Aviation staffing among union priorities for 2023 (1)

Addressing staff shortages at air traffic control facilities and preventing airlines from misusing visa programs are among the top priorities for transport unions next year.

The AFL-CIO’s Department of Transportation Trades brought together 37 unions on Thursday, including the Airline Pilots’ Association and the Transportation Workers’ Union, to vote on a 2023 advocacy goals program for aviation , transit, marine, rail and other transportation workers. . Labor Secretary Marty Walsh also spoke with the unions and answered questions about their priorities during the closed meeting.

Unions want Congress to ensure the Federal Aviation Administration has the necessary resources for air traffic controllers and passes legislation to help restore sick and unemployment benefits for railroad workers.

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The groups are also urging the Department of Transportation to attach U.S. requirements to all federal infrastructure law spending last year (Public Law 117-58). These requirements have been delayed by some agencies to give grant recipients time to transition from foreign sources.

The agenda “underlines that we have two very busy years ahead of us,” TTD President Greg Regan said after the meeting. “Our agenda is not limited to what we adopted today; these are just the ones that provide a reference.

Aviation Bill

The Biden administration has taken a broadly pro-union stance, but Republican control in one or both houses of Congress could make it harder to push union demands. Lawmakers will likely weigh workers’ priorities as they work on legislation to reauthorize the FAA before the Sept. 30, 2023, deadline.

The disruption of air travel after the pandemic could influence the direction of Congress’s reauthorization. Airlines are largely to blame for recent disruptions in the skies, but the pandemic has also intensified staffing issues for the FAA.

There are 1,000 fewer air traffic controllers today than ten years ago, and more than 10% are eligible for retirement. Unions say this has led to some controllers working six days a week. Their agenda calls for the FAA to better assess its air traffic controller needs and hire 200 more technical operations staff.

Workforce shortages and oversight delays plague FAA ahead of 2023 overhaul

“Serious personnel shortages within technical operations must be addressed by the FAA before something serious happens when the necessary equipment fails and there are not enough technicians available to repair it. “said a union policy statement.

Dave Spero, National President of Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, said he was pleased the request for an increase in technical operations staff was included on the agenda. His group spoke to members of Congress and agency officials about how the staffing level “is becoming a crisis.” Technical operations employees work to maintain navigation and communications and radar technology for pilots and controllers.

Labor groups are also concerned that airlines are misusing visa programs to fill pilot positions “by employing foreign nationals, displacing potential qualified American pilots and cutting American pilots’ pay.” “, reads a policy statement. Unions have proposed that federal agencies change their visa program policies for pilots.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lillianna Byington in washington at lbyington@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sarah Babbage at sbabbage@bgov.com; Angela Greiling Keane at agreilingkeane@bloombergindustry.com

Michael A. Bynum