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NATCA Applauds FAA Funding, Warns Of Potential Future Instability

WASHINGTON – The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) today applauds the full funding of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, as part of the passage of the “Cromnibus” spending bill approved last week. At the same time, NATCA President Paul Rinaldi warns that sequestration remains a threat to the modernization and stability of the National Airspace System (NAS).

“The ground beneath our NAS has settled for the moment, thanks to the work of Congress to pass this funding bill,” Rinaldi said. “However, this is only a nine-month deal. Sequestration is a 10-year law. We cannot forget how damaging sequestration was in 2013 for the NAS and for the aviation safety professionals who work so hard maintaining it as the safest, most efficient, and most complex in the world.”

Aviation creates nearly 12 million jobs that contribute $1.5 trillion to the nation’s gross domestic product. Every day, there are 70,000 flights that transport two million passengers. Thus, said Rinaldi, this FY15 spending bill is a “nice holiday present” for both travelers and the NAS.

However, he added, NATCA and its fellow stakeholders in the aviation system must continue to advocate for long-term funding stability.

“The current stop-and-go funding process increases costs and makes planning for complex modernization projects impossible. Stable long-term funding is needed to keep progress moving forward,” Rinaldi said.

NATCA’s collaboration with the FAA and the industry couldn’t be better and NextGen is advancing due to this collaborative effort. NATCA is issuing an update today on several NextGen programs that are progressing well, with notable recent successes. It’s our second quarterly issue of NextGen Now, available by clicking HERE.  (http://natca.uberflip.com/i/434417)

Join the discussion on social media: #NextGenNowUS

“NextGen is happening now,” Rinaldi said. “This is why stable funding for the long term is so critically important. The progress of modernization, as well as an effective pipeline for hiring and training the controller workforce to use the tools of a more modernized system, cannot and must not be slowed or stopped again if the U.S. is to maintain its standing as the world leader in aviation.”

GOP House Members still fighting? Gonna be costly.

No, it’s not de ja vu. It’s just that… so much of it is still exactly on-point.  Wish it wasn’t, but it is. So, with very few updates, here’s a repeat of my post from February 6, 2013:

————————

Last person leaving, please dock the doorsHoping for bipartisan cooperation, now that the election is over? Think again.

The weekend before the inauguration, Republicans gathered in Williamsburg to discuss strategies for “fighting” the President. Just a week later, former Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan was telling a gathering of conservatives that “Republicans control both the House and most of the statehouses. So we have to oppose the president and the Senate on some fronts—and engage them on others…”

Does that sound like cooperation to you?

Looks like it’s going to be an interesting next few months. Two dates to mark on your calendar:

On March 1st, the sequestration cuts are scheduled to go went into effect. Cutting government services through these automatic, across-the-board cuts is expected to send the economy back into recession. One example: according to a study commissioned by the airline industry, the FAA’s share of the sequestration cuts is about $1 billion a year. That cut would reduce the nation’s air traffic between 5% and 10%, and the country would lose between 66,000 and 132,000 jobs related to air transportation. The irony? The economic losses would cause tax revenues to drop by as much as $1 billion a year. (Hmmn… $1 billion in tax revenues lost because of a $1 billion spending cut. Not a whole lot of deficit-reduction going on, is there?)  After members of Congress were inconvenienced by airport delays, the FAA was granted special treatment under the sequestration act.  Recent estimates of the economic costs of sequestration include:  1.6 million jobs and 1.2% of GDP.

On March 27th  September 30th, the “continuing resolution” that funded federal government expired. That means a possible “government shutdown”. According to Politico, a majority of GOP House members “are prepared to shut down the government to make their point. House Speaker John Boehner ‘may need a shutdown just to get it out of their system,’ said a top GOP leadership adviser.”

What happens if the government shuts down? Federal employees who are deemed “essential” are still required to go to work – they just don’t get paid until after Congress approves a bill to pay them. The last time there was a significant government shutdown, almost a half-million federal employees were required to work without pay for three weeks.

