ATC Overtime; FAA & Controller Perspectives

By Robert Mark on February 18th, 2008

Never in my quietest moments did I imagine the conversation about FAA and its overtime policy was going to erupt into such a round of air rage of sorts. Luckily only a few of the hostile words were directed at me personally. But the passion of the respondents here cannot be ignored, nor the fact that the level of controller anger is rising.

TRACON_ControllerLast week I questioned why both the FAA and the GAO were publishing information that claimed controllers were volunteering for overtime at the same moment NATCA was on the Hill trying to convince Congress there are too few controllers and most are exhausted.

Thanks to all of you who chimed in.

We’re trying a bit of a point, counter-point today with input from FAA and a letter from a Denver controller that, for me at least, explains the controversy better than I or most of the experts.

First an update from FAA.

Laura Brown, FAA’s Deputy Asst. Administrator for Public Affairs offered comments that shed some light on how the agency sees this overtime issue.

The first question I asked Laura was in response to use of the term volunteer … “If controllers are volunteering, they’re volunteering,” I said. “But dozens of FAA people tell me that facility managers have added a mandatory meaning to the definition of the volunteer moniker.”

Brown: “Most of the air traffic facilities have “volunteer” lists because there are many controllers who actually want to work overtime. At some facilities, NATCA officials have encouraged their members not to volunteer for overtime.

Here’s what makes this complicated: when a manager schedules overtime and takes someone from the volunteer list, and they are now scheduled to work the overtime, is that mandatory or voluntary, since it’s scheduled? Union officials would argue that’s mandatory, since it’s scheduled. We’d argue that the controller volunteered to work, so it’s voluntary.

“Also, if they use up up everyone on the volunteer list and schedule someone who has not volunteered, but the opportunity exists to swap schedules, is that mandatory? It comes down to perspective and the perspective in some facilities is much different than in others.”

Jetwhine: “People tell me they have communicated very clearly to their managers that they absolutely do NOT want OT. But, if they answer their phone on their day off they’re stuck. Would that be correct?

So does the agency have the right to call someone on the Do Not Call list and tell them they must work? And if the OT is scheduled by the manager, even for people who have said they don’t want it, I’m having trouble understanding how that can be anything like voluntary.
But maybe I’m missing something.”

Brown: “There is no such thing as a Do Not Call list. When controllers are hired, it’s clear that they may be asked to work overtime, whether or not they want to. The situation you described would be mandatory overtime, yes. As I understand it, the vast majority of overtime does not fall into that category.”

Why They Work

I’d like to show you a letter I received from a controller who made the point very clearly about why, despite the confusion with terms and policies, our ATC system continues to function.

“One of the personality traits that air traffic controllers share is the ‘I can make anything work / I can fix anything’ mentality,” Center controller Dan Lage said. “We are  not going to let our companions work understaffed with little or no breaks in their workday because the FAA has arbitrarily reduced staffing levels while air traffic numbers are soaring. Denver Center’s traffic has almost doubled in the last 20 years, but we are working with about the same, or maybe fewer, number of controllers we had in 1988. We know what it is like to be swimming in airplanes for 3 hours without an offer of a break, or struggle to get miles in trail restrictions for overburdened airports or airspace.

“We may be tired but we are not going to leave or companions high and dry,” Lage added. “We will offer ourselves to the point of exhaustion to help each other. We constantly are having to make up for managements misjudgments and make faulty equipment and software work. We will carry on until we are driven literally into the ground. We can’t help it. It is ingrained into our personalities.”

Down the Road

I have asked Laura Brown for a look at the agency’s review of the amount of overtime used in the past few years, as well as what kind of dollar figure that represents. I’ll post something as soon as I receive her response. Perhaps that will answer the question of not simply how much overtime is being consumed, but why the agency doesn’t seem to be as concerned about the issue as the people doing the work.

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33 Responses to “ATC Overtime; FAA & Controller Perspectives”

  1. Jeff martin Says:

    Ms Brown’s statement…“There is no such thing as a Do Not Call list” is a flat out lie. Headquarters has instructed facilities to do away with such niceties, but a ‘no OT” or “do not call” list still exists at most facilities. Being on the no call list does not ensure you won’t be called. It means the will call the “volunteers” first.

