Bill aims to improve FAA labor negotiations process

Legislation introduced Thursday to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration and modernize the nation's air traffic control system includes provisions designed to bolster the agency's labor negotiations process.

The bill (S. 1300), introduced by Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Trent Lott, R-Miss., would strengthen the collective bargaining rights of FAA employees and restore what its sponsors call "balance and fairness" to the agency's labor negotiations process.

The move comes as the FAA faces a wave of retirements in its air traffic control workforce. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association claims the agency will be unable to recruit enough replacements unless it negotiates a new contract with controllers.

The union and the agency were unable to reach agreement on pay and benefits issues last year, resulting in an impasse and the forced implementation of the agency's final proposal.

The reauthorization legislation would force the Federal Mediation Conciliation Service to intervene if the FAA failed to reach a collective bargaining agreement with its respective labor unions.

Further, if the agency and union failed to reach an agreement through FMCS, the negotiations would be referred to an independent three-member arbitration board, which, after hearing the claims of both parties, would determine the final terms.

"The arbitration board shall take into consideration the effect of its arbitration decisions on the [FAA's] ability to attract and retain a qualified workforce and the [FAA's] budget," the bill states.

According to NATCA spokesman Doug Church, the FMCS already helps in contract talks with the FAA, but that does not necessarily mean the two parties come to an agreement. He said binding arbitration, as the reauthorization bill would require, is necessary in negotiating a contract amenable to both parties.

"That is to our liking, and that is what should happen in the event of impasses in the future," Church said. "We're glad to see that."

Nonetheless, NATCA President Patrick Forrey said the union still is hoping for congressional intervention that will allow the union to return to talks with the FAA, to reach agreement on the contract imposed by the agency last year.

"We are trying to work with the Commerce Committee to get back to the contract negotiating table with the FAA and have fairness restored to the collective bargaining process," Forrey said.

Meanwhile, the reauthorization bill also would allow $1.2 billion for the FAA to modernize the air traffic control system to meet an increasing demand for air transportation and need for airline safety and security.

"For years, we've understood that our nation's aviation system faced an impending crisis if we did not take action to modernize our air traffic control and update antiquated systems," Lott said.

In a statement, the FAA praised lawmakers' work on the reauthorization, but did not address the labor relations language.

A Senate aviation panel plans to mark up the bill on May 16. A hearing is scheduled for next week.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.