FAA Reauthorization

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

HR 915 – FAA Reauthorization Act of 2009

Passed by House on May 21, 2000 by vote of 277 - 136

Highlights:

Fair Contract Negotiations

  • Ensures that there is a fair way for air traffic controllers to resolve disputes that arise during the collective bargaining process.
  • If NATCA and the FAA arrive at a bargaining impasse, the proposals will go through mediation and ultimately binding arbitration: a time tested and fair process used for impartial dispute-resolution in workplaces throughout the country.
  • The bill nullifies the FAA’s unilaterally imposed work and pay rules and made whole the controllers that were negatively affected.  These rules were forced upon the air traffic control workforce in 2006, after the FAA neglected its obligation to bargain in good faith with NATCA.

Staffing Standards

  • The bill authorizes an unbiased, third-party-conducted scientific study of the air traffic controller staffing needs for today’s National Airspace System (NAS).
  • Such a study has not been done in over 10 years, and there have been significant changes to traffic patterns, technology, congestion, and actual air traffic controller staffing.
  • The FAA is currently using staffing ranges that are not based on any scientific data but are instead driven by the actual available staffing.  The FAA uses these spurious ranges to mislead stakeholders and conceal the staffing crisis. 
  • Understaffing of air traffic control facilities puts the NAS at risk.  This study will allow us to truly assess the current risk to the NAS and set benchmarks for its resolution.

Realignment

  • The bill ensured that all FAA realignment initiatives are considered in a collaborative environment and that stakeholders’ concerns are addressed.
    •It established a workgroup composed of stakeholders, including union representatives, which would analyze each realignment initiative and provide its recommendations to Congress.
    •Defines realignment as any action that relocates functions, services, or personnel positions; severs existing facility functions or services; or any combination thereof.  This means that the definition includes consolidations, collocations, facility splits, ESEP and the movement of positions/sectors in airspace redesign.

Modernization

  • The bill contains funding to provide for the implementation of high-priority safety-related systems.
  • It would also have enabled FAA to make much-needed repairs and replace deteriorating facilities and equipment.  According to a Department of Transportation Inspector General’s report, 59% of FAA facilities are beyond their 30-year design life.
     

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IN THE SENATE

S 1451 - FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act

Voted out of Committee on July 21, 2009

 

Highlights:

Section 313: Collective Bargaining – Title 49 exempts the FAA from many of the rules that affect the employee-employer relationship for the federal sector. It is this law that took us out of the GS pay system and required negotiations over pay. NATCA and the FAA disagree in how it is applied for dispute resolution of bargaining impasses; the FAA used it as a justification for unilaterally implementing work and pay rules on the multi-units in 2005 and then on the controller bargaining unit in 2006.  NATCA filed a lawsuit disputing the legality of that action. Meanwhile, both the House and Senate have now introduced legislation that would ensure an indisputable impasse-resolution process, so that we never again find ourselves in the situation that we have been in. When FAA Reauthorization is passed, the new system will be similar to what has worked to resolve bargaining impasses between the U.S. Postal Service and its employees’ Unions. It will require mediation by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and ultimately binding arbitration by a panel of three private arbitrators selected by the parties.

 

Section 321: Collaboration – This section provides an avenue for stakeholder involvement in FAA modernization projects. The Senate language ensures that NATCA will be able to meaningfully participate in the development of new technology and procedures in NextGen and beyond.

 

Section 301: Modernization Board – The Senate is working to establish a board of stakeholders which it calls the Air Traffic Control Modernization Oversight Board. This Board will review and provide advice on the Administration’s modernization programs, budget, cost-accounting systems, and the FAA’s strategic plan. It is the Commerce Committee’s intent that this board be able to make sure that NextGen is implemented in a safe, timely and cost-effective manner. As it is currently written, a seat is guaranteed to a labor group representing FAA employees. Following an amendment by Amy Klobuchar and Frank Lautenberg, labor has two seets on this board:  one for a representative of the employees responsible for the operation of the system (i.e. air traffic controllers) and one for a representative of the employees responsible for the maintenance of the system (i.e. technicians).

 

Section 308: ATC Facility Needs Assessment – This section grants the Modernization Board the authority to make recommendations on decisions regarding the realignment of facilities and services. Government Affairs Department and the NLC are working to insure that the FAA is prevented from moving forward on any realignment initiatives until the Board has an opportunity to issue its recommendations

 

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