  2. Robert Card Says:

    The kind of FAA doublespeak you received from Ms. Brown is the same we controllers hear everyday. Experienced controllers DO NOT volunteer to have four days off a month after month after month….

  3. Chris Kennedy Says:

    [quote]Also, if they use up up everyone on the volunteer list and schedule someone who has not volunteered, but the opportunity exists to swap schedules, is that mandatory?[/quote]Hell yes, you’ve been scheduled for extra work without ‘volunteering’ that would make it mandatory; swapping schedules means they person swapping into your schedule must accept the mandatory OT too. Spin, Spin, Spin. Rome is not burning, Rome is not burning…

    In Australia, we can drop out of overtime without penalty. We have similar staffing issues and much of what Dan Lage said is a universal ATC concept; same thing goes on here too.

    I wonder about Fatigue Management; any modern Risk Assessment must consider fatigue. A tool such as FAID(tm) produced by a university here in Oz (is been used here by ATCs) may assess things a little more ‘scientifically’. It’s not a panacea, and it does have issues, but at least it’s a start of the process to say perhaps the individual is too tired after 9 days straight of rotating duty time.

  4. ken Says:

    In the field we refer to Laura Brown as the Iraqi Minister of Information!

  5. Moe Zurgerburger Says:

    I’ll bet if one were to delve a little deeper one might find that there are many facilities/areas of specialization that don’t even keep any sort of call/don’t call list.

    By default then everyone who is assigned OT is a volunteer. It’s really a matter of symantics and the agency is using this spin to try and make their workers look bad.

    If the agency touted

  6. Jim Bond Says:

    I really don’t expect you to hear back from Laura. They have drawn their line in the sand saying that the overtime is only 2% system wide just like it has been for years.

    That just has to be false.

    I suspect they may have “rebaselined” their overtime number by comparing padding the numbers with every member of the FAA as a whole to the old overtime number that just included the controllers.

    This agency has a lot more chiefs than Indians, something like a 4 to 1 ratio of management to field operative (controller, inspector, etc). If you include all the cubical dwellers you can really bring the OT rate down.

  7. A80 Says:

    Let me start you off with some OT numbers from my facility. I work in the Atlanta Tracon, in 2006 we used 600K in OT. This was the year we added one addition hunk of airspace and a fifth RY to ATL. 2/3 of the controllers needed training on the extra airspace and 2/3 needed trained on procedures for the new RY. In 2007 NO extra training was required yet we used, 1.722 MILLION dollars in OT. Every single controller worked OT. It did not matter what list you were on, it did not matter what days off you had, you worked OT. It was so bad we thought about bidding on one day off instead of two that way you at least knew which one you would have off.
    I personally worked 45 OT days in 2007 and I was not a volunteer for most of the year. No one was called at home to come in for OT either. The FAA was quick to figure out if they did not schedule the OT they were going to make a lot of phone calls with no one answering. Not because we did not feel for those left at work with no relief, but because enough was enough. Some days no one was available to call anyway they were already scheduled. We did not cause this problem the FAA did, by not putting controllers in the seats. Then they made it worse by not paying controllers more to come to the busiest airport in the WORLD! Why would anyone want to move from their current job, train at a new facility where many do not qualify, uproot family all for no or very little improvement to the family income? They could send you anywhere if you didn’t qualify, don’t believe me just ask Laura it’s in her little white book.
    The FAA had an answer for this as well, CTI students. Well we have been training them SEPT 06 and we only have them qualified on one position. We all work around 10 positions, do that math. 2006: 80 CPC 2008: 65 you tell me, but I think we need a few more VOLUNTEERS!!

  8. Jeff martin Says:

    Mr Marks, I’m not sure how to interpret the data in the GAO report. If 85% of the controllers have volunteered to work overtime, does that mean they volunteered 1 time or for all their OT. Keep in mind, all this info came from the FAA. The GAO states in the report that the “FAA lacks reliable runway safety data “. If they can’t keep [or are hiding] reliable stats on a safety issue, how reliable is their voluntary OT data?

    The end game is that fatigued controllers are not as safe. It doesn’t matter if that fatigue is by choice.

  9. JS Says:

    What I find funny about Laura Brown’s own reply is that she says there is no such thing as a “Do Not Call List”, if that is true, then what she is saying is that every controller is on a “Yes” list and thats why they can claim that all the OT is volunteered!? Most of congress sees right through the FAA’s spin and lies, what will it take (short of an accident) for the rest to see the light?