The economic damage went far beyond the family finances of federal employees. The crisis also caused 11 states to suspend unemployment insurance, due to lack of federal funds. Veterans’ services were suddenly unavailable (including counseling, vocational rehabilitation, and pension and education payments). The crisis affected the oil industry, leaving more than 10,000 barrels a day untapped while companies waited for federal reviews. The tourism industry suffered millions of dollars in losses each day of the shutdown, because passports and visas were not processed. The housing industry suffered when $800 million worth of mortgage loans were delayed. The crisis halted cleanup of 609 toxic waste sites. It left hundreds of thousands of children in limbo, waiting for foster care or adoption.

And that was only a partial government shutdown. Most of the government still had funding, during that shutdown. (Just imagine what may happen on March 27th! now!)

There’s a moral here, folks. Government services are integral to our nation’s economy.

Is there any hope that Congress could learn that lesson, in the next month or so? Or is the GOP going to insist on doing economic damage, “just to get it out of their system”?

Union Delegates to Hold Protest Outside Allegiant Airlines Las Vegas Headquarters Thursday Afternoon

allegiant-air-with-pyramid

Transport Workers Ask, “Will Allegiant Be There?” as Problems Continue for Both Passengers and Workers at Discount Airline

LAS VEGAS – Delegates and union activists from the Transport Workers Union (TWU) 24th Constitutional Convention will gather for informational picketing at Allegiant Air headquarters in Las Vegas this coming Thursday, September 26th at 3:30 pm (Pacific Time.)

TWU members, who will wear t-shirts highlighting Allegiant’s “Delayed Service, Cancelled Routes and Abandoned Cities,” are concerned about ongoing customer service issues at the Las Vegas-based discount carrier. Union delegates also will protest the failure of airline management to reach a labor agreement with more than 600 flight attendants who are members of TWU Local 577.

Who:           Delegates and union activists from the TWU convention

What:          Informational picketing and rally

Where:        Allegiant Air headquarters, 8360 South Durango, Las Vegas

When:         Thursday, Sept. 26th, 3:30 pm Pacific Time

“It’s wonderful to have the support of so many of our TWU brothers and sisters from around the country,” said Debra Peterson Barber, an Allegiant flight attendant and Las Vegas-based flight attendant who serves as the lead negotiator for TWU Local 577. “Everyone who works in transportation knows that customer service is the key to success, and we all want to see Allegiant ready to deliver the best possible travel experience for our passengers.”

Allegiant customers have endured reported mechanical failures and other events in recent months that have caused inconvenience, emergency landings and delays of up to 52 hours. The airline, which offers discount fares to vacation destinations, is also reported to add fees for items like using a credit card when buying a ticket.

Earlier this month, Allegiant grounded more than 50 of its airplanes to inspect emergency slide equipment. The action was taken after an emergency evacuation of an Allegiant flight on a runway in Peoria, Illinois, when  one of four emergency slides did not deploy properly.  Following the incident, an inquiry by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) found that Allegiant was not overhauling emergency slides more than 15 years old on an annual basis.  Annual overhaul, as opposed to past practice of once every three years, has been recommended by slide manufacturer Zodiac Aerospace since 2007.

“We are glad that Allegiant, as directed by the FAA, is taking prompt action to ensure the safety of our customers and flight crews,” said TWU International Vice President Thom McDaniel. “Everyone in our union and in Allegiant management agrees that safety must be our number one priority.”

“In that same spirit, we’ll be at Allegiant headquarters on Thursday to urge prompt action on a first contract for Allegiant flight attendants,” McDaniel said. “With a signed agreement in place, our members will be empowered as full partners to ensure safe, affordable travel for our passengers and help this airline succeed.”

The informational picketing at Allegiant headquarters airport is not a work stoppage, or a request for any individual or group to take action.

