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Kansas City Controllers Call on FAA to Discipline Supervisor Who Was Arrested and Is Accused of Assaulting Controller at MCI - (8/2/2007)

CONTACT:     Kevin Peterson, Kansas City Tower NATCA facility representative, 816-294-5519

KANSAS CITY – Air traffic controllers at Kansas City International Airport (MCI) are calling on local Federal Aviation Administration management officials to end three weeks of silence on an incident involving an FAA supervisor accused of assaulting controller Richard Brinker at the facility. Controllers want the FAA to discipline the supervisor and conduct an investigation into what controllers say is a pattern of abusive and intimidating behavior toward them.

The incident happened on July 13 and the FAA supervisor was arrested and released on his own recognizance.

“We are alarmed and deeply concerned that an alleged incident of assault against a controller is not being taken seriously by local Kansas City FAA management,” said Kevin Peterson, NATCA’s facility representative at MCI. “While there is a criminal justice process to be followed, the FAA should move immediately to reassure its employees that their safety comes first and this FAA management official should not be allowed to continue to supervise these employees until the FAA investigates this and other alleged incidents and takes action to prevent any future confrontations.”

Added NATCA Central Regional Vice President Howard Blankenship: “Controllers are looking over their shoulder out of concern for their physical well-being. This situation is distracting to them. They cannot focus on their primary responsibilities if they have to be worried about defending themselves.”

NATCA Spokesman Doug Church said the alleged incident is disturbing because it reflects a growing problem of heightened tensions inside air traffic control facilities not only in the Kansas City area but nationwide, brought on by hostile FAA management actions toward employees, stressful conditions caused by an understaffed and overburdened FAA workforce and the lack of any true collective bargaining rights for controllers that has sunk morale to its lowest level since 1981.

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