  10. Zero Says:

    I hope by the previous posts you are starting to “get it”. The FAA brass is full of hot air and lies. The Controllers are being disrespected and destroyed. Nobody cares. The Senate can’t even get FAA Reauthorization passed. The writing is on the wall for a horrible disaster. I’m a Controller and I am not flying anymore. I am telling my family not to fly. What does that tell ya?

  11. Mark T. Says:

    “Never in my quietest moments did I imagine the conversation about FAA and its overtime policy was going to erupt into such a round of air rage of sorts”

    Your opening sentence says it all: FAA and its overtime policy… Their policy is to confuse, divide, mis-inform, and do as they please – fatigue be damned.

    It is nothing more than semantics, when the FAA’s #1 boss says we are “volunteering” for overtime. If it was truly a volunteer request, then I’d be able to hand back to my supervisor, the four slips of paper for March/April that say I have to work overtime. Instead, the ONLY way I can avoid working it, is if I con a co-worker into taking them off of my hands. But, that’s rather difficult you see: when I started 20 years ago, we might have had 12 to 15 people on a shift. We now routinely have 6 or 7. Oh, and traffic has increased 50% in that time, too.

    If blow-off the overtime, then I WILL be disciplined. I will lose money (and not the overtime money), and I could be suspended and/or fired.

    A volunteer list is nothing more than a pay-me-now, or pay-me-later wish list. One way or another, we will have to work the overtime.

  12. Dale Says:

    Brown: “There is no such thing as a Do Not Call list. When controllers are hired, it’s clear that they may be asked to work overtime, whether or not they want to.”

    As a retired Systems Specialist (Electronics Technician) for the FAA, I know how the FAA managers interpret statements such as this.

    FAA’s opinion is that if you accept a position with the FAA, then, by default, you have “volunteered” for any and all requirements that FAA management may levy. If you do not agree, then you are allowed to “find employment elsewhere.”

    I, personnally, have been told this, as have many, many co-workers (controllers, technicians, and others). By FAA rules, they control each individual workers lives both on and off the job.

  13. Richard Says:

    SoCal TRACON’s overtime amount was near $400,000 in 2004. In 2007, it was $4.3 MILLION.I retired early, since I saw this coming, and I would rather have the time with my family, than “camp-out” at work.

  14. Robert Mark Says:

    This is a tough one, but it is pretty clear that someone is playing pretty fast and lose with the term volunteer.

    There have been so many astounding comments here that I hate to single anyone out, but I will anyway.

    “A80″ at ATL is my man only because that is a facility that stands out in my head as one where the volunteer list mentioned in the GAO report was extremely high.

    So now we find out that the volunteer time at ATL is all mandatory. But it’s considered volunteer because you knew when you hired on that you might be called. Is that about right?

    I do have a call in to the folks at GAO as well because I’d like to know where their data came from but it seems clear that too came from FAA.

    The GAO report did make a point of explaining that the FAA does a poor job of tracking data, so we don’t know that anything we see is acuurate any longer.

    So my apologies to all of you folks if it looked like I was poking at you about this OT issue.

    Something for sure looked odd and I guess we know now what it is.

    Seems like we are back to where we were a few weeks ago when I began linking my overall air safety concerns to tired controllers.

    Jeff Martin said above, “The end game is that fatigued controllers are not as safe.”

    The game of how they got to the overtime situation – volunteer or mandatory – is really irrelevant.

    The point is that the system is obviously short staffed and it’s only going to get worse.

    Rob Mark

  15. Debbie Says:

    How about this management comment I have heard after a single mom controller didn’t want overtime because she had an obligation with her child “the FAA didn’t issue you that kid”
    Sweet folks we work for.

  16. dave whisnant Says:

    Many thanks for following through.

