FAA tells air traffic controllers to stop complaining or quit

This deserves an entire reposting, been considering a full original story on the understaffing of Air Traffic Controllers, Mike Hall at the AFL-CIO WebBlog has done a nice job with this one

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is telling air traffic controllers who speak out about safety conditions to get another job.

Last week, Don Chapman from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) told reporters that newly implemented changes in air space rules around the Philadelphia area had controllers concerned about safety and the added pressure on already overworked air traffic controllers. Chapman, NATCA’s Philadelphia facility representative, also noted the changes had been made without any input from the controllers.

When Delaware County Daily Times asked the FAA for a comment, agency spokesman Jim Peters told the paper:

If any controller at the Philadelphia Airport believes that these procedures are unsafe, they should look for work elsewhere.…If they don’t like working for FAA, they should reconsider their line of work.

This arrogant and outrageous comment is from the same agency that is driving a record number of air traffic controllers into early retirement or out of the field because of the working conditions created by the FAA’s unilaterally imposition of new work rules. Those rules, issued in 2006 after the FAA refused to return to the bargaining table with NATCA for a new contract, exacerbated an already serious staffing shortage in the towers and on the radar scopes.

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), says the comments are an “outrage” and:

demonstrate once again that the FAA is a rogue agency. The idea that professionals who have concerns about safety should “find another line of work” is an outrage. Everywhere in our society—from the military to hospitals to mines to food processing facilities—responsible organizations emphasize safety first and reward professional employees who identify safety deficiencies.

Several years ago, when the FAA began to eliminate controller involvement in agency projects, NATCA President Patrick Forrey was tossed off the airspace redesign committee. He says the FAA’s comments are:

the height of arrogance from an out-of-control agency that is now trying to stifle whistleblowers, intimidate union members and discredit controllers’ commitment to safety.

We will not be silenced. We will not stand by and do nothing while the agency pushes safe, sensible and time-tested implementation procedures to the side in favor of an authoritarian, “my way or the highway” style. We will not allow our union leaders and members to be threatened or disciplined because they dared to speak up about legitimate and troubling safety concerns that the public needs to be aware of.
Also check out related links at UnionReview which highlight the ineffectiveness of the FAA, the second one makes me sick.

NY: Sen. Schumer on JFK jumbo jet near miss calls for new technology and more control tower staffing (12/11/07)

FAA breaks law, schedules a worker for his seventh day in a row, charges the Air Traffic Controller with an Operational Error (11/16/07)

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