...And If No Agreement Is Reached

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Blakey and Carr both pledged to take the high road during the talks, but it's the vantage point that creates the perception and while the two may be approaching a problem from opposite sides of the coin there may be more obstacles. "We don't think these negotiations need to be contentious," said Blakey. Carr said he was entering the negotiations "with an open mind and a very positive attitude." But the two sides have different ideas on what will happen if the talks fail to achieve a mutual agreement. According to the FAA's legal interpretation, if the two sides reach an impasse, it will be up to Congress to pass judgment on the deal. If Congress fails to come up with a solution, the FAA says it has the authority to impose its contract on the union. Carr disagrees and that particular disagreement is already before the courts. Carr said that on Sunday the FAA used those sections of law to impose an agreement on one of NATCA's bargaining units representing 1,900 mostly technical employees. He noted the impasse in those talks had been reached 18 months ago and it had been with Congress since then but the FAA chose the eve of the controllers' talks to flex its muscles. NATCA has started court action to dispute the validity of the FAA's actions and the legal basis for them.