Air Traffic Privatization Is Toothless Sans Union Reform

The existing union contract would hold for the new ATC Corp, including wasteful “official time” provisions. “Official time” is time spent working for the union instead of the taxpayer. In 2012, the latest data available, 19 air traffic controllers, 18 of whom earned six-figures salaries, were on full-time official time. Removing this perk would save over $3 million annually-but it could not be done in the near future under the existing bill.

The union would negotiate with the ATC Corp on all compensation and conditions of employment, and it would have to approve which services and personnel were transferred from the FAA to the new ATC Corp, and vice versa.

True privatization allows the entity to cut costs and adopt new technology. The NextGen technology for air traffic control systems requires less manpower than does today’s technology. Under the proposed bill, unions would be able to prevent the technology from being implemented-or require workers to be kept on, even though they might not be needed.

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