FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey has called for federal mediation to help reach a voluntary contract agreement with the air traffic controllers union. The FAA’s request comes after four-and-a-half months of negotiations. Officials at the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) say the request is a “publicity stunt.”
The FAA’s contract proposal maintains the base-pay of current controllers. Additional automatic pay increases would not continue, but controllers would be eligible for annual, merit-based pay increases. The FAA also proposes to bring in new hires at a “more realistic pay scale,” pegged to the civil service pay scale. “The hard facts are that the taxpayers and travelers cannot afford the union’s current proposal,” Blakey said. The union is not trying to negotiate a specific pay rate, but is seeking to maintain current practices, including the yearly automatic increases. It also blasted top FAA officials for handing out nearly $5 million in year-end management bonuses.
While Blakey had hoped to have a contract in place by Dec. 25, it looks doubtful as of press time.