FAA Hiring Back Hundreds Of PATCO Controllers, Union Says
By Adrian Schofield/Aviation Daily
10/23/2006 09:06:02 AM
FAA in the past few months has begun hiring hundreds of former controllers who were fired more than 25 years ago by then-President Ronald Reagan.
Many of the former controllers are still represented by the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO), the union that locked horns with Reagan. Of the 500 remaining PATCO members, about half have received offers of employment from FAA recently, PATCO President Ron Taylor told The DAILY. Almost all of these controllers have not handled air traffic since 1981 and will have to requalify at the facility where they'll be working.
The PATCO controllers were originally fired after a long-running strike, and the newly hired controllers were organized under the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. The Clinton Administration authorized FAA to rehire the controllers fired by Reagan, but until recently only a handful was actually put on the payroll, Taylor said.
Almost all the PATCO controllers being rehired are over 60, because the current controller retirement age of 56 doesn't apply to them. PATCO will still proceed with its suit against FAA alleging age discrimination. The PATCO controllers will be represented by NATCA in collective bargaining with FAA, but they are not required to join the newer union. Taylor himself has received an offer of employment from FAA to control traffic at the same facility where he was the PATCO representative until 1981.
Separately, PATCO last week severed its ties with the larger AFL-CIO and OPEIU unions. In a letter to OPEIU, PATCO said its "goals, objectives, and future growth...are being suppressed by other unions within the AFL-CIO." PATCO accuses these other unions -- undoubtedly referring to NATCA -- of "laying claim to all non-union ATC facilities throughout the U.S."
PATCO and NATCA are both trying to recruit members in control towers at smaller airports that are run by private companies under contract to FAA. Taylor said PATCO is active in about 20 contract towers.
Anybody know why they are doing this? Does anybody have an idea what kind of impact this might have on us future new hires? Will this odd move push back the hire dates of those on the wait list?
[Edited 2006-10-24 20:54:28]