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From the Desk of NATCA President Rich Santa

Over the next three editions of this column, President Santa will address one of the most critical challenges facing ATCs – staffing. This series will cover where we are, how we got here, and what we must do as a Union to find a solution.

As you know, our Union collaborates with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on staffing. This important step forward led to the Collaborative Resource Initiative (CRI). Under the CRI, NATCA and the FAA formed the Collaborative Resource Work Group (CRWG), which was tasked with reviewing, revising, and improving data-based operational models for staffing air traffic control facilities.

The original CRWG did an outstanding job, and in 2014, it released data it collected through surveying all air traffic control facilities that were critical to placing and transferring employees throughout the system. However, that was eight years ago.

Over that time, the airspace has evolved, and the demands placed upon ATCs throughout the system have increased along with the need for additional air traffic control specialists. It is also clear to NATCA that the FAA’s annual Controller Workforce Plan is flawed, and does not provide Congress, the public, and other stakeholders with an accurate representation of operational staffing needs.

It is for these reasons that through the CRWG, we have launched an initiative utilizing a new process to collect the necessary data we need to accurately develop CPC staffing target numbers.

The CRWG has already begun this process at four test facilities, with a goal of reviewing every facility before the end of the year. The data gathered from these surveys will help formulate the CPC staffing target number that will serve as the foundation on which the overall solution will be built. This process will address facilities that are at or near 100 percent staffing, yet still work 6-day workweeks, and facilities that are not receiving ERR’s or participating in releasing through the NCEPT.

However, the new staffing targets are just one piece of the puzzle. There is an ongoing demand for training at the facility level. We understand that it can be a challenge for members to take on the additional responsibility of an On-the-Job Training Instructor (OJTI). That is why we negotiated a temporary additional 10 percent premium for OJTIs, bringing the total additional compensation to 20 percent for our hard-working members who perform this important function.

The goal has always been to improve the working conditions and quality of life for every member of our Union. Working together, in solidarity, we will find a solution to these staffing challenges.

In the next edition, President Santa will discuss how NATCA will address the need to increase hiring and the associated funding to pay for additional staffing.

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