Budget Passage, Pay Raise & Update Regarding Parental Leave Expansion
Brothers and Sisters:
The flurry of activity in Washington, D.C., this week has left us in a much better position than one year ago at this time. Most notably, we have avoided another government shutdown.
The two spending bills, combining the 12 appropriations that fund federal departments and agencies – called minibuses – that the House and Senate passed, and the president has now signed, fund the government, including the Federal Aviation Administration, through Sept. 30, 2020, the end of the fiscal year. This result assures stable funding for the next nine months and allows the system to continue to recover from the 35-day shutdown with no additional barriers. We have argued for much of the past decade that the lack of a stable, predictable funding stream is the biggest challenge facing the National Airspace System. This ensures stable funding for the next nine months.
Additionally, the spending package includes a 3.1% pay increase effective the first pay period in January. The pay increase is broken into a 2.6% general increase and an average of 0.5% adjustment to locality rates. As soon as we have the complete details on the locality changes, which have to be issued by Executive Order, we will provide you with how the pay changes will affect your pay and the pay bands under each of our collective bargaining agreements.
However, there is one key piece of unfinished legislative business that awaits NATCA starting the moment Congress returns in January: ensuring our members receive 12 weeks of paid family leave.
Thank you to all of you who responded to our request this week to call and email Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to ask them not to oppose the fix to the loophole left by the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act. Despite your valiant efforts, language covering us did not make it into the appropriations bills because Senator Johnson and Leader McConnell objected to its inclusion. Certain political aspects of how the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act passed made amending it so quickly an impossible task.
FAA employees are one of eight workforces affected by the loophole. However, because the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act was intended to apply to all government employees, we are confident that Congress will work with NATCA to fix the loophole before the new leave benefit goes into effect on October 1, 2020.
NATCA remains committed to making sure our members are covered by this expansion of the federal government parental leave policy. We already are working with several senators from both sides of the political aisle and expect to see a bill introduced in January. Second, we have received assurances that the benefits of the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act will apply to us even without a legislative fix. That said, having the rights guaranteed in law remains our legislative priority.
As the legislative process moves forward, we will keep you updated and ask for you to participate in achieving our goal. Although fixing this loophole may prove difficult, we have faced challenges bigger than this before, including fixing the loophole in title 49 so that FAA can never impose work and pay rules on our members again. Through our collective effort, we will succeed.
Paul Rinaldi, NATCA President
Trish Gilbert, NATCA Executive Vice President