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Privatizing ATC, where does the saving come from?

DogwoodDogwood MemberPosts: 63 Member
I read an article this morning from our work's daily news clippings that said that Rep. Bill Schuster (R-Pa) is introducing a new bill to privatize air traffic control, moving it out of the FAA into a non-profit ... here is an excerpt ...

that US House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) on Wednesday introduced a new bill that takes a “supposedly friendlier approach to moving air traffic control (ATC) out of the FAA and into a federally chartered, non-profit organization.” The proposed bill, the 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization Act, would include a 13-member board composed of “a CEO, two at-large directors chosen by the other represented parties, two directors chosen by the US Department of Transportation, and one director each for major airlines, cargo carriers, regional aviation, GA, business aviation, ATC, airports and commercial pilots.” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao would be responsible for selecting “all but the independent members from lists of 6-10 nominees from each sector.”

What I'm not seeing is where the cost savings comes from? I'm left to think this is smoke and mirrors on the part of the administration. Your thoughts? Any of you smart folks have any insights on where the savings are supposed to be injected? I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the matter.

Best regards,
Scott

Replies

  • ricinusricinus Senior Member Posts: 6,214 Senior Member
    Hi Scott,

    We went through privatization in Canada in 1996. Nav Canada, a not for profit corporation, was formed along the lines proposed in the US. While there were some initial growing pains the result was impressive. Our whole ATC and Nav system has been upgraded to state of the art, most employees have seen there employment conditions improved, the bureaucracy has been greatly reduced, and we no longer had government interference in operations. More than 2 billion dollars has been returned to industry with more on the way due to efficiencies across the North Atlantic. Employee pensions were transferred to the new Corporation and out of Government control.

    I retired in 2005 so I'm not really up to date, but I do know the current employees are happy with the new corporation and the working environment is continually being improved..

    Cheers.

    Mike
    My new goal in life is to become an Alter Kaker...
  • George KGeorge K Super Moderator Posts: 10,500 Senior Member
    A better question is why is the current system in such bad shape? The answer is that Congress has not been willing to authorize funds to maintain and improve it. As always, this leads to much worse problems down the road.

    A semi-independent corporation might be a better solution, but how will the flying public react to the inevitable fare increases because of fees needed for the upgrade? And how will they react when the skies go silent when the controllers go on strike? Were these issues in Canada?
    Keep your stinkin' government hands off my Medicare.
  • ricinusricinus Senior Member Posts: 6,214 Senior Member
    George K wrote: »
    A better question is why is the current system in such bad shape? The answer is that Congress has not been willing to authorize funds to maintain and improve it. As always, this leads to much worse problems down the road.

    A semi-independent corporation might be a better solution, but how will the flying public react to the inevitable fare increases because of fees needed for the upgrade? And how will they react when the skies go silent when the controllers go on strike? Were these issues in Canada?

    Controllers are considered an essential service and are restricted in their right to strike. IIRC airfares did not rise significantly and costs were covered by increased efficiencies.. Airline operating costs dropped and some of the savings worked down to the airfare level..

    Mike
    My new goal in life is to become an Alter Kaker...
  • George KGeorge K Super Moderator Posts: 10,500 Senior Member
    ricinus wrote: »
    Controllers are considered an essential service and are restricted in their right to strike. IIRC airfares did not rise significantly and costs were covered by increased efficiencies.. Airline operating costs dropped and some of the savings worked down to the airfare level..

    Mike

    Interesting. I hope the same would happen here should privatization come to pass.
    Keep your stinkin' government hands off my Medicare.
  • EugeneEugene Member Posts: 50 Member
    George K wrote: »
    Interesting. I hope the same would happen here should privatization come to pass.

    When Canadian law limits the right to strike it imposes other conditions, such as binding arbitration of contract disputes and income protections pending disciplinary reviews. The American federal government has never done that as far as I know. Which means that when you say you hope the right to strike would be limited, you're really saying "I hope those private sector air traffic controllers are wiling to accept whatever employment conditions their new semi-public corporate masters decide is best for them." But I know what you're saying. None of us wants our air travel plans interrupted because some workers got uppity and actually refused to work until their demands for safety improvements or livable wages were met.
  • ricinusricinus Senior Member Posts: 6,214 Senior Member
    Eugene wrote: »
    When Canadian law limits the right to strike it imposes other conditions, such as binding arbitration of contract disputes and income protections pending disciplinary reviews. The American federal government has never done that as far as I know. Which means that when you say you hope the right to strike would be limited, you're really saying "I hope those private sector air traffic controllers are wiling to accept whatever employment conditions their new semi-public corporate masters decide is best for them." But I know what you're saying. None of us wants our air travel plans interrupted because some workers got uppity and actually refused to work until their demands for safety improvements or livable wages were met.

