As the partial shutdown of the federal government enters its third week, we want to thank NATCA's members and representatives for your professionalism in the face of this political standoff. It is critical to NATCA's efforts to educate members of Congress and the Administration as we do our part to convince everyone involved to fund the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Your commitment to the National Airspace System (NAS), its users, and each other is remarkable.
Unfortunately, disagreements completely unrelated to the FAA between the President and Congress continue to prevent FAA funding. NATCA leadership and staff remain in close contact with leadership from both parties as well as rank and file members of Congress to continue our efforts to end this shutdown.
Late yesterday, the newly sworn in U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would fund nine federal departments and their associated agencies, including the Department of Transportation and the FAA, through the end of fiscal year 2019. This legislation is similar to what the U.S. Senate passed in December. However, the Senate's Continuing Resolution (CR) only ran through Feb. 8. The Senate Majority Leader has said that the Senate will not take up the House bill nor
any other government funding legislation until the President has indicated he will sign it.
The House bill provides for a 1.9 percent federal pay increase. This legislative language, if passed by both chambers and signed into law, would override the President's Executive Order freezing pay for 2019.
We want to thank those of you who have participated in the e-mail campaign that took place over the past week and those of you who have participated in the call-in campaign that began on Wednesday. Please continue to send e-mails and make calls; they will be directed to your senators
We have also been working with our labor and aviation partners to increase awareness on the effects of the shutdown. NATCA has earned significant media coverage about the negative effects on our members and to the NAS, particularly related to staffing shortages and FAA's suspension of hiring and closure of the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City during the shutdown.
Next week, we begin a mini-lobby week with activists coming to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress and lobby for an end to this shutdown. On Jan. 10, this mini-lobby week will culminate with a rally in front of the Capitol.
Leave For Excepted Employees During the Shutdown
There is no process for excepted employees to request "furlough leave." During a shutdown, employees cannot be in a paid leave status, this means no annual leave, sick leave, or credit hours used. The procedures for requesting and approving leave remain covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement during the shutdown. However, once the absence from duty is approved, the employee will be placed in a furlough status for the duration of the absence.
Several members have inquired about a lawsuit filed by another union regarding paying employees who are working during the government shutdown. NATCA has reviewed the filing in the case. It is a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The only claim in the case concerns pay for employees who performed overtime work on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, and allegedly did not receive overtime pay as part of their most recent paycheck. The government's answer is due on March 4, by which time we are hopeful that the shutdown will be long resolved.
FAA's shutdown began on Dec. 24 at 12:01 a.m., and it had no effect on overtime or any other pay for time worked prior to the shutdown.
As you know from previous NATCA-filed and supported lawsuits against the federal government, they can take decades. NATCA's lawsuit challenging the process of contracting out the Federal Contract Towers lasted for 17 years and our FLSA lawsuit has been ongoing for 11 years. They can also have unintended consequences, not contemplated when the cases are filed.
NATCA is exploring all of our legal options to make our members whole should they go without a paycheck.
NATCA Member Resources
We know that you may have questions about the shutdown and how it affects you. NATCA has negotiated a procedural
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
with the FAA. That MOU accompanies the existing Furlough MOU and the associated Questions & Answers.
These documents are available on the NATCA website
. The Dec. 21 procedural MOU and the Furlough MOU apply to all FAA NATCA BUEs regardless of contract.
The Questions & Answers on the website cover a variety of topics and issues including annual and sick leave, use or lose annual leave, holidays, and payroll processing, among many other things. If you have any questions or concerns not addressed by the documents on the website, please contact your RVP. We also have set up an e-mail address:
However long this shutdown lasts, it reinforces our strong belief that the status quo is broken. The NAS requires a stable, predictable funding stream in order to adequately support air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training, long-term modernization projects, preventative maintenance, ongoing modernization to the physical infrastructure, integration of new entrants, and the timely implementation of NextGen modernization projects. The constant funding crises that arise from stop-and-go funding continue to wreak havoc on our system and perpetuate the current staffing crisis, which has resulted in a 30-year low of certified professional controllers.
As we get closer to Jan. 15 and the first missed paycheck of the shutdown, we know that the financial pressure on each of you is building. We will continue to aggressively advocate on your behalf until the shutdown ends.