NATCA Vows It's Not Over Yet
Despite last night's disappointment, NATCA President John Carr noted that "a clear bipartisan majority" of the U.S. representatives voted in favor of the union's position that the contract negotiations should be reopened. "We hope the FAA has received that message," Carr said in a statement sent to AVweb last night. "NATCA will continue to pursue a legislative solution to this critical problem. We remain encouraged by the expressions of support from both sides of the aisle and in both Houses and we are confident that additional legislative avenues remain open. We're looking forward to pursuing all remaining avenues aggressively." Meanwhile, the FAA will move forward to impose the contract as it stands. New hires for ATC jobs will face a 30-percent lower pay scale than current workers. The union's control over work rules and staffing levels will likely be substantially eroded. NATCA has been predicting mass retirements by weary workers who have nothing to gain by staying. "The FAA has been prepared for retirements in the work force long before these negotiations even started," said Basye. "We have a comprehensive workforce plan that will ensure all of our facilities are staffed in a manner that guarantees safety and ensures we have the level of controllers required to deal with the traffic in the system."