Pryor Seeks to Restart Labor Negotiations, Improve Air Safety
Senator Mark Pryor introduced legislation to send the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) back to the bargaining table to improve safety in our skies.
Pryor said he is concerned current efforts by the FAA to dramatically reduce the number of air traffic controllers through lower pay and benefits could jeopardize the safety of air travel, and he introduced legislation, S.2763, to require the FAA Administrator to resume contract negotiations.
Pryor said the FAA-NATCA contract negotiations and mediation services failed after nine months, which allowed FAA Administrator Marion Blakey to declare an impasse and implement the terms of its final offer after 60 days. The FAA imposed a contract that cuts pay for air traffic controllers by as much as 30 percent and reduces pensions, a move which is expected to prompt more than 4,000 of the nation's 14,000 controller workforce to retire. The Senator added employees in Little Rock and Fort Smith are affected by the cuts.
"I've talked to the qualified, hard-working air controllers in Little Rock and Fort Smith. We need their expertise and watchful eye, and the thousands of others who keep our skies safe," Pryor said. "An exodus of air controllers as a result of the reduced pay and benefits will place a higher burden on those left behind, and that concerns me as a Senator, father and frequent passenger," Pryor said. "My legislation gives the FAA a second chance to preserve the strength and stability of our air traffic control system."
Pryor said he is concerned that the FAA is laying the groundwork to privatize and consolidate air traffic control towers by intentionally reducing staff. He is working to squash a rumored plan to move air traffic employers at Little Rock National to Memphis, and will be an active member in the upcoming 2007 FAA Reauthorization Act in order to protect those jobs and better ensure the safety of local airports. The reauthorization legislation provides long-term policy and funding initiatives for the nation's aviation system.