Controllers' Dispute Delays FAA Funding Bill

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The Washington Post says Democrats' attempts to turn back the clock on the FAA's relationship with its air traffic controllers are behind the delay in getting the controversial FAA reauthorization bill introduced in the House of Representatives. The bill was expected to be in the House by late last week, but is now anticipated for introduction sometime in the coming week.

According to the Post, Democratic members of the House Transportation bill are trying to include language that would roll back the imposed deal on the controllers and force the administration to return to contract bargaining. As AVweb reported last week, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey has now confirmed that discussions are going on between the FAA and the union to try and resolve outstanding issues that would allow the bill to proceed. "It's one of those things that is a side discussion," she told the Post. "It's unfortunate it is coming into play on the reauthorization bill."

The package was imposed on the union last September after the FAA declared an impasse in contract negotiations. In addition to a two-tiered wage system, the deal included work rules that have rankled some union members. The Post's sources have said that the president will veto any bill that includes a return to contract negotiations. The current discussions center on more than 200,000 grievances filed by union members. "When you are talking about very significant amounts of money, that makes this a complicated challenge," Blakey told the Post. FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told AVweb that the talks are continuing.