Friday, February 29, 2008

FAA History Lesson -- February 29

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

”Feb 29, 1972: Following a nationwide election, the National Association of Air Traffic Specialists (NAATS) received Department of Labor certification as the national exclusive representative for all Flight Service Station specialists, some 3,000 employees. On Jun 1, 1972, FAA and NAATS concluded an agencywide collective bargaining agreement, the first such contract between FAA and a national labor organization and the first in a series of FAA/NAATS contracts.“

In case you weren’t paying attention these last few years, NAATS was a union that represented the Flight Service Specialists. FSS was contracted out to Lockheed Martin after a study done by a group called Grant Thornton said that some of the work they did could be contracted out.

In addition, you may remember that the vast majority of NAATS members lost their ATC retirement benefits when they were contracted out. It’s a complicated story but this pretty well sums it up:

” Breen — who was 44 years old and had 15 years of federal service when her job was outsourced — was six years short of being eligible for an air traffic controller’s pension of about $35,000 a year. If she doesn’t find a federal job before she retires, the best she can hope for is $3,000 a year. “

Ms. Breen was the president of NAATS.

In case you’ve forgotten, there’s an air traffic controller shortage -- a shortage that was plain to see coming -- less than 3 years after these folks lost their jobs. To put the icing on this crummy cake -- according to the latest survey at AVweb, 91% of the respondents have a negative impression of FSS run by Lockheed. Everyone who reads them knows that AVweb’s survey aren’t scientific. Still, when 28% of the respondents agree with the statement -- “It was much better when the FAA ran it, but I can still use it.” -- you’ve got to wonder about that “business is better” philosophy.

Don Brown
February 29, 2008

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