FAA History Lesson -- July 3 (08)

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

”Jul 3, 1968: PATCO president Michael J. Rock announced "Operation Air Safety," which he described as a campaign among PATCO members to maintain FAA-prescribed separation standards between aircraft. Rock said that FAA supervisors were violating these standards to accommodate the high levels of traffic, but that thereafter PATCO-affiliated controllers would "go by the procedures in the manual." (See Jan, 1968, and Jul 19, 1968.) “

”Jan, 1968: A group of dissatisfied air traffic controllers in the New York area formed the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO). By the end of Jun 1968, PATCO had a national membership of well over 5,000 FAA employees. (See Jan 17, 1962, and Jul 3, 1968.) “

If you would like to see the “Jul 19, 1968” entry go here.

I might as well cover the Jan 17, 1962 entry while I’m at it. Just so you can see how little FAA management has changed.

”Jan 17, 1962: President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 10988, which guaranteed the right of Federal employees to join organizations--i.e., any lawful association, labor union, federation, council, or brotherhood "having as a primary purpose the improvement of working conditions among Federal employees"--and engage in collective bargaining. The order also made provision for Federal agencies to accord informal, formal or exclusive recognition to employee organizations. FAA Administrator Halaby argued unsuccessfully before Kennedy Administration councils that air traffic controllers, because they served a national defense function, should be excluded from the provisions of the order. (See Jan, 1968.) “

Now then, do you think the controllers of today are “dissatisfied” ? That would be an understatement -- you read the papers. How long do you think this situation can last before somebody does something stupid ?

In case you didn’t click on that newspaper article and in case I haven’t made my point...

Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the full Transportation Committee, excoriated the FAA for its handling of controller staffing.

"It's the same problem resurfacing all over again," he said. "I've been at this 25 years, and I'm exasperated with it."

The stories of exhaustion, low morale and increasing mistakes at air traffic facilities are repeating history, Oberstar said.

"This could be the script of 1981, this could be the script of 1985, this could be script of 1995," he said. "Yet this FAA wants to shove down your throat a contract that no one in the private sector would accept."

Ask yourself, what is being done about it all ? Are the FAA and NATCA in negotiations ? Is Congress doing anything (a small .pdf file) ? How about the Bush Administration ? (intentionally left blank)

Don Brown
July 3, 2008


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