  17. Guy Fox Says:

    You can not believe a word Ms. Brown says and thus the reason I retired at the un-ripe young age of 47 due to the lies and misconsceptions my employer tried to sell me on through the likes of Laura Brown. As many have stated here, most of the Overtime is scheduled and has nothing to due with the call in volunteer list. Back when facilities were staffed you could volunteer to work an occassional overtime shift if you happened to be available. Others didn’t want to be bothered at all on their days off, and thus were not on the volunteer list. In todays FAA most every CPC is scheduled mandatory 6 day weeks, thus no random occasional call up for volunteer Overtime. This is typical apples and Lemons from the FAA spokesperson that most lead the mass retirements of my age. Happily retired in 01/03/2008 at 47 due to the likes of Laura Brown!

  18. D Says:

    That’s about the only way the FAA can spin the overtime. When 2 facilities listed here spent 6 million on overtime in 1 year the only response is “hey, they volunteered for it”. Huh?

    We have people so tired of it here that 3 people split 1 overtime shift today to manage family functions.

  19. dblz Says:

    I’m glad to see you doing the research Mr. Marks, thank-you. One point to remember, as our friend from down under pointed out, unless or until controllers have the right to refuse overtime due to fatigue instead of facing punishment/discipline for refusal, we will continue to have an overworked, UNSAFE system. Saw thise coming years ago, retired in ’05.

  20. Dale Says:

    Case in point to my earlier post (above), check out the article at
    http://www.delcotimes.com/WebApp/appmanager/JRC/Daily?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pg_article&r21.pgpath=%2FDCT%2FNews&r21.content=%2FDCT%2FNews%2FContentTab_Feature_1618013

    It quotes FAA Spokesman Jim Peters as saying, “If any controller at the Philadelphia Airport believes that these procedures are unsafe, they should look for work elsewhere.”

    And also, “If they don’t like working for FAA, they should reconsider their line of work.”

    These are specious and undeserved comments. Our Air Traffic Controller deserve better than that kind of mindless pap.

  21. Impacted... Says:

    Mr Mark-

    Thank you for taking the time to actually investigate these claims. It is easy to simply swallow what the FAA says because their messages are full of twisted half truth and conviluted messages. But by digging deeper, you’ve exposed merely a fraction of the nonsense and malay we all deal with on a daily basis. Carry on.

  22. PMags Says:

    I happen to be an FAA employee who appreciates my job and opportunity to earn the type of salary I do. ATC specialist are amongst the highest paid federal employees and many of their salaries (due to overtime) exceed that of their managers. I have worked with Laura Brown and know her to be a dedicated professional who puts in many more hours than these whining controllers. I have had to call Ms. Brown at all hours of the night to notify her of various situations that impact the FAA system and I don’t believe she earns any overtime. She has always been friendly and appreciative that we kept her informed. I believe I know her fairly well and the picture the others are painting of her could not be further from the truth.

  23. DAB Says:

    Being on the Yes or No list is a formality. With our rate of retirees vs. new controller facility checkouts, everyone will get overtime. That little piece of paper is a joke. If anything, FAA management uses that request to appear concerned. This manning crisis is no accident folks. Make conditions poor enough, every high paid controller who is eligible to retire will. That leaves the new B scale employees. The FAA is playing chicken with the flying public. Wake up people!

  24. Mags1023 Says:

    Are these comments from the same controllers who were caught manipulating the system by calling in sick so that management had to call someone in on overtime and then the sick person miraculously gets better and shows up for work? The controller who was called in to work overtime cannot be sent home, so they get overtime for the hours they work. These NATCA controllers are not dummies. They know how to manipulate the system, just as they are manipulating the flying public with fears of system overload. The other initiative they are working is trying to get to retire and come back to work for the FAA at full salary and full retirement. Maybe this is why the training programs at most FAA atc facilities is lacking. PATCO was nothing compaed to these folks.

