Originally Posted by Pat Forrey
Sisters and Brothers
Yesterday's hearing began promptly at 12 noon. The agency went first in presenting their arguments on pay, A3, A17, A24 and A106. Their presentation lasted just about the complete 2.5 hours they were allotted. The agency argued that a return to the Green Book pay system would be too costly in the short term, costing the government $3.1 billion over the next 3-years, and over $7 billion through 2016. Of course, there was no substantiation of these numbers. The FAA argued that they had offered a very generous package on compensation by addressing annual pay raises for controllers over the band maximums, a base pay increase next June to those employees who were in training at the time of the imposition, and in increase to the Agency's current pay bands over the next three years. Their proposal really didn't amount to much of a difference than what the Sturgell proposals were offering.
NATCA team members provided testimony on all of our issues and did a fantastic job during our 2.5 hours of the presentation. We argued for the reestablishment of the Green Book pay system, explaining how the system came about, what benefits it created for the Agency and the employees, and the disastrous effect the repudiation of that system has had on staffing, training, safety and the development of NextGen. I believe our team provided a very compelling argument that the pay system worked and that the FAA must agree since it continues to use the NATCA negotiated pay system for staff and management.
Each party had short time period for rebuttal; we pointed out the fact that the FAA utilizes examples of what employees earn at high level, high locality facilities to exploit high salaries among our most tenured veterans. They also only used CPC cost averaging to provide examples of future cost roll ups, because those are the highest paid employees. We focused on the flat-lining of the PC&B as the more new hires came into the Agency and veterans retired. We also reiterated that the implementation of NextGen on a fast track basis would be virtually impossible to accomplish if the membership determined that the award was unacceptable.
It is difficult to say how the arbitrator's reacted to this information; it's not the first time they heard it. Nonetheless, they did take copious notes and didn't ask many questions. I get the impression that they understand each of our proposals on pay and the work rules. I believe they find the pay rules as being complicated. I wouldn't be surprised if they come back to the parties with questions.
The panel has 30 days to render a decision on the issues presented. I do not get the impression that they will rule on one proposal or the other, although that may be how they deal with the four work rules. I think concerning pay they will attempt to fashion an award that may best be described as a compromise. We'll have to wait and see.
I have asked the mediators for permission to release the TAU'd articles along with our briefing guide and the process agreement/ground rules. As soon as we get the go ahead, this information will be placed on the NATCA web site for members only. My hope is that we get this done this week. As soon as a decision has been made by the arbitration panel, the process for implementing the agreement will commence; the panel has up to August 6th to make a decision.
First, the TAU'd articles will go for Agency Head revue. After that, we will send the TAU'd contract along with the issues decided in binding arbitration out to the membership for a ratification vote. During the ratification process the contract team will travel around the country answering questions on the TAU'd articles. We haven't set a schedule as to where those meetings will be held yet, but I would assume in locations around the country where the most members can attend.
All in all, the contract team represented this Union well throughout this entire process. I will continue to put the pressure on the administration through our contacts in the white house, Congress and AFL-CIO.