FAA Personnel Reform
Throughout 1995 and 1996, NATCA successfully lobbied to have language included in the FAA’s bills that allows labor organizations at the FAA to negotiate for pay. The lobbying effort utilized many legislative vehicles, and along with NATCA’s negotiations efforts, resulted in air traffic controllers moving off the General System (GS) wage scale and on to the Air Traffic pay system contained in our contract. The resulting 1998 agreement included a new pay system based upon complexity and volume. That pay system with subsequent updates, remains in effect today.
Title 49 Fix
During the George W. Bush Administration, the FAA exploited language in Title 49 of the U.S. Code to impose work and pay rules on our members. NATCA worked tirelessly for seven years to have the language in Title 49 fixed. On February 14, 2012, President Obama signed HR658 – The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 – into law. HR658 requires independent, third party, binding arbitration on all labor contract impasses between the FAA and its labor organizations and ensures that NATCA members will never again have work and pay rules imposed upon them.
On March 31, 2011, during House debate on HR658, the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Representative Phil Gingrey (R-GA) introduced an amendment that would have prohibited FAA employees from engaging in union activities during the official workday. In other words, his amendment would have eliminated official time for all union representatives at the FAA. When the amendment came to a vote, it was soundly defeated 195-227. Nearly all Democrats and 41 Republicans voted against the amendment and in favor of keeping official time for NATCA and other unions at the FAA.
Per Diem at FAA Academy
From 2005 to 2007, the FAA unilaterally decided to stop paying newly hired air traffic controller trainees per diem during initial training at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City. The FAA’s decision created a significant financial hardship for many students. NATCA worked with then-Senator Lieberman (D-CT), who in turn worked with the FAA, to have per diem reinstated. As a result of that work, all newly hired air traffic controller students attending initial training at the FAA Academy receive per diem.
GI Bill Benefits
For many years, veterans within the FAA sought to use their GI Bill benefits in an apprenticeship form during ATC training. In 2006, the FAA ruled that receiving GI Bill benefits while in training to be an air traffic controller would constitute prohibited dual compensation and was henceforth illegal. NATCA began working with the Department of Labor and Veterans Affairs to have this ruling overturned. NATCA also involved two members of California’s congressional delegation to push for a change. In March 2008, as a result of these efforts, the Veterans Administration certified ATC training as an apprenticeship program and the FAA began recognizing our veterans at the Academy as eligible for GI Bill benefits. Our Brothers and Sisters who proudly served in the military are now able to take advantage of an earned benefit.
Federal Pay Freezes
From 2011 to 2013 pay for federal employees was frozen first by the Administration and then by an appropriations act. Several members of Congress inquired as to whether those freezes would also include air traffic controllers. Our negotiated contract provided for three percent annual increases for all bargaining unit employees during this period. NATCA worked closely with the Obama Administration and our allies on the Hill to ensure that our contract, the Red Book, would not be adversely affected.
Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013
In April of 2013, as a result of sequestration mandated budget cuts, the FAA began furloughing all FAA employees one day per pay period and proposed to shut down the Federal Contract Tower program. NATCA worked closely with several members of Congress to produce HR1765 – The Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013. This legislation was quickly passed by both chambers of Congress and signed into law by the President, ending the furloughs and halting plans to close contract towers. The successful passage of this legislation was recognized by the political publication, The Hill, as the fourth most successful lobbying effort of 2013. NATCA was also heavily involved in winning backpay for furloughed employees during the emergency shutdown furlough, which was ranked ninth.