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Initial contract for air traffic controllers.

The Nation's air traffic controllers negotiated their first labor contract with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) since 11,400 controllers were fired by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 for striking in violation of Federal law. At that time, controllers were represented by the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, which ceased operation in 1982 after undergoing bankruptcy and losing its right to represent the controllers. In the following years, a small number of the strikers won reinstatement under an appeal procedure, but the Congress failed in its efforts to require the President to reinstate a substantial number of the strikers.

The successor union, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, won the right to represent the current force of 13,000 controllers in June 1987. A year later, R. Steve Bell was elected president of the union, which has 7,000 members. The union's constitution prohibits strikes and Bell has vowed to work with the FAA to resolve continuing problems stemming from the efforts to rebuild the force of controllers and modernize the entire control system.

The initial 3-year contract, which was subject to ratification by members of the union, includes provisions that would restore immunity to controllers reporting operating errors or deficiencies in the system (immunity had been dropped in 1980); assures union participation in accident investigations involving controller actions; guarantees a rest break after 2 hours of duty; guarantees employees 2 weeks of vacation during the prime vacation season; establishes joint committees on safety, technology, and other matters; and calls for development of improved methods to reduce job stress.

The accord does not deal with salaries, which are set by the President and the Congress. The annual pay of controllers ranges from $19,000 to $55,000.
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Title Annotation:Developments in Industrial Relations
Author:Ruben, George
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Mar 1, 1989
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