  25. DAB Says:

    Mags1023, wow where do I start? You are either management, a controller who just got selected for a management position, or a management wannabe. Please do not attempt to speak with authority on a profession you know nothing about.
    -“Are these comments from the same controllers who were caught manipulating the system by calling in sick so that management had to call someone in on overtime and then the sick person miraculously gets better and shows up for work? The controller who was called in to work overtime cannot be sent home, so they get overtime for the hours they work”.
    Do the actions of a few individuals at one facility define all others? Be careful, management, you do not want to go down that road.
    -“They know how to manipulate the system,…”
    If by manipulation you mean working around FAA management and red tape to move more traffic safer, then we are guilty as charged.
    -“… just as they are manipulating the flying public with fears of system overload”.
    If you had any clue about being FPL in today’s FAA, you would be ashamed at this accusation. This is typical corporate jargon from men and women who sit in cubicles in an office somewhere on the umpteenth floor of some plain looking building in Washington. These conclusions are so far detached from reality you shouldn’t even talk or confess you are part of the FAA. SAFETY is and will ALWAYS BE controllers first priority. Have you ever separated traffic in your sleep from being so worried you did it right? Have you heard the last transmission of a pilot in a doomed aircraft? Didn’t think so. Ever had the nightmare about two airliners flying head to head and not being able to turn either? No? The system is overloaded and unsafe. How you can spin that is beyond me (manipulation in managers terms means controllers whistle blowing to the real state of affairs the public and Congress).
    Your FAA is the entity that is trying to seduce retirement eligible controllers to stay with a ridiculous cash offer. It is yet another band aid attempt by the FAA to curb retirements. Yes they know staffing is AFU. You dare to act like it’s a surprise? NATCA has been warning of this for YEARS!
    Do us all a favor and write your ideas down on sticky note. Give them to your boss. You and he can sip the kool-aid and chuckle while collecting your annual raises that we no longer get. IDIOT!

  26. Mags1023 Says:

    DAB, your response is justification to everything I have written. You are the typical angry NATCA controller who has no idea of what it is like to manage a facility. I don’t work in a cubicle and I am confident I am more proficient in atc and it’s rules and regulations than you will ever dream to be………..oh yeah, that’s right, you do dream of being a better controller than you are as you stated in your latest rant.

    Sounds like you need a good shrink and a different profession. Life is too short to be as angry as you are………….

    Maybe you could find a less stressful position at your local Walmart or Home Depot where you will be adequately compensated for your efforts.

  27. DAB Says:

    You still dont get it. We arent concerned with “managing” a facility. You speak nothing of SAFETY. We keep airplanes apart. It is that simple. We dont care about metrics, we care about miles in trail.
    The FFA pushes this business mentality. We are not a business. We are not the flying public’s friend or associate. They are not our customer. We enforce rules and separate airplanes. Our profession is different from all others because lives are at stake.

    Yes Im angry. You should be too. The FAA’s focus is solely on cost cutting. If the flying public only knew! It should be on SAFETY. The real spirit of FAA’s protocol has been highlighted in the media with airline flight inspections. Im convinced that if there was no NATCA to speak up and call the FAA to the carpet when something looks wrong, the ATC system would be just as corrupt and dangerous.

    As to proficiency, reading a manual is different from understanding the intent and applying it. If you are an OM or FLM, please do not plug in and work traffic between 7am and 2am. It would embarrassing to decertify yourself.

    Yes its true that I am always striving to be better.

    There are no minimum wage jobs available in the DAB area. All the new hires are working 2 or 3 jobs in addition to ATC to stay off food stamps.

    How sad that controllers promoted to supervisors and managers forget where they came came from. Please listen to yourself. You must remember working traffic. Your post reads of “managing a facility”. Is that really your number one priority? Try managing SAFETY.

    Feel free to respond. You are doing on work time anyway.

  28. Mags1023 Says:

    I think we both know the number one priority in ATC and managing an ATC facility is safety. The facility manager wouldn’t (shouldn’t) last long if it wasn’t. I don’t deny that NATCA has done some good things for controllers, but they blew it this last time around. Isn’t that why your leader, Mr. Carr got dumped??? Your at DAB and whining?????? Try the DFW metroplex, ORD or ATL and then I will listen to you. Sounds like your OE and OD count must be creeping up on you :) I’m out, PM

  29. DAB Says:

    “Safety at a reasonable cost”

    Exactly what did NATCA blow? If you are referring to our last real contract, or green book, it was agreed to by the FAA. They signed off on it just like we did. Was it a good controller contract?…you bet it was! Due to people like John Carr. His tireless efforts in dealing with an unrelenting and scheming employer is what led to his demise. Wrong place at the wrong time.

    6 day work weeks are 6 day work weeks. Doesnt matter if you work at A80(Atlanta tracon), N90(New York Tracon), or even little old DAB. Time away from family is time away from family.

    ATCS 1985-present…2 OD’s, no OE’S.

