Senate Looks At NATCA Bill

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Arkansas Democratic senator Mark Pryor has introduced a bill that would force the FAA to resume negotiations with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association toward a new contract. The FAA imposed a contract on the union in June under the terms of legislation that would have required congressional intervention to resolve the dispute. Under that law, Congress has 60 days to act after the agency declares talks "at impasse." The impasse was declared April 5 and a last-ditch attempt by House members to halt the process failed. However, the union thinks Pryor's bill has a good chance. "We believe we have overwhelming support on both sides of the aisle," NATCA representative James Keith told the Springdale Morning News. Pryor told the Morning News he's concerned about an exodus of experienced air traffic controllers as a result of the imposed contract. The union has maintained that thousands of controllers will retire rather than submit to the contract, which it says will pay them less if they keep working than if they retire immediately. "An exodus of air controllers as a result of the reduced pay and benefits will place a higher burden on those left behind," Pryor said.