Pushing Tin

John Carr, the former president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association is another whose whistle-blowing cost him his job. He writes an absolutely riveting blog called The Main Bang. You don’t need to know a thing about air traffic control to like it.


It’s all about worker safety and passenger safety.  It’s all about Republicans gutting the air traffic controllers’ safety provisions.  It’s all about Dems fighting back.

It’s all about legislation that needs your support right now.  This week.

It’s all about Americans remaining safe in the air and on the ground.

It’s all about how the FAA has acted in bad faith, aided and abetted by the Rethugs.

Here.  Have a look. You’ll feel the need for speed (dialing your Congress member, that is.)

Lifted and crossposted from The Main Bang.  N.B. John – Please come on over here and cross post yourself! *g*

I love to listen to the opposition bleat about the current dispute between the FAA and America’s Air Traffic Controllers.  Every time they publish tripe like this they confirm my actions as President of NATCA last summer.  Yes, I know, it cost me my job as President of NATCA, but I would not back down.  I would not agree to a damn one of the FAA’s idiotic proposals.  I walked the plank for today’s generation of air traffic controllers as well as tomorrow’s.

While I led a team of honest negotiators with honor and integrity, the FAA Team, led by Marion Blakey, Joe Miniace and Rick Duscharme, lied, cheated, and negotiated in bad faith every step of the way.  They spent millions of taxpayer dollars besmirching the character and reputations of their own employees.  They fudged numbers.  They bullied their Republican Congressional pals.  They promised modernization in exchange for votes.  In fact, their actions were so egregiously wrong that a huge bi-partisan majority of the then-Republican House of Representatives told them to knock it off.  They ignored that guidance and imposed their reckless and immoral work and pay rules anyway.

Another group that recently gave me a huge pat on the back was the DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY IN THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS, who said,

“The Committee strongly believes that air traffic controllers were treated unfairly in 2006, when FAA broke off contract negotiations, refused to submit the remaining issues to arbitration, and imposed FAA’s own terms on pay and benefits. Many of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle agreed. When legislation to send the dispute to arbitration was brought to the Floor of the House in June 2006, the vote was 271 to 148 in favor; an overwhelming majority but eight votes short of the two-thirds needed under the special procedures under which the bill was considered. Moreover, the amendment offered to add section 601 was adopted by an overwhelming majority during Committee consideration of the bill. The vote was 53 to 16.

“Following the failed contract negotiations in April 2006, the FAA imposed its terms on the controllers, including a reduction of 30 percent in the pay bands, which define the maximum and minimum pay for controllers at a facility. These terms resulted in about 95 percent of the controllers having pay in excess of the maximum for their band. FAA’s proposal was that these controllers would have their pay frozen for five years and would not receive government-wide cost of living increases in their base pay. When inflation is considered, these controllers would be making about 16 percent less in 2011 than in 2006. In addition, there were other reductions in various forms of pay received by the controllers. It is clear that FAA’s unilateral imposition of wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment has had a harmful impact on the controller workforce, including major morale problems and an acceleration of retirements. Since the end of fiscal year 2006, veteran controllers have been retiring at the rate of more than three a day.

“The Committee believes that it is highly important that there be a fair resolution of the controllers’ concerns. The best technology in the world will not improve our air traffic control system if the workforce operating this technology is distracted by resentments over unfair treatment or if the system is dangerously understaffed due to accelerating retirements. The Committee does not want a repeat of the disaster of 1981, when rigid Administration policies led to morale problems which festered for years, culminating in a strike and the firing of most of the controller workforce. The Committee leadership devoted substantial time and energy to determine if a voluntary agreement could be reached for a new contract between FAA and the controllers. Several meetings were held with all of the parties and they have had extensive negotiations with each other. Regrettably, there are basic disagreements on principle that made it virtually impossible for there to be a voluntary agreement.

“The FAA seemed determined to begin negotiations for a new contract in 2011 at pay bands below those which were in effect in 2006. FAA apparently believes that controllers are overpaid on the basis of comparisons with military controllers, who have substantially less responsibility, and with other FAA employees who have important responsibilities, but do not have to make instant decisions, which if made incorrectly could cost hundreds of lives. The FAA’s attitudes are not surprising when we recall that, during the negotiations in 2005 to 2006, FAA undertook an extensive public relations campaign to convince the general public that controllers were overpaid. The Committee is not aware of any other instance in which a Federal Government agency has tried to stir up public resentment against its employees. The controllers, on the other hand, while willing to negotiate, could not agree to a package that would leave most controllers with lower salaries in 2011, after adjustment for inflation, than in 2006.  The controllers’ unwillingness to accept these reductions is strengthened by their belief that these reductions are unnecessary when the transition to a less experienced controller workforce over the next five years (mainly due to retirements) means that FAA could restore most of the pay cuts made in 2006, without increasing its total expense for controllers.

“Accordingly, the Committee believes that what is needed now is independent, third-party arbitration to resolve this dispute, as well as any disputes that may arise with other FAA bargaining units.”

Well, kids, it’s SHOWTIME!!!  The Bill that will get the FAA to walk the plank, HR2881, is coming up in the House of Representatives soon, and it is IMPERATIVE that you make your voices heard.

I know many of you are controllers, but not all 7,000 of you.  Many of you are spouses, pilots, interested travelers and the like.

I need you to click here immediately and take action to bring sanity back to the bargaining table.  I need you to let your congressional representatives know that you want HR2881 to pass, and you strongly support Section 601.

I promise you, the weasels at the Heritage Foundation are calling in their markers on Capitol Hill.  It’s time to call in yours, and let your feelings be known on this most important issue.  Follow the link, and let your voices be heard.  America’s Air Traffic Controllers are counting on you to restore fairness and integrity to the bargaining process.

We can fix our nation’s air traffic control system, but we need your help.  Click the link, and get involved!!!


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  1. And send your tips to John at The Main Bang.

    • tjb22 on September 19, 2007 at 19:42

    who is an air traffic controller.  Guy was a life long republican.  However, after they way they’ve been dealt with, he told my husband the other day that he would never vote for a republican again.

    • pfiore8 on September 19, 2007 at 19:44

    our Dems? the Dems now i mean?

    then i’m gonna bookmark and READ!

  2. Reagan’s big push against labor and unions started with the air controllers. Ironic that here we are again, maybe this time we make this the start of putting the teeth back into both labor and regulation.

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