    You are right though. The count is creeping up all around me. Good people Ive known for years are having separation errors because they are tired and/or training kids that have no business being at a busy TRACON/Tower. Yes we are busy too. Grab a headset and come on by. This time of year is perfect.
    The FAA counts them as actual controllers to Congress. The reality is they are 3-5 year projects IF they even make it. All they are doing is increasing our fatigue.

    This whole disagreement started with mandatory OT and controllers working 6 day works weeks. We started dialogging 10 days ago. Im still working mandatory OT, 6 days per week. Are you? Think about that Friday when clock strikes 5pm and lock up your office.

    People like you and people like me will never agree. Please refrain from attempting to stain our reputation…”safety at any cost”

  30. Mags1023 Says:

    Hmmm. 6 days a week away from family. How tough. Not going to get much sympathy here since I spent 20 years in the navy and was separated from my family for months at a time. No overtime for 12-16 hour days at sea. I never whined and I’m not whining now. Just stating fact. I signed up for it and honored my committment. As my mother always taught me, someone else is suffering much more than you, so don’t feel sorry for yourself. There are thousands of US citizens who would replace you in a heart beat. Go to Walter Reed military hospital and walk the halls with your story of injustice. I don’t think even you would be able to feel sorry for yourself in that atmosphere. You are in a group of the highest paid federal employees. Enjoy it! The family you speak of is enjoying the fruits of your success. There are hundreds of executive level professionals (federal and private) who are working 50-60 hour work weeks and not receiving one cent of overtime and the majority earn less than you. Look in the mirror and whine to the guy you see, because he is the only person you might get to agree with you. Oh, that’s not correct, you can get together with your NATCA bretheren and whine all day about how bad you have it. You are brainwashed and there is little hope for you. You will continue to be an angry person who cannot appreciate what he has.

    Oh, by the way, I have no office, I am a shift worker, I work overtime and appreciate the opportunity to work for the FAA and earn the salary I do. If I didn’t, I would find another position or profession so that I could enjoy life. It’s much too short to be angry.

    You are right we could never agree, because I look on the bright side of things, am a positive person. You on the other hand accentuate the negative and look for any reason to whine. You have wonderful medical benefits, why don’t you explore your options and seek the therapy you are in dire need of. The demonic employer you work for offers you PAID sick and stress leave so that you can get better. Oh, but I bet that you have extended yourself financially and probaby woud not be able to manage your finances without the overtime compensation that you whine about.

  31. DAB Says:

    I am Veteran as well. Served with pride. Honorably discharged. No need to drag disabled veterans into our discussion. They are all heroes in my eyes. I respect you for time served. Thank you.
    Please don’t mistake me feeling sorry for
    myself with frustration for my employer who has totally mismanaged staffing in the nation. I worked the private sector for a few years prior to government employment. I know I have it good. There is still no job I would rather do. Sadly, you refer to NATCA as whiners. Fair enough from your side of the desk, I suppose. But it is this very NATCA that has told the FAA for a decade that a serious manning crisis is looming on the horizon. FAA took no action bolster the ATCS workforce.
    This is why we are working longer with less breaks and training inexperienced new hires. People in suits decided a course of action and the controller has to make it work. The way we see it is nothing short of burning the candle at both ends.

    We couldn’t understand why that particular course of action was chosen until the last two years. Well here it is for the public. Impose work rules with a specific intent of making work difficult. That way the older, more experienced controllers will quickly retire leaving only B scale employees. AGAIN-COST SAVINGS.

    Had the FAA chosen the morally correct and safe course of action we wouldn’t be in the crisis we are now. Overtime would still be taboo just like was in the old days. We would have 5 day work weeks like the rest America.

    Despite our differences, you cannot sanely deny that the FAA 1-Planned this whole staffing shortage, and 2-Places more importance on saving a buck over the welfare of its employees and has deemed saving a buck more important than the safety of the flying public. Operational errors, deviations and near misses are at an all time high. Undeniable solid facts.

    So to any civilian out there following this drawn out discussion, please accept this summary as I see it.

    Controllers worry about safety of flying public first and foremost ALWAYS. We worry about being forced to work long work weeks because fatigue compounds. Those of us in front of scopes and manning tower cabs know that relates to decreased mental sharpness and acuity. We know that training an individual with little or no ATC experience only exacerbates this situation and compounds fatigue even further.

