealt with. The FAA and the National Association of Air Traffic Specialists have reached a reduction in force (RIF) agreement that the FAA calls a "generous compensation package" and the union calls "the least any terminated employee could ask." The deal gives displaced workers a week's pay for each of the first ten years of service and two weeks for every year beyond the tenth. It also gives them first crack at any FAA jobs that come open for which they are qualified for two years. As always, the devil is in the details and both sides got some significant concessions, according NAATS spokesman Mike Sheldon. Sheldon said the initial deal offered the employees would have knocked them off the priority hiring list if they had accepted or even been offered a job that paid as much or more as they made with the FAA. The catch, according to Sheldon, was that the clause applied even to short-term employment that will be offered to existing employees by contractor Lockheed Martin to keep the system running during the transition phase. Under the new deal, transition jobs are exempt from the priority hiring scheme. Sheldon said the FAA got a major concession when the union agreed that employees would get only two months' notice of their imminent departure. Once the notice is given, affected employees can take up to 32 hours per pay period to look for another job; an earlier notice period could have left the system desperately short-staffed during the busy summer season. Sheldon said the deal has no effect on the union's age-discrimination lawsuit against the FAA or protests filed to try to stop the contract process.