NATCA Rejects Latest FAA Offer

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The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) wants nothing to do with a quiet offer from FAA Acting Administrator Bobby Sturgell to raise the pay of some members and offer other incentives to "settle" ongoing labor strife. The proposed deal was outlined in a memo to FAA managers on Monday. The FAA has declined detailed comment on the offer but NATCA President Pat Forrey dismissed it as "a desperate attempt by the FAA to try and stem the alarming rate of controller retirements and total attrition" he says is directly attributable to the contract imposed on the controllers in 2006. He said that until controllers have a negotiated contract, the current exodus of senior controllers is expected to continue. Forrey also went over Sturgell's head to Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters last week with a letter that expressed the same sentiments. He also asked her to impose flight restrictions at some of the country's busiest airports if there's no hope of the government returning to the bargaining table. In the letter to Peters, Forrey says he expects at least 1,100 of the agency's most experienced controllers to head for the doors this year, many of them years before they must legally retire, because they don't like working for the FAA anymore. He asked Peters to call for a new round of contract negotiations in an effort to stem the flow of retirements. "Soon-to-retire controllers have told us that such negotiations might preclude their exodus," he said. Peters might not have much time to react. Today is apparently a financially advantageous day for many federal employees to cash in their accrued leave.