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WASHINGTON – In a letter sent to all the members of the U.S. Senate today, National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) President Rich Santa called on senators to vote in support of a bipartisan continuing resolution (CR) as a step toward avoiding a government shutdown.  

Government shutdowns negatively affect the National Airspace System (NAS) and the flying public, cause significant delays to critical safety programs, waste resources and taxpayer money, harm the economy, and take a significant toll on NATCA members and their families. The vast majority of NATCA members are required to work without pay throughout the duration of a shutdown, including mandatory overtime including six-day work weeks and 10-hour workdays, while other aviation safety professionals are furloughed. A shutdown would also suspend air traffic controller hiring and delay training, critical elements in the long-term solution to address staffing shortages.  

“I applaud the current effort to move forward with a bipartisan CR in the U.S. Senate, which also includes a short-term extension of the FAA’s authorization,” Santa wrote. “This would ensure the FAA and its dedicated workforce can continue to fulfill its vital mission.” 

The previous government shut down lasted 35 days,  from Dec. 2018 through Jan. 2019, and eroded the critical layers of safety necessary to support and maintain the NAS. Many of the safety activities that proactively reduce risk and increase the safety of the system were suspended during that shutdown. Ultimately, the NAS was less safe for months after the shutdown ended than before it began. We cannot let history repeat itself.  

“NATCA recognizes that additional negotiations will be required before full-year appropriations legislation and a long-term FAA reauthorization can receive bipartisan and bicameral support and be signed into law by the president,” Santa wrote. “In the absence of this, Congress must keep the government open, at minimum. Anything less would jeopardize ongoing efforts to improve the safety and efficiency of the NAS.” 


Galen Munroe, Deputy Director of Public Affairs; 202-220-9802, [email protected]. 

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) is a labor union and aviation safety organization in the United States that represents nearly 20,000 highly skilled air traffic controllers, engineers, and other aviation safety-related professionals. NATCA was certified in 1987 by the Federal Labor Relations Authority to be the exclusive bargaining representative for air traffic controllers employed by the Federal Aviation Administration. Today, NATCA is one of the strongest labor unions in the federal sector and represents a range of aviation safety professionals in 15 FAA bargaining units, five Department of Defense air traffic facilities, and 123 federal contract towers. These air traffic controllers and other aviation safety professionals make vital contributions to the U.S. economy and make modern life possible by coordinating the safe, orderly, and expeditious movement of one billion aviation passengers and millions of tons of freight within the National Airspace System each year. NATCA is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and is affiliated with the AFL-CIO. 

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