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Carr to Miniace: “Let's Get Serious” - (9/20/2005)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – National Air Traffic Controllers Association President John Carr today proposed that both NATCA and Federal Aviation Administration contract negotiators agree to allow private arbitrators to settle any issues that the parties cannot reach agreement on independently and voluntarily.

“This might prove to be the most expeditious format for resolving any disputes because, as a voluntary agreement between the parties, the arbitrator’s decision would be binding upon us, with no potential for protracted legal proceedings,” Carr said.

In a letter to Joseph Miniace, the Federal Aviation Administration deputy assistant administrator for strategic labor management relations, Carr rejected Miniace’s calls for establishing an arbitrary and artificial ending date for negotiations as well as his other proposals as another example of the agency attempting to release itself from a signed agreement. This time, Carr said, Miniace’s proposals violate the parties’ ground rules agreement that was signed before the current negotiations began.

Carr called a letter from Miniace last week that outlined the agency’s proposals, “unique in its novelty; that is, a written offer to renege. Imagine my surprise. The FAA is famous for negotiating in good faith, signing purposeful agreements, and then running like hell from them. We were thinking perhaps the agency would try something new for a change. We call it, ‘living by your signed agreements.’ I encourage Miniace to at least become vaguely familiar with the ground rules agreement. We will be using it for the remainder of these negotiations.”

Carr also said he senses an effort by the agency to rush toward an “artificial and illegitimate impasse.”

“I am at a genuine loss to comprehend this false urgency on the part of the agency when it is an established legal precept that an impasse does not destroy the collective bargaining relationship,” Carr said. “I must presume that Miniace, as a seasoned labor relations professional, is as aware as I that an impasse is not the end of collective bargaining – rather, as a recurring feature in the bargaining process, impasse is only a temporary deadlock or hiatus in negotiations – and that he will enlighten others at the agency of the futility and folly of attempting to rush toward impasse.”

Carr concluded his letter to Miniace by stating that he believes a voluntary agreement is within reach. But, he added, “I think that private mediation/binding arbitration is the most efficient way to conclude any subjects on which the parties cannot reach resolution.”

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