...Compromise Still Finds Fighting Words
"NATCA President John Carr has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory," said long-time NATCA adversary Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.). "He traded job-protection guarantees for 94 percent of our controllers in exchange for a letter from the administration restating the same thing that's been said for two years now." Mica, the aviation subcommittee chairman, called the bill's passage "a great win for the Bush administration and for our hard-hit aviation industry." He also chided Carr, suggesting NATCA's membership, on the whole, was better off with the original conference committee language and calling the campaign against the privatization language "a significant and costly failure" by Carr and the union leadership. Privatization wasn't the only contentious issue in the bill. Air cargo pilots are worried about losing jobs to cheaper foreign carriers as a result of the bill. In a letter to cargo pilots, Mike Armacuzi of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) Master Executive Council alleged that Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens slipped a "cabotage" clause in the reauthorization bill. Armacuzi said the clause will allow foreign airlines to pick up and deliver freight within the U.S. and could affect the domestic industry. "What do you think the affect [sic] would be on your quality of life and income if you were to compete with pilots from Air China or Air Somalia?" he asks in his letter. Besides the potential loss of jobs, Armacuzi said there are concerns about the security of foreign carriers and the potential deterioration of the U.S. cargo fleet, making it less able to respond to military needs through the Civil Reserve Air Fleet program. "Are we to rely on Air Indonesia and other foreign carriers to deliver war materials to our forces in Iraq?" he wondered.