A majority of Allegiant flight attendants voted for union representation in December 2010.  Union representatives began negotiations with company officials in June of 2011. More than two years later, Allegiant has yet to reach a first contract agreement with flight attendants.

Additional information is available at WillAllegiantBeThere.org

Outrageous; Congress Leaves Town While Budget Cuts Are Loom Over Americans

Absolutely Outrageous!

With the entire economy hanging in the balance from yet another manufactured crisis from Washington, Congress goes on vacation.  This is just hours after Senate Democrats introduced a bill that would be 50-50 spending cuts and revenue increases.  $60 Billion dollars in new revenue would be gained just by closing tax loopholes.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., slammed for GOP leadership for putting the House in recess for a week before voting on the plan.

“We don’t think there’s any time to waste,” she said yesterday. “Every minute counts, and it’s really hard to explain to the American people [that] tomorrow we’ll be leaving for more than a week when a deadline is looming. Sequester is out of the question.”

Millions of jobs hang in the balance as the dreaded sequestration cuts are set to take effect on March 1st.   An Air Traffic Controller from New Hampshire fears that sequestration would mean 14-30 days off.

“The (FAA) administrator said furloughs would be applied to all employees, a minimum of one per pay period and not to exceed two through the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30. By my calculation, that is 14 or 15 pay periods for a potential of being furloughed 14-30 days.”

In a recent press release from the Association of Government Employees explained how these budget cuts would effect seniors and have a direct impact on their Social Security.

“If sequestration is allowed to go into effect”, said AFGE Council President Witold Skwiercznski, “applicants and beneficiaries will have more difficulty getting answers to their questions and confidence in the Social Security system’s ability to function effectively will erode.  Lawmakers need to wake up and know that further cuts at SSA cannot be sustained”.

SSA expects to lose an additional 2,000 employees in FY 2013, which means the agency will lose a total of more than 9,000 federal and state employees from FY 2011 through FY 2013.  SSA will have approximately the same number of employees in FY 2013 as it did in FY 2007, even though workloads have increased dramatically with retirement and survivor claims up 30 percent, and disability claims up 25 percent.

President Obama issued a warning of what these cuts would mean for working families in his weekly address.

“If the sequester is allowed to go forward, thousands of Americans who work in fields like national security, education or clean energy are likely to be laid off.  Firefighters and food inspectors could also find themselves out of work – leaving our communities vulnerable.  Programs like Head Start would be cut, and lifesaving research into diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s could be scaled back.  Small businesses could be prevented from getting the resources and support they need to keep their doors open.  People with disabilities who are waiting for their benefits could be forced to wait even longer.  All our economic progress could be put at risk.”
(see all the areas that would be effected by sequestration cuts in the White House fact sheet)

In an obvious statement of disgust, Rep Annie Kuster sent out this tweet.

If sequestration is so damaging then why is Congress not spending every second to stop it? Why would they go into a recess with less than 15 days to resolve their differences.

GOP House members still in a “fighting” mood?
Could be very costly.

Last person leaving, please dock the doors
Hoping for bipartisan cooperation, now that the election is over?  Think again.

The weekend before the inauguration, Republicans gathered in Williamsburg to discuss strategies for “fighting” the President.  Just a week later, former Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan was telling a gathering of conservatives that “Republicans control both the House and most of the statehouses.  So we have to oppose the president and the Senate on some fronts—and engage them on others…”

Does that sound like cooperation to you?

Looks like it’s going to be an interesting next few months.  Two dates to mark on your calendar:

  • On March 1st, the sequestration cuts are scheduled to go into effect.  Cutting government services through these automatic, across-the-board cuts is expected to send the economy back into recession.  One example:  according to a study commissioned by the airline industry, the FAA’s share of the sequestration cuts is about $1 billion a year.  That cut would reduce the nation’s air traffic between 5% and 10%, and the country would lose between 66,000 and 132,000 jobs related to air transportation.  The irony?  The economic losses would cause tax revenues to drop by as much as $1 billion a year.  (Hmmn… $1 billion in tax revenues lost because of a $1 billion spending cut.  Not a whole lot of deficit-reduction going on, is there?)
  • On March 27th, the “continuing resolution” that funds federal government will expire.   That means a possible “government shutdown”According to Politico, a majority of GOP House members “are prepared to shut down the government to make their point. House Speaker John Boehner ‘may need a shutdown just to get it out of their system,’ said a top GOP leadership adviser.”

