Tuesday, January 29, 2008

FAA History Lesson -- January 29

From the FAA Historical Chronology, 1926-1996...

”Jan 29, 1970: The Air Traffic Controller Career Committee (popularly known as the Corson Committee) submitted its report to Secretary of Transportation John Volpe.

The report's recommendations included:

*Reduce the overtime work required of controllers in high-density areas.

*Reduce the consecutive hours spent by controllers in operational positions to two, and the total hours per day on such positions to six.

*Detail qualified journeyman controllers to high-density facilities with critical manpower shortages.

*Develop a more mobile controller work force so that the needs of the system, rather than the preferences of controllers, determine assignments.

*Develop incentives to attract the most talented controllers to the most difficult positions.

*Pay special rates for employment in facilities located in high-cost-of-living areas.

*Accelerate and improve training of developmental controllers.

*Seek legislation providing for the early retirement of controllers who attain a certain age and cannot be retained or reassigned to less arduous duty--e.g., retirement at age 50 after 20 years of ATC service with 50 percent of high-three average salary.

*Designate a single official immediately responsible to the FAA Administrator to handle all relationships with employee organizations at the national level.

A number of the committee's recommendations, including detailing journeyman controllers to facilities with critical manpower shortages, and providing developmental controllers with "update" training, received immediate attention. In addition, FAA appointed a Director of Labor Relations on Mar 23, 1970. The agency established nine groups to consider the remaining recommendations and develop programs for their implementation. (See Aug 8, 1969, Mar 25-Apr 14, 1970, Nov 6, 1970, and May 16, 1972.) “

I could go on for days about this one. I could build an entirely new blog on just this report. If you’re fair and impartial about this subject (can’t say as I am) then right about now, you’d ask, “Is there any working controller out there that has downloaded and read this report ?” If not, why not ? Do you really think the FAA is going to solve this problem ? Do you really think that those with the power will surrender it without a fight ?

It’s dawning on some now. A Democratic administration might not have done what the Bush Administration has done. But once it’s done, they can think of a lot of reasons for not undoing it. Breaking up may be hard to do but giving up power is next to impossible for a politician -- no matter what party.

You might want to ask yourself why a Republican administration (Richard Nixon’s) commissioned this report. It’s simple. The system was threatened. It says so right in the report. (Note: It’s a scanned document -- with all the formatting problems that presents. I’ve attempted to make appropriate corrections.)

The Honorable John A. Volpe
Secretary Department of Transportation
Washington, D.C. 20590

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I transmit herewith the final report of the Air Traffic Controller Career Committee.

This report presents recommendations as to what needs be done with respect to (a) manning the air traffic system, (b) improving working conditions, (c) bettering the controller's career, and (d) improving employee-management relations. The recommendations are neither novel nor unexpected. They flow directly from the facts we have assembled and the analyses we present.

The need now is for action. The Committee's study, as you know, has received widespread attention among controllers and aviation organizations. A high level of expectation has been developed that the results of this study will be made generally available and that improvements will be effected. Hence, we recommend that you ensure the early and wide distribution of this report. Some recommendations that are presented, if they are accepted, can be implemented immediately. There is an especial need for expeditious consideration of those recommendations designed to resolve the employee management relations problems which threaten the system....

(Emphasis added)

You can bet your last nickel that when Richard Nixon signed the “Air Traffic Controllers Career Program Act” in 1972 that he didn’t do it out of a sense of benevolence. Richard Nixon wasn’t a benevolent kind of guy.

Don Brown
January 29, 2008

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