FSS Contract: The (Legal) Battle Begins…

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NAATS Files Age-Discrimination Suit

They've tried just about everything else and now the National Association of Air Traffic Specialists (NAATS) is taking a new tack to try and prevent the contracting out of flight service stations. NAATS claims the process constitutes age discrimination and filed suit today. The union is seeking a preliminary injunction to halt the contracting process (the winning bidder, Lockheed Martin, is already well into its pre-transition program) followed by a permanent injunction. NAATS director Mike Sheldon said the process could potentially leave almost 1,000 displaced workers without pensions, even though they are close to retirement age. "They will be without an annuity. They will be left with virtually nothing," he said. Under the Lockheed Martin plan, more than 1,000 of the existing 1,900 FSS workers will lose their jobs as the number of flight service stations is cut from 58 to 20 and the services are modernized. Those FSS staffers with tower or air traffic control experience will be able to apply for some of the hundreds of controller jobs that are opening up this year. Under normal circumstances, those applying for controller jobs must be younger than 31 so that when they hit the mandatory retirement age of 56 they'll have the 25 years required for a pension. Sheldon said the so-called Age 31 Waiver applies to a small minority of FSS staffers.