What happens if the government shuts down?  Federal employees who are deemed “essential” are still required to go to work – they just don’t get paid until after Congress approves a bill to pay them.  The last time there was a significant government shutdown, almost a half-million federal employees were required to work without pay for three weeks.

The economic damage went far beyond the family finances of federal employees.  The crisis also caused 11 states to suspend unemployment insurance, due to lack of federal funds.  Veterans’ services were suddenly unavailable (including counseling, vocational rehabilitation, and pension and education payments).  The crisis affected the oil industry, leaving more than 10,000 barrels a day untapped while companies waited for federal reviews.  The tourism industry suffered millions of dollars in losses each day of the shutdown, because passports and visas were not processed.   The housing industry suffered when $800 million worth of mortgage loans were delayed.  The crisis halted cleanup of 609 toxic waste sites.  It left hundreds of thousands of children in limbo, waiting for foster care or adoption.

And that was only a partial government shutdown.  Most of the government still had funding, during that shutdown.  (Just imagine what may happen on March 27th!)

There’s a moral here, folks.  Government services are integral to our nation’s economy.

Is there any hope that Congress could learn that lesson, in the next month or so?  Or is the GOP going to insist on doing economic damage, “just to get it out of their system”?

 

Sequestration Could Mean Dangerous Cuts To Aviation

There is no doubt that without the dedication and skill of the FAA’s Air Traffic Controllers, the entire country would suffer.  In a new report from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, NATCA explains what could happen if the mandatory ‘Sequestration’ cuts take effect.

The report states that all users and operators of the National Airspace System including travelers, general aviation pilots, airlines, businesses and the military will feel the impact of the cuts in the form of a reduction in airport and air traffic control services, a diminishing of the NAS’s flight capacity, increased delays and costs to airlines and lags in air traffic modernization.

NATCA warns that if the FAA budget is cut it could result in the furlough of over 2000 air traffic controllers (12% of the workforce).  “This could lead to a reduction in services.” To the public, this mean delays, less available flights and higher costs.

“As the front line safety professionals in the aviation community, it is our role to warn the rest of the country that these cuts will be detrimental to our National Airspace System and the economy,” said NATCA President Paul Rinaldi.

Currently the National Airspace System moves an average of two million passengers on 70,000 flights a day.  A reduction in flights would result in the potential layoff to pilots, flight attendants, ramp agents, ticket agents, and other aviation related jobs.   Aviation is attributed to 10 million jobs and contributes over $1.3 trillion dollars to the GDP.

The air traffic controllers would not be the only ones in the FAA to be hit with mandatory furloughs and layoffs.  In addition to the 2000 air traffic controllers who will be furloughed,  the FAA will have to furlough 7,500 engineers, inspectors, and aviation professionals.  These layoffs would also indefinitely delay all NextGen modernization projects currently being worked on by the FAA.

“The U.S. has the safest and most efficient airspace in the world and the FAA needs appropriate funding to continue directing it,” said NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert. “If Congress allows sequestration to become a reality, the aviation community and the economy will take a major hit. We cannot afford to let that happen.”

It is obvious that we cannot let the ‘Sequestration’ cut take effect.  We need Congress and the President to take action to avoid this potentially dangerous situation.  We elected our legislators in Washington to speak for us, not against us.  We need them to come to an agreement before these cuts take effect and send thousands of good jobs out the door.

 

View NATCA’s full report on the impacts of sequestration.

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