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NATCA Accepts FAA's Public Offer to Return to Bargaining Table - (4/18/2006)

WASHINGTON – National Air Traffic Controllers Association President John Carr announced today that NATCA is accepting the Federal Aviation Administration’s public offer to return to the contract bargaining table.  Carr called upon the agency to rescind its declaration of impasse and bring to the new talks a renewed spirit of good faith bargaining and a desire to reach a voluntary agreement.

“We are anxious to return to the table immediately and we accept the FAA’s public offer to re-open the talks,” Carr said. “We have always been dedicated to good faith bargaining and a voluntary agreement and we still believe both good faith and an agreement are possible. We want to continue bargaining with the agency in hopes that both sides can find that elusive common ground.  The FAA wants a voluntary agreement and so do we.  The place to find that agreement is at the table, not in the Congress.”

Carr said he is confident that the agency will rescind the submission it sent to the Congress upon declaring an impasse on April 5.

“The talks are either ongoing or they’re at impasse. They cannot be both,” Carr said. “In order to proceed with the agency’s desire that talks reopen, both parties will need to retract their last best offers so that our negotiating teams can continue working on a voluntary agreement.”

The FAA’s official spokesperson was quoted in a published account on April 17 as saying, “We welcome the opportunity to go back to the bargaining table,” and expressed the FAA’s desire to see “movement on the fundamental issue of pay for new hires.”

“NATCA has shown significant movement at the table,” Carr said. “We proposed $1.4 billion in concessions, and we are still willing to get back to the table and work on our proposal and theirs, continuing to negotiate in good faith to secure a voluntary agreement.”

The FAA’s public offer comes after intense bipartisan pressure from Capitol Hill on the Agency to return to the bargaining table. Late last week, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, issued a press release calling on both sides to return to the table. Said Snowe: "I believe that the FAA moved too quickly in declaring an impasse in the ongoing negotiations with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and sending the matter to Congress. An impasse is not in the best interest of either party - politicizing the negotiations and putting the question of a reasonable settlement at risk. I believe they should instead come back to the negotiating table to find an equitable resolution.” 

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