The Federal Aviation Administration should use newly approved budget latitude to cancel furloughs for all agency employees, not just air traffic controllers, the head the FAA Managers Association urged Friday. (Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images)
The Federal Aviation Administration should use newly approved budget latitude to cancel furloughs for all agency employees, not just air traffic controllers, the head of the FAA Managers Association urged Friday.
“We work as a team to ensure safe and efficient flight operations and returning only the controllers to work would be divisive and create enormous workforce tension,” David Conley, the association’s president, said in the letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
The letter came shortly after the House approved a bill 361-41 Friday allowing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to transfer up to $253 million from an airport grant program “to prevent reduced operations and staffing” during fiscal 2013 “to ensure a safe and efficient air transportation system.” The Senate had unanimously passed a similar measure Thursday.
Lawmakers rushed the legislation through after the FAA reported around 1,000 daily flight delays since beginning furloughs this week for air traffic controllers and most other employees in response to sequester-related budget cuts. But of the agency’s approximately 47,000 workers, only 15,000 are controllers, said Louis Dupart, executive director of the managers association.
An agency spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment. Dupart said the agency “is sympathetic to taking care of all the employees.” The letter is addressed to Huerta, not LaHood because “he is the person who will be designated to spend the money and end the furloughs,” Dupart said.
The FAA must absorb a $637 million across-the-board budget reduction for fiscal 2013 because of the sequester, which is cutting a total of $85 billion from government spending this year. The newly approved legislation comes a month after lawmakers approved legislation to avoid furloughs for meat inspectors, Transportation Security Administration agents and Border Patrol agents, Joseph Beaudoin, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, said in a statement.
While sequestration was supposed to mean that no agency was spared, “Congress has once again cherry picked ‘winners and losers,’” Beaudoin said. “In so doing, they are denigrating the very essence of government and the role of public service.”