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NATCA, PASS Tell Blakey: Wait for Court to Rule on Impasse - (3/25/2004)

WASHINGTON – The National Air Traffic Controllers Association and Professional Airways Systems Specialists have advised the Federal Aviation Administration against unilaterally imposing the agency’s contract proposals on 11 of NATCA’s non-controller bargaining units, warning that such action before a federal court determines whether the Federal Service Impasses Panel can resolve the current impasse “would reflect a disregard for due process of the law.”

“It is in everyone’s interest that these important legal issues governing collective bargaining between the parties be resolved in an appropriate forum in a timely and proper manner, and that the status quo be maintained in the interim,” wrote Bill Osborne, counsel for NATCA and PASS on the issue, in a letter to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey this week.

NATCA and PASS filed their lawsuit Jan. 30, asking the court to rule that the FSIP has the jurisdiction and authority to resolve the impasses. However, shortly after the suit was filed, the FAA, in the unions’ view, circumvented the law and the collective bargaining progress by taking the matter to Congress, “with the apparent intention to unilaterally impose those proposals in the affected NATCA bargaining units as early as March 30, 2004,” wrote Osborne. “We are advised that the agency is preparing a parallel submission to Congress covering the PASS bargaining units.”

The letter also informed Blakey that, “in our efforts to obtain a fair and timely resolution of this dispute, NATCA and PASS filed a motion for summary judgment on March 16, 2004. The defendants’ response is due, under Local Rules, before the end of March.”

Continued Osborne: “We send this letter to request that the FAA desist from any unilateral action with regard to its existing collective bargaining impasses with NATCA and PASS until the overriding legal issues are resolved by the court.”

Meanwhile, another member of Congress has written Blakey on the matter. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Ill., in a letter dated March 16, 2004, said, “As the matter is now the subject of pending litigation concerning a procedural matter of jurisdiction, the agency’s submission to Congress is premature. I ask the FAA to retract its submission and to await a resolution by the court of the underlying issue before involving Congress.”

###

Below, please find a copy of Osborne’s letter. A faxsimile version on letterhead is available. Please contact Doug Church (202.220.9802 or dchurch@natcadc.org)

To view a fact sheet on the contract impasse issue, please click here.
 

Osborne Law Offices

March 22, 2004

BY FACSIMILE
HAND DELIVERY

Marion Blakey, Administrator
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue, SW
Tenth Floor
Washington, D.C. 20591

RE: NATCA, et al, v. FSIP et al.,
Civil Action No. 1:04CV00138
(U.S. D.C. D.C.)

Dear Administrator Blakey:

This letter is sent to you on behalf of NATCA and PASS on the subject of the impasses in your collective bargaining with the Unions in the context of the above-referenced law suit.

As you know, on July 8, 2003, both NATCA and PASS enlisted the assistance of the FSIP to resolve collective bargaining impasses in their negotiations with the FAA. The Agency then objected, asserting that the FSIP lacked jurisdiction over the parties' collective bargaining.

On January 9, 2004, the FSIP declined to act on the Union's requests on the basis that its jurisdiction to do so was "unclear" but the Panel characterized its position as "without prejudice," and invited the parties to obtain a resolution of the question "in an appropriate forum."

Accordingly, on January 30, 2004 NATCA, and PASS filed the above-captioned suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking, among other things, a declaratory judgment confirming the FSIP's jurisdiction to resolve the FAA/NATCA and FAA/PASS collective bargaining impasses.

On the same date, the FAA delivered its final collective bargaining proposals in the FAA/NATCA negotiations to Congress with the apparent intention to unilaterally impose those proposals in the affected NATCA bargaining units as early as March 30, 2004. We are advised that the Agency is preparing a parallel submission to Congress covering the PASS bargaining units.

In our efforts to obtain a fair and timely resolution of this dispute, NATCA and PASS filed a motion for summary judgment on March 16, 2004. The Defendants' response is due, under Local Rules, before the end of March.

In view of the foregoing, we send this letter to request that the FAA desist from any unilateral action with regard to its existing collective bargaining impasses with NATCA and PASS until the overriding legal issues are resolved by the Court.

It is in everyone's interest that these important legal issues governing collective bargaining between the parties be resolved "in an appropriate forum" in a timely and proper manner, and that the status quo be maintained in the interim.

For any party to act before the Court has the opportunity to duly consider and resolve the legal issues would reflect a disregard for due process of the law. Such precipitous unilateral action would also unnecessarily risk an independent violation of CSRA Section 7116 (a) (5) for disregard of, or interference with, the FSIP's processes in the event the Panel's jurisdiction over these matters is sustained by the Court. This would be an unnecessary and unfortunate result given that there is no particular exigence in these matters because the collective bargaining impasses have existed for some seven (7) months.

We would appreciate a timely response to this request and an explanation of the Agency's intentions in these matters.

Sincerely

William W. Osborne, Jr.


Cc: John Carr
Tom Brantley
Michael Derby, Esquire
Marguerite Graf, Esquire


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