Impasse continues in FAA-union negotiations

Talks between the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the Federal Aviation Administration remain deadlocked despite a push from the union and a key senator to resume negotiations over a labor contract.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which oversees FAA, said last week that the agency moved too quickly in declaring an impasse and the two sides should come back to the table to find an equitable resolution.

In a letter to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, Snowe said the process that kicks in once an impasse is declared has not been tested by the court system and a negotiated settlement is truly in the best interest of all parties. That process allows FAA to send a final proposal to Congress, which then has 60 days to act before the agency is legally permitted to impose the offer's conditions.

FAA is proposing an offer that would create $1.9 billion in savings, while the union's final offer provides $1.4 billion.

Spokesman Geoff Basye said that while FAA respects lawmakers' opinions, endeavors to reach a voluntary agreement have been exhausted and the agency is following the process set out by Congress.

NATCA and FAA have been stuck in combative negotiations over benefits and wages since July 2005. FAA is in an unusual position because its labor unions are able to negotiate pay and its controllers are among the highest-paid federal government workers.

The air traffic controllers union declared Tuesday that it accepted the agency's public offer to return to the contract bargaining table after FAA spokesman Greg Martin was quoted on an aviation trade publication's Web site Monday stating FAA would welcome the opportunity to return to the bargaining table.

"We want to continue bargaining with the agency in hopes that both sides can find that elusive common ground," said John Carr, NATCA's president. "FAA wants a voluntary agreement and so do we. The place to find that agreement is at the table, not in the Congress."

But Basye said the aviation publication's story failed to represent the official position of the agency, and added that Carr is "grasping at straws."

Basye said that after nine months at the negotiating table, at a cost of $2.3 million, the air traffic controllers union has not shown a willingness to meet FAA in the middle.

NATCA spokesman Doug Church said conflicting statements from FAA spokesmen on whether the agency is willing to negotiate are another example of its inability to "keep its story straight from one day to the next."

Church said the union is campaigning for citizens to call their senators in support of legislation (S. 2201) that would prohibit FAA from implementing its final contract offer without congressional authorization.

An identical bill has been proposed in the House (H.R. 4755). If the bill clears both law-making bodies and is signed by President Bush by June 5, negotiations would go to binding arbitration should Congress fail to authorize FAA's offer.

Last week, the union unveiled a multimillion-dollar television advertising campaign to build support for the legislation.

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:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


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