Obama Acts, Controllers React

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The Obama administration Thursday announced that it will create a mediation team to immediately address the FAA/NATCA contract dispute and NATCA President Patrick Forrey was quick to respond with praise. Controllers have been dissatisfied with work conditions since contract negotiations broke down and the FAA imposed non-negotiated work rules on the union nearly three years ago. NATCA understood the president's comments and action to indicate that the administration's resolve to stabilize the controller workforce and restore a collaborative work environment is a top priority. Said Forrey, "With this bold step, President Obama is fulfilling his commitment to the safety and modernization of the air traffic control system and to the dedicated men and women safety professionals who run the system each day." Forrey added thanks to Transportation Secretary LaHood "for his leadership and commitment to resolving this issue."

For nearly three years NATCA has publicized its view that controller attrition and inadequate training rates have created staffing shortages and an experience deficit that leaves air traffic control in an unsafe and deteriorating condition. Forrey's latest comments suggest, at the very least, a shift toward optimism.