NATCA Sues Federal Government

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The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government alleging that NATCA members had been “unlawfully deprived […] of their earned wages without due process” as a result of the partial government shutdown that began on Dec. 22. A hearing has been scheduled for Monday in District Court in Washington. The suit also alleges that the federal government violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by a “failure to pay at least the minimum wage to air traffic controllers and other NATCA members” and “[failure] to promptly pay overtime.”

Controllers and other federal employees were due to receive their checks for the first pay period of 2019 on Friday, the day the lawsuit (PDF) was filed. NATCA has requested an expedited hearing (PDF), asking that its case be heard before funding for the United States Courts lapses on Jan. 18 and citing harm caused to its members who are excepted from furlough and currently working without pay. According to NATCA, it represents nearly 20,000 air traffic controllers, engineers, and other aviation safety-related professionals.

As previously reported on AVweb, NATCA and other aviation associations have been calling attention to the strain the shutdown has placed on the industry, pointing to issues such as disruptions to training and testing for aviation professionals, federal employees working without pay, and a lack of resources to investigate some aircraft accidents. On Thursday, a group of organizations including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Airlines for America, Commercial Drone Alliance, Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association and Helicopter Association International sent a letter (PDF) to the president and congressional leaders calling for a resolution to these and other shutdown-related issues facing the industry.

Comments (6)

Remember PATCO!

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | January 12, 2019 10:46 AM    Report this comment

These controllers will only work for so long without a paycheck, then they'll quit showing up for work. As they'll need to work elsewhere to get money to pay bills. And eat. Aviation will slowly grind to a halt. Some planes could fly that only go into uncontrolled airports and fly VFR. Not much else.

Posted by: Richard May | January 12, 2019 3:49 PM    Report this comment

The "shutdown" of the government IS "due process," as established by law.
We get the government that we deserve. Apparently, we're a very undeserving lot.

Posted by: YARS (Tom Yarsley) | January 12, 2019 3:57 PM    Report this comment

Interesting that the Union sues the government for wages of currently-working controllers, but refuses to represent the 165 controllers who were cheated out of the correct pay raises in ALL THREE YEARS of the 3-year distribution of $200 million in pay raises several years ago, caused by DELAYING our promotion to higher-level FAA facilities by 14 months because of the 14-month delay in contracting out our control towers at small airports, where I have reported to the Union that I have discovered by Freedom of Information Act request that if we had moved AS SCHEDULED we would have been given higher-percentage raises to BASE pay in ALL THREE YEARS of the 3-year distribution, which would not have cost the FAA any additional money, it would have only changed the distribution of the $200 million, only affecting the other 14,977 controllers in the country by, on average, $2.96 per paycheck after the third year of the distribution, depriving them of 3 or 4 candy bars every two weeks, and PREVENTING their ILLEGAL overpayments.

Posted by: Tracy Jenson | January 13, 2019 4:23 AM    Report this comment

Interesting that the Union will sue for wages for Air Traffic Controllers now working, but refuses to represent 165 Air Traffic Controllers who were cheated out of the correct pay raises in ALL THREE YEARS of the 3-year distribution of $200 million in pay raises, caused by delaying our promotion to higher-level FAA facilities by 14 months, because of the 14-month delay in contracting out our control towers at small airports, where the Union has been informed that I have discovered by Freedom of Information Act request that if we had moved AS SCHEDULED we would have been given higher-percentage raises to base pay in all three years of the 3-year distribution of the $200 million, which would not have cost the FAA any additional money, it would have only changed the distribution of the $200 million, only affecting the other 14,977 controllers in the country by, on average, $2.96 per paycheck after the third year of the distribution, depriving them of 3 or 4 candy bars every two weeks, and PREVENTING their ILLEGAL overpayments.

Posted by: Tracy Jenson | January 13, 2019 4:29 AM    Report this comment

If an aircraft operator were in a finantial situation which would limit their ability to pay wages, that situation would be seen as a threat to safety and a license suspension would be in order.
The Government is now seriously threatening public safety.

Posted by: Mauro Hernandez | January 14, 2019 11:46 AM    Report this comment

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