...NATCA Disagrees...

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NATCA spokesman Doug Church told AVweb on Tuesday that the FAA action amounts to "a grandiose publicity stunt." Four and a half months is not much time to spend on a such a big, complex contract, he said the last contract took over a year to negotiate -- and NATCA had already scheduled talks with the FAA well into February. "The administrator had an idea that we should be done by Christmas, but that was never part of this deal," he said. Blakey's action "exposes the true agenda of the FAA," Church said to derail the negotiations and send the contract to Congress. Once the talks are in mediation, either side can declare an impasse if progress stalls. "Then Congress has to act within 60 days on the proposals from each side which they won't and then, FAA can impose their 'last best offer,'" Church said. The existing contract has expired, but remains in force as long as talks continue.