...As Controllers And Blakey Keep Sparring

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By far the most costly item in the FAA budget is wages, and the determination to bring labor costs down is the FAA's clear stance as contract negotiations continue with controllers. Last week, Blakey revealed details of those negotiations, including controller demands for 5.6-percent wage increases and seven-hour work days. She added the agency's proposal for a two-tiered wage system, in which existing workers would not see any cuts but new controllers would be paid less. National Air Traffic Controllers Association President John Carr said, "We're not interested in discussing the specifics of negotiations in the press ... We're engaged in good faith negotiations and we're disappointed the FAA doesn't share that sentiment." NATCA spokesman Doug Church said the FAA is attempting to pit worker against worker by concentrating on the pay disparity between controllers and some other civil servants. Harold Shaitberger, president of the International Association of Firefighters, said he found the tactic offensive and simplistic. "It's clear to us that her efforts to use rhetoric to divide us are a remedial level union busting tactic," Shaitberger said in a statement. "And all that her comments to the media did was expose her weaknesses in an even basic understanding of public safety protocol." Transportation Workers Union President Michael O'Brien added that the use of "scarce federal resources to carry out an explicit anti-worker campaign, it is an affront to all working Americans and a grave threat to aviation safety."