NATCA Protests Federal Shutdown

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As the government shutdown rolls into its 11th day on New Year’s Day, aviation services are feeling the impact, and NATCA is not happy about it. The controllers’ union has plenty to complain about … the FAA has closed its training academy in Oklahoma City, and training at all ATC facilities is suspended. Many new hires at towers, who haven’t yet completed their on-site training, have been furloughed. If the shutdown in Oklahoma City continues, it could affect hiring goals for all of 2019, says Paul Rinaldi, NATCA president.

The impact is even worse because ATC facilities nationwide already were understaffed, says Rinaldi. “Even before the shutdown, controllers have needed to work longer and harder to make up for the staffing shortfall. Overtime in the form of six-day weeks and 10-hour days is common at many of the nation’s busiest and most short-staffed facilities, including radar facilities in New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas,” Rinaldi said. “And none of the controllers forced to work during this shutdown will see pay for their hard work to keep travelers safe until the shutdown ends. This shutdown must end now.” House Democrats could vote to change this when they reconvene on Thursday, according to Politico. One proposal would restore funding to the Transportation Department, which includes the FAA, until Sept. 30. But the Republicans are not expected to support that bill.