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Congress: Fix FAA funding, don’t privatize our airways


(Feb. 5, 2016) — Unions are banding together to oppose the privatization of our airways. Led by the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS), a group of seven federal unions are calling on U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) to stop his efforts to privatize the Air Traffic Organization (ATO) workforce.

FAA-stop-privatizationConcerned users of these critical ATO services include workers in both commercial and private aviation, military, and homeland security. The federal employees are service providers: the 35,000 controllers, technicians, engineers and support personnel whose daily efforts keep aircraft moving safely through the nation’s skies and ensuring ground communication is in place for operations and emergency response as well. The ATO workforce is under attack.

TAKE A STAND — PASS urges the entire flying public to click here to contact Congress and say NO to HR 4441, which transfers public assets and workers to a private corporation and weakens the labor rights of the employees. Please insist that Congress fix Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding and NOT PRIVATIZE the FAA workers. The FAA should be exempt from sequestration.

The unions oppose any attempt to dismantle the FAA and say that doing so would interrupt the network of interrelated systems, equipment, and services that have allowed our national airspace to maintain the highest rating of aviation safety in the world. While HR 4441 is dressed with benefits like a new mother room in airports, it ultimately serves to weaken the labor protections and benefits of the employees being impacted.

The ATO workforce has demonstrated professional expertise time and time again. It was these workers who brought the world back up to speed after the horrors of the ground stoppage during the national tragedy of 9/11. It was their response that helped the system recover during the Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) sabotage/fire started by a non-federal employee, reassembled the pieces after hurricanes, earthquakes, windstorms, and many natural disasters.

Now these dedicated employees are having their government careers and benefits put up for grabs as Congressman Shuster tries to push them into the hands of aviation corporation leaders whose interests are not the same as the flying public or the masses of aviators.

Proponents of a privatized system target slow modernization efforts as one of the possible “fixes” of the new corporation. They claim that a private corporation would be able to address funding and other issues more effectively. The funding issue most certainly must be addressed, but that does not mean dismantling one of our country’s greatest assets.

Furthermore, modernization is happening. The employees of the FAA are making true progress and bring our aviation system in the future. The diligence and focus of these aviation professionals must be applauded, not disrupted by privatization and corporate models. There are certainly solutions to the funding issues that are more obtainable and achieved at less of a disruption than ripping away air traffic control from federal oversight.

Delta Airlines and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) also oppose privatization of the ATO. In addition, bipartisan letters from both Senate and House Appropriations Committee leaders have warned that any moves to privatize the system would not be well received. The majority of FAA unions, industry groups and many lawmakers are against the privatization effort; the flying public should be as well.

The employees of the FAA seek only to ensure the safety and efficiency of this country’s aviation system. We ask that the flying public and other labor groups stand with us against this damaging legislation. The critical work of the 35,000-plus employees involved in engineering, installation, maintenance, certification, operation, and support of the aviation systems, which are being used 24×7, is not something that should be disrupted in any way.

warner-monika-passMonika Warner is PASS WA3 Chapter President and Legislative Chair. For more information, see the statement of opposition to HR 4441 by PASS, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

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