Unions Want FAA to Make Up for Unnecessary Furloughs

The control tower stands in the background as a passenger paces while on the phone outside the international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson airport. The control tower stands in the background as a passenger paces while on the phone outside the international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson airport. David Goldman/AP

This story has been updated. 

Multiple unions representing employees at the Federal Aviation Administration are filing grievances with the agency, attempting to receive paid time off to make up  for unnecessary furloughs some employees were forced to take.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association -- which represents 20,000 members -- has filed a grievance because it claims FAA has not complied with regulations from the Office of Personnel Management.

“OPM has put out guidance that grants agencies discretion to provide excused absence to employees who served furlough days that were not required due to the furlough subsequently being cancelled,” a NATCA spokesman told Government Executive. “FAA has yet to exercise that discretion. Approximately half of NATCA's members served their furlough day in the first half of the pay period in which the furlough was cancelled.”

On the week of April 21, FAA began furloughing employees across the agency. Congress agreed on April 26, however, to shift funds around in FAA’s budget to ensure furloughs were no longer necessary.

The American Federation of Government Employees Local 200, which represents 360 FAA workers in Atlantic City, N.J., plans to file a grievance “for violating furlough memo of understanding,” according to a union steward.

 “So far the agency has not issued any type of guidance or a course [of] action [in] reference to the furlough,” said Dave King, the AFGE official.

King added his union is seeking administrative leave or excused absence with no loss of pay as compensation for the time employees were on furlough in non-pay status.

The lack of a response from FAA, King said, has put the union in a “holding pattern” with the agency, forcing the grievance. The complaint will go through several steps within the agency before it reaches an arbitrator. If either party then decides to appeal the arbitrator’s decision, the Federal Labor Relations Authority will issue a binding decision.

King said the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists -- which represents 11,000 FAA workers -- has filed a national grievance against FAA. A PASS spokeswoman did not respond in time for this publishing. 

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