Tough Times For Aviation Labor...

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NATCA vs. FAA

The contract negotiations between the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) and the FAA that started in July promise to be difficult and contentious -- the two sides were far apart going in, and dueling press releases already have been fierce and frequent. Now they are at odds over the schedule for the talks. NATCA last week rejected the FAA's request to meet five days a week and conclude negotiations before Christmas. The ending date is "arbitrary and artificial," said NATCA President John Carr, and would violate the ground rules agreed to by both sides. The FAA's proposal followed a complaint by NATCA on Sept. 8 that the FAA was setting a "slow pace" that was "disruptive and counterproductive." The FAA's deputy administrator for strategic labor-management relations, Joe Miniace, proposed the faster timetable for negotiations in a Sept. 15 letter to the union. "We want to move quickly because the taxpayer cannot afford this contract much longer," Miniace said. The existing contract, signed in 1998, was to have cost the FAA $200 million for the first three years, but the actual cost exceeded $1 billion, the FAA said. NATCA has said the FAA inflates controllers' salary figures by using standard federal benefits.