    Not really Eugene, not all employees are considered essential so some do have the right to strike. Binding arbitration only occurs if both parties agree to it or it is mandated by the Government for a specific contract duration and there are no income protections that I am aware of. Apart from "work to rule" there is no incentive to take illegal strike action, Ronnie Raygun took care of that.. As for forced working conditions, it was tried in the early years of privatization with less that stellar results..

    Mike
    My new goal in life is to become an Alter Kaker...
  • EugeneEugene Member Posts: 50 Member
    ricinus wrote: »
    Not really Eugene, not all employees are considered essential so some do have the right to strike. Binding arbitration only occurs if both parties agree to it or it is mandated by the Government for a specific contract duration and there are no income protections that I am aware of. Apart from "work to rule" there is no incentive to take illegal strike action, Ronnie Raygun took care of that.. As for forced working conditions, it was tried in the early years of privatization with less that stellar results..

    Mike

    I don't think you read that very carefully. When employees are deemed essential and thus prohibited from striking they are then provided protections such as binding arbitration. I was not implying that all Canadian workers have the right to binding arbitration of contract terms, in fact, I was pretty clearly stating it was an exception to the norm. CATCA and NAV Canada are also a pretty unique combination. Police, firefighters, and other "essential service" providers do have compulsory interest arbitration. I think the same is true of some public employees in the states who cannot strike, but that's under state law, the equivalent of provincial law.
  • ricinusricinus Senior Member Posts: 6,214 Senior Member
    Now that you've explained your comment, I see what you are saying. The CATCA and Nav Canada situation is somewhat unique, but I fail to see why this wouldn't work in the US.. Your statement that working conditions would be arbitrarily imposed by the employer is what I object to..

    Mike
    My new goal in life is to become an Alter Kaker...
  • EugeneEugene Member Posts: 50 Member
    ricinus wrote: »
    Now that you've explained your comment, I see what you are saying. The CATCA and Nav Canada situation is somewhat unique, but I fail to see why this wouldn't work in the US.. Your statement that working conditions would be arbitrarily imposed by the employer is what I object to..

    Mike

    Because US employers simply are not like Canadian employers. If NAV Canada ever got too aggressive with CATCA, CATCA would appeal to the people and to the political leadership, and NAV Canada would be soundly pilloried. If the US equivalent cut wages and benefits and demanded longer work hours, and claimed (even falsely) that the changes would be completely safe and would lower airfares, the same people who elected a ferret-headed shitweasel would go right along with that.

    If you're going to tell a bunch of workers that they are not allowed to stop working, then you damned well owe them another way to resolve their differences. NAV Canada has done so by agreeing to interest arbitration (which, as I recall, has been invoked a few times). American politicians would never agree to that, which is why if this idea were to fly, and George were to get his way about preventing strikes, you can count on creating a circumstance where the air traffic controllers have to put up with whatever the ATC authority tells them they have to put up with.
  • ricinusricinus Senior Member Posts: 6,214 Senior Member
    Eugene wrote: »
    a ferret-headed shitweasel

    Ah ha, another clue..

    Mike
    My new goal in life is to become an Alter Kaker...
  • George KGeorge K Super Moderator Posts: 10,500 Senior Member
    Eugene wrote: »
    When Canadian law limits the right to strike it imposes other conditions, such as binding arbitration of contract disputes and income protections pending disciplinary reviews. The American federal government has never done that as far as I know. Which means that when you say you hope the right to strike would be limited, you're really saying "I hope those private sector air traffic controllers are wiling to accept whatever employment conditions their new semi-public corporate masters decide is best for them." But I know what you're saying. None of us wants our air travel plans interrupted because some workers got uppity and actually refused to work until their demands for safety improvements or livable wages were met.

    I was referring to the overall improvement and lower fares, not the working conditions of the controllers - should have been more specific.

