WASHINGTON_The Bush administration has won its battle to impose contract terms on air traffic controllers.
The House of Representatives voted 271-148 in favor of a bill to send the administration back to the bargaining table with the controllers' union. The bill failed, however, because the vote was short of the two-thirds majority required to pass it under House rules.
Union president John Carr said a clear bipartisan majority of the House wants contract negotiations reopened with the Federal Aviation Administration and the matter resolved.
"We hope the FAA has received that message," Carr said.
The administration imposed its own contract terms this week on the controllers, who are among 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.
Republican Rep. Steve LaTourette sponsored the bill that would have sent the two sides back to the table and eliminate the deadline.
The FAA says that controllers will earn under the new contract about $93,000 (€72,720) a year after five years on the job, 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.
On the Net:
Federal Aviation Administration: http://www.faa.gov
National Air Traffic Controllers Association: http://www.natca.org/