Natca/FAA Dispute To Go to Mediation
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced late last week that the Obama Administration will appoint two mediators to resolve the long-simmering contract dispute between the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) and the FAA. LaHood tapped former FAA Administrator Jane Garvey to oversee negotiations aimed at resolving the acrimonious dispute between the union and the agency that began in the summer of 2006 when former FAA Administrator Marion Blakey unilaterally imposed pay and work rules after nine months of contract negotiations broke down. The Bush Administration argued this was legal under the 1996 FAA reauthorization act, which allows the agency to implement its final contract offer if it cannot reach agreement with the union on contract terms. Natca officials have contended that working conditions and pay are causing large numbers of veteran controllers to retire, and safety is being compromised because their replacements are inexperienced. Union president Patrick Forrey praised Obama for resuming negotiations.