Controllers Applaud Obama Initiative

The air traffic controllers' union expressed optimism that a three-year breakdown in negotiations with the FAA could be on the way to resolution. Last week, the Obama administration announced plans to establish a mediation team to address a long-standing contract dispute between the FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), the controllers' union. In the three years since negotiations stalled between the union and the FAA, controllers have been working under non-negotiated work rules, according to the union. Controllers' representatives have complained that attrition and insufficient training rates have led to staffing shortages. Union President Patrick Forrey also maintains the lowering of overall experience level among controllers is compromising safety. He expressed optimism that the Obama plan could place negotiations on the fast track, and praised Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood for his efforts in establishing the mediation program.