834 National Association of Air Traffic Specialists (NAATS) employees have filed suit against the FAA to prevent it from transferring operational control of its flight service stations to Lockheed Martin on Oct. 1. The union has also filed for an injunction to stop the transfer until the court reaches a decision.
The FAA awarded Lockheed Martin a $1.9 billion, 10-year contract to oversee and staff 58 flight service stations across the continental United States and Puerto Rico. Lockheed plans to progressively phase out certain stations reducing the number from 58 to 20 during the next 12 to 18 months.
The suit filed by the union alleges age discrimination by the FAA. Specifically that the FAA has targeted the group for contracting out to relieve the FAA of its pension obligations to its employees. About 92% of the union’s employees are 40 or older.
Under the current federal traffic control system the controllers pay more into the retirement system than ordinary federal employees and have the option of retiring after 20 years if they are 50 years old, or after 25 years of service. The transfer allegedly would prevent the controllers from recovering some of the money paid into the pensions and also eliminate their paid retirement.
Lockheed Martin has offered jobs to the controllers but said it would unfeasable to continue the current pension program the government provides.