FAA Wins Contract Battle With Controllers

The Bush administration on Wednesday won its battle to impose its own contract terms on air traffic controllers.

The House voted 271-148 in favor of a bill to send the administration back to the bargaining table with the controllers' union. But the vote fell short of the two-thirds majority required to pass the measure under House rules.

Union president John Carr said a clear bipartisan majority of the House wants the contract negotiations with the Federal Aviation Administration reopened and resolved.

"We hope the FAA has received that message," Carr said.

Earlier this week the administration imposed its own contract terms on the controllers, who are some of the highest-paid government employees.

Negotiations had gone on between the FAA and the union for nine months before the agency declared impasse in April. Once talks break down, the law says the FAA can impose its last and best contract offer if Congress does not intercede within 60 days. The 60 days ended Monday.

Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio, sponsored the bill that would send the two sides back to the table and eliminate the deadline.

The FAA says that controllers will earn about $93,000 a year after five years on the job under the new contract, 30 percent less than they would make under the current contract.

The union, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, predicts a wave of controller retirements because take-home pay will decline under the new contract.

A Senate committee is considering a similar bill.


On the Net:

Federal Aviation Administration: http://www.faa.gov

National Air Traffic Controllers Association: http://www.natca.org/

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