Air traffic controllers nationwide ratified a new contract Sept. 23, following an intense — and often heated — three-year battle with FAA officials.
The new contract, which will cover the National Air Traffic Controllers Association’s air traffic controller, traffic management and NOTAM specialist bargaining units, is scheduled to take effect Oct. 1.
NATCA members voted on only a set of new work rules that both NATCA and the FAA agreed to at the negotiating table earlier this year. Other contract articles, including pay, were decided through a binding arbitration process that concluded. 13 and were not subject to union member ratification.
Said NATCA President Patrick Forrey: “Today, the members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association overwhelmingly approved a collective bargaining agreement with the FAA. It is a testament to our membership that they have endured the worst time in our union’s history, working towards and holding out for a contract that was negotiated in a fair process and agreed to by the parties. This would not have been possible without the support and commitment of the Obama Administration, key members of Congress and the AFL-CIO in providing a fair and transparent process. Now is the time to move forward and forge a working relationship that will stabilize the workforce, effectively train the large number of new hires and keep the current system safe and efficient while we transition to the Next Generation Air Transportation System.”
“From the very first day I came into this job, I made a commitment to the controllers that reaching a mutually acceptable agreement would be our top priority,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “The union’s ratification vote is great news and marks a new day between the controllers and the FAA.”
LaHood thanked Chairman Jane Garvey and mediators Rich Bloch and Dana Eischen for making the agreement possible. He also expressed appreciation to NATCA leaders who ran for office on a platform supporting the contract.
“We set out on this process in May with the goal to move definitively from the past to an agreement that we hope will start a new progressive relationship between the FAA and the controllers as we set about important work to transform the entire air traffic control system,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt added. “This gives us a great platform for moving forward on the next generation of air navigation, which will greatly benefit our nation and the traveling public.”
Both parties plan to sign the three-year agreement Sept. 25.