    FAA speaks of managing a facility. FAA tells me to be thankful for my job and benefits. FAA sees me as whiner. FAA tells me to look for another profession because I am angry at the current state of affairs that is funded by my/your taxpayer dollars. FAA suggests I get stress counseling, see above. FAA tells me to be glad to be working overtime(even though its because they screwed up).FAA sees NATCA as a glorified PATCO.

    NATCA has no credibility issues. Air Traffic Controller have no credibility issues. If we did, you would have heard of it by now.

    The FAA on the hand has severe credibility issues. They range from pencil whipped flight inspections to the air traffic control system to the botched and ineffective privatization of the nations Flight Service Stations.

    Draw you own conclusion folks. Next time your stuck in the terminal with a two hour “Air Traffic” delay remember this bbs. Recall who cried for safety and who called for effective management.

    PS-Next time you hear an FAA spokesperson say “safety was never compromised”, find the pilots and passengers. Ask them…

    MAGS it has been real. Ive enjoyed this discussion but its old fruitless. Im going to bed now so I dont stay in bed on my only day off. Peace

  32. Mags1023 Says:

    I agree. You seem like a true professional who loves his job and takes it very seriously. Thanks for that and keep up the great work. I hope they do get you some relief.

    I guess I just wanted to give you some perspective from someone who has worked at HQ, but is not a 15 or above. In my job, I had to monitor some very high level conversations between the Administrator, Secretary and Laura Brown and I think you would be surprised at the level of concern they actually have for the controllers. Their hands are tied on a lot of budgetary issues, so it looks like they sometimes don’t care, but I believe they do. Bobby Sturgell is really a great person to work for and he does care. He is the type of boss who comes through the workspace and talks with you and takes the time to tell you he appreciates what you’re doing. I have seen him cut his lunch short in between to Congressional sessions to say good-bye to a and faa employee or contractor who is transferring. I am sure you can imagine how busy he is, so that meant a lot to all of us who work closely with him. Marion would do the same, but Bobby is more of a people person.

    Take care and as part of the flying public, I do appreciate the job you guys do and I believe you earn your salaries. Keep em safe!

  33. Robert Mark Says:

    Well Mags1023 & DAB, I wanted to jump in earlier but the conversation between the two of you was absolutely fascinating in a very positive way.

    I appreciate the opportunity to listen in as two people with contrary views actually listened to each other.

    Let me ask a question of Mags … and I’m not a controller either.

    Don’t you not think that much of the FAA employee chaos we’ve all experienced in the past year and a half is directly related to the agency imposing new work rules on controllers?

    Whether anyone likes it or not, FAA and NATCA did sign a document that insured collective bargaining rights for controllers 20 years ago. FAA arbitrarily lit a match to that agreement.

    Like you, I do think controllers are angry, but with good reason.

    They signed up for a job that included a union agreement and the agency pulled that carpet out from under them after they started work.

    So tell me what the FAA folks you mentioned – Sturgell, Brown etc. – have to say about that. Axing the agreement and refusing any and all attempts to renegotiate a new one doesn’t sound like they are in touch with the issues at all.

    But as DAB said too, there is more than just a single issue at hand, labor relations and staffing. Budget aside, if you want to improve labor relations and improve the system at the same time – I believe they go hand in hand – why not stick with the agreement you made?

    You seem like a reasonable person to me, so I’m curious what the Washington types have to say about their refusal to stand behind the collective bargaining provisions they agreed to 20 years ago. That is not purely a budgetary issue. That’s a control issue and even folks on the outside of the agency believe that.

    If this was an airline that violated a labor contract – and yes, I agree it is not – the employees would have struck long ago. Why should the FAA – and the government – be above the law? If the agency can refuse the labor provisions they agreed to long ago, why would you expect the controllers to abide by the “no strike,” oath they took?

    Like the conversation you and DAB have been having, when people talk to each other, they hopefully learn to respect differing views. From where I’m sitting, it sure looks like FAA doesn’t want to hear from employees and simply wants to rule them.

    Those kinds of rancorous labor relations can’t keep on forever. Surely even you must see that. Is everyone at the current FAA simply waiting for a new White House boss to set down a few updated guidelines before they make a move to work with the people they claim to care so much about?

    Rob Mark

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