Democrats on the House Post Office-Civil Service Committee are working on legislation that would give one-shot cash bonuses to outstanding air traffic control personnel, rather than the flat 6.6 percent raise (retroactive to last August) proposed by the president.
The administration favors giving nearly 10,000 controllers and supervisors the raise, and backs a 5 percent increase for 24,000 other Federal Aviation Administration people involved in maintenance and air safety.
FAA fired 11,400 controllers last August after the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization went out on strike. The air traffic system has been run by nonstriking workers, supervisors, new employes and about 800 military controllers who are still on loan to FAA.
Committee Chairman William Ford (D-Mich.) has strong labor credentials. Although he thinks FAA personnel who stayed on the job have done well, he doesn't like the idea of rewarding all of them with a special raise in addition to whatever other U.S. workers get this October.
Ford is considering a plan to give individual cash bonuses to those who do outstanding work in improving and rebuilding the traffic system. His plan would be much less costly than the retroactive raises the president favors and would not trigger demands from workers in other agencies for special raises. This is still in the talking stage. But it is important talk to FAA people.