..."Highly Coordinated Media Assault," Says Union…

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The union said the FAA's PR effort is an indication of the agency's misplaced priorities. "This highly coordinated media assault is a disappointing indication of how much time and energy the FAA is prepared to expend in attacking air traffic controllers ..." NATCA President John Carr said in a release. "America's 14,500 air traffic controllers aren't interested in political fights and we don't like conducting negotiations in the press." However, last Wednesday, NATCA called a news teleconference with major U.S. mainstream and aviation media to criticize the FAA's bargaining stance. Martin said NATCA's media machine is well-oiled and the agency must do some PR of its own. Martin noted that NATCA is a "vocal and media-savvy union" and has hired high-profile media consultants, something not open to the FAA, but that the agency has resources of its own and will use them to get its message out. Carr said the FAA's campaign is aimed at justifying a contract that will lead to fewer controllers handling increasing traffic. He accuses the FAA of misleading the public by including benefit packages in the wage figures it's using to illustrate its often-repeated message that the current contract is too rich.