    You sound like someone who never has been stranded away from home or seen people die because transit workers, ambulance drivers or health care professionals went on strike or were working to rule. You also assume that a n-f-p corporation would impose Dickensian terms on workers, and also quite possibly ignore the fact that outside of a relatively few large cities Federal pay is quite competitive.

    Certitude is your most obvious personality trait, aside from bitterness.
    Keep your stinkin' government hands off my Medicare.
  • ricinusricinus Senior Member Posts: 6,214 Senior Member
    Eugene wrote: »
    Because US employers simply are not like Canadian employers. If NAV Canada ever got too aggressive with CATCA, CATCA would appeal to the people and to the political leadership, and NAV Canada would be soundly pilloried. If the US equivalent cut wages and benefits and demanded longer work hours, and claimed (even falsely) that the changes would be completely safe and would lower airfares, the same people who elected a ferret-headed shitweasel would go right along with that.

    If you're going to tell a bunch of workers that they are not allowed to stop working, then you damned well owe them another way to resolve their differences. NAV Canada has done so by agreeing to interest arbitration (which, as I recall, has been invoked a few times). American politicians would never agree to that, which is why if this idea were to fly, and George were to get his way about preventing strikes, you can count on creating a circumstance where the air traffic controllers have to put up with whatever the ATC authority tells them they have to put up with.

    I think the fair treatment of workers is due to our multiparty system of government. If you have a voice representing workers- in our case the NDP- any high handed nonsense is given lots of coverage in the Press and Parliament..

    Mike
    My new goal in life is to become an Alter Kaker...
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 8,393 Senior Member
    ricinus wrote: »
    Ah ha, another clue..

    Mike
    Now MonkeyDoes uses the similar s***gibbon on facebook.

    Eugene. Have you ever pranced around in a trout suit? How many times have you watched "Anatomy of a Murder?" How do you feel about NASA probing Uranus?
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • Shawn C.Shawn C. Senior Member Posts: 7,027 Senior Member
    The not-for-profit idea may work. I've done a bit of reading about this and it seems a good compromise between what we have now and what the GOP has wanted for a long time: privatization.
    The costs of upgrading the infrastructure (navigational and landing aids) will be enormous and as George said, would have been underway if it were not more important for GOP lawmakers to give tax cuts to Mr. and Mrs. Jobcreator. But whatever. My fear, and I'm not using that word lightly, is that this may be a stepping stone towards for-profit privatization. That is not working so well. Talk about disgruntled employees and lousy working conditions!

    From what I've read the initial cost of infrastructure improvements would be passed on to the air traveling public. I don't know how I feel about that.

    Also, the advisory board is going to have to include military aviators or aviation experts as well. They have a huge stake in this also.

    Of all of the things Trump & Co. have proposed this is the one I probably have the least opposition to at this point.
  • EugeneEugene Member Posts: 50 Member
    Shawn C. wrote: »

    Of all of the things Trump & Co. have proposed this is the one I probably have the least opposition to at this point.

    This isn't the Trump proposal, Trump just wants to privatize. This is an alternative proposal from a Republican Senator.
  • Shawn C.Shawn C. Senior Member Posts: 7,027 Senior Member
    I see. Thanks for clarification.
  • DogwoodDogwood Member Posts: 63 Member
    Thanks for the discussion, Gents. I'm still struggling to see where the savings come from. I tend to agree with George that the primary reason we don't have NexGen or the upgraded tech systems already in place is because we can't seem to get congress to fund the costs. Maybe those projects are easier to implement with semi-privatized? ATCs, though honestly I'm not sure where making the ATCs into a non-profit is going to enable that funding source ... seems to me like all they'll be doing is passing along the cost of those upgrades to the travelling public, or back to congress in the form of funding requests to implement the upgrades.

    SP
  • ricinusricinus Senior Member Posts: 6,214 Senior Member
    Dogwood wrote: »
    though honestly I'm not sure where making the ATCs into a non-profit is going to enable that funding source ... seems to me like all they'll be doing is passing along the cost of those upgrades to the travelling public, or back to congress in the form of funding requests to implement the upgrades.

    SP

    Basically it becomes user pay. The users being Airlines, General Av, Military, and the travelling public. Exorbitant increases have not been the case and most users saw a reduction in fees.. It is no longer a burden on taxpayers..

    Mike
    My new goal in life is to become an Alter Kaker...

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