Air Traffic Control Privatization and the Pandemic

The Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS), AFL-CIO, has long opposed any attempts to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system. After years of pushing back on legislation introduced in Congress and attempts by the previous president to privatize the system, a five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was signed into law in October 2018 without any privatization language.
 
During the pandemic, air travel around the world plummeted and how other nations dealt with their privatized air traffic control systems speaks volumes about why PASS has always maintained that air traffic control is an inherently governmental function. PASS member Pat Delaney serves as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) representative from the International Federation of Air Traffic Safety Electronics Associations (IFATSEA), of which PASS is a member. In the following article, he examines the consequences of outsourcing air traffic control.

COVID-19 Pandemic and Air Navigation Service Providers

The covid-19 pandemic has reached the one-year milestone. The pandemic has wreaked unforeseen havoc on the world’s economies. Who would have thought we would be told to say home from work and school with only essential businesses open—all others closed. The roadways in the United States became barren as well as the skies. The U.S. airline industry slowed to a level not seen since September 11, 2001: only this time it would last for months. The world-wide airline industry has been hit the hardest. The demand for air travel was crippled by the public’s fear of the infectious disease and being trapped in an aircraft for hours. Countries imposing travel restrictions also reduced the demand for international flights.

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PASS Congratulates New TTD Leaders

The Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS), AFL-CIO congratulates the unanimous election of Greg Ragan as president of the Transportation Trades Department (TTD), AFL-CIO and Shari Semelsberger as TTD’s first female secretary-treasurer at the TTD Executive Committee meeting today. The election was held less than three months after the untimely death of President Larry Willis.

“Greg stepped up to lead TTD after Larry’s tragic passing,” said PASS National President Mike Perrone. “He did so with tremendous grace and without missing a beat during a difficult time for the TTD staff.” PASS is one of 33 unions that make up the TTD coalition; Perrone is a member of the Executive Committee. “I look forward to working with Greg and Shari in their new administration and with a new secretary of transportation to promote the critical work of our collective members,” continued Perrone.

At today’s meeting, the Executive Committee also establshed the Larry Willis Leadership Award to be given annually to a public servant or community leader who demonstrates commitment, dedication, and advocacy on behalf of transportation workers.

PASS Congratulates Secretary Buttigieg

The Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, AFL-CIO (PASS) congratulates Pete Buttigieg on his confirmation as Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT). He was confirmed today by a bipartisan Senate vote of 86–13. PASS represents 11,000 employees at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) who protect, maintain and certify the largest, safest and most complex air traffic control system in the world. PASS National President Mike Perrone serves on the FAA’s Safety Oversight and Certification Advisory Committee and the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) Advisory Committee, both of which report to the DOT secretary. “I look forward to working with Secretary Buttigieg on these important committees,” Perrone said. “I applaud the secretary for his pro-worker positions and know that he will ensure that the FAA employees we represent have the resources and staffing necessary to perform their safety critical work on behalf of the American people.” The PASS leader also noted that the frontline employees at the agency stand ready to work with the secretary and the FAA administrator to implement changes to aircraft certification that were included in the omnibus legislation signed late last year that funded the government through FY2021.

 

PASS Praises President's Rescinding of Anti-Federal Employee EOs

The Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, AFL-CIO (PASS), praised President Joe Biden’s action today that rescinded the three executive orders (EOs) issued in May 2018 that stripped away collective bargaining and other workplace rights from federal employees.

“PASS has been advocating for nearly three years that those executive orders were not only detrimental to the 11,000 employees we represent at the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Defense,” said PASS National President Mike Perrone. “But they were harmful to the American flying public as well. Our aviation safety employees should be focused on just that—aviation safety—and not losing workplace protections.”

The EO signed by the president today also eliminated the new Schedule F, created through executive order in October 2020, that would have stripped the vast majority of workplace protections from certain federal employees in “confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions.” Those employees could also have been fired without cause.

Finally, it appears that the new EO will also widen the scope of bargaining for federal employees by ordering agencies to bargain over permissive subjects under the federal labor statute.

“The new administration came in pledging to restore these rights to federal employees and PASS, on behalf the employees we represent, welcomes today’s action,” said President Perrone.

President-elect Biden's Nomination for Transportation Secretary

PASS congratulates Pete Buttigieg on his nomination as DOT Secretary in the incoming Biden administration. We represent 11,000 employees at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) who protect, maintain and certify the largest, safest and most complex air traffic control system in the world. We look forward to working with Mr. Buttigieg to promote aviation safety and ensure that the FAA employees we represent have the resources, staffing and rights necessary to perform their safety critical work on behalf of the American people. We encourage the Senate to expeditiously consider and approve this nomination.

PASS Member Doug Lowe Honored With ATCA Award

Congratulations are in order for Chapter FL1 President Doug Lowe! Lowe will be recognized by the Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) with its Airway Transportation Systems Specialists Award.

"All of our ATSSs are deserving of recognition for the work they do every day and it is a great honor to have one of our own acknowledged publicly,” said PASS National President Mike Perrone. “Congratulations, Doug!"

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