WSJ: Ex-Union Leader Is Top Contender To Lead FAA - Sources

This hit the news today. I would like to hear some feedback from pilots about the possible selection of Duane Woerth.

I like the selection... a former union leader running the FAA, and a pilot. I think this is a really good thing... what do you guys think ?

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[ Dow Jones & Company, Inc. · 2008-11-21 ]
By Andy Pasztor and Christopher Conkey, Of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

A one-time union leader is a top contender to head the Federal Aviation Administration, people close to President-elect Barack Obama's transition team said, at a time when smooth labor-management relations will be critical to the agency's modernization plans.

Airline consultant Duane Woerth, who was president of the Air Line Pilots Association from 1999 to 2006, has met with House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D., Minn.) and has his tentative support, according to people familiar with their discussions. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D., W. Va.), who heads an aviation subcommittee, is slated to meet with Mr. Woerth in the next few days.

(This story and related background material will be available on The Wall Street Journal Web site, WSJ.com.)

Stephanie Cutter, spokeswoman for the Obama transition team, declined to comment. Mr. Woerth and the lawmakers couldn't be reached for comment.

People familiar with the matter said the situation remains fluid, no final decision has been made and other candidates still could gain strength. The dynamics also could change if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) pushes aide Robert Herbert for the FAA post.

Separately, Debbie Hersman, a current Democratic member of the National Transportation Safety Board, is likely to be nominated to be its next chairwoman, according to people familiar with the matter. Labor groups are also enthused that former FAA Administrator Jane Garvey, a senior member of Mr. Obama's transition team overseeing aviation issues, remains a leading candidate to head the Transportation Department.

Mr. Woerth, who was a Northwest Airlines pilot and then went to work advising company officials in the carrier's Washington D.C. office, has the strong backing of various labor groups, including more than two dozen transportation- trade unions, seeking to cash in political chits for aggressively supporting Mr. Obama during the campaign. But Mr. Woerth, who frequently prodded the agency to step up air-safety efforts, also has garnered bipartisan endorsements on Capitol Hill and enjoys the backing of some aircraft makers and airline-industry officials.

The FAA job traditionally goes to an industry executive, high-ranking military officer or government official. No union leader has had the top job since at least the 1960s. But the agency is embroiled in protracted negotiations with the union representing air-traffic controllers, and labor peace is widely seen as a prerequisite to upgrading the nation's air-traffic system.

The union that represents the FAA's 15,000 controllers scored a big contract win when Ms. Garvey led the agency in 1998. Five years later, relations between the union and the Bush administration started to deteriorate when it came time to negotiate a new contract.

Amid a rancorous impasse in 2006, then-Sen. Barack Obama sponsored legislation that would strip away the FAA's ability to impose labor rules and force the two sides into arbitration. The measure failed to pass, and the FAA imposed new work rules and pay requirements on the air traffic controllers union.

Frustrated by what they characterize as authoritarian work environments and less-generous pay scales - the typical new hire makes 30% less under the FAA's imposed terms - many veteran controllers have opted to retire in recent years. This has exacerbated a turnover problem that the FAA long anticipated. The agency is now in a major campaign to hire and train new controllers.

Earlier this year, the House passed legislation that would require the two sides to enter arbitration to settle their dispute. But the Senate version, which only addressed labor spats in the future, failed to pass.

However, the election of Mr. Obama has boosted morale and halted attrition for time being, NATCA says. "We are seeing a lot of controllers saying, 'You know what, I'm going to wait this out and see what happens next year,'" said Doug Church, a NATCA spokesman. "This was a candidate that had been friendly to them."

Other action items on the incoming FAA chief's plate include initiatives to reduce pilot fatigue in the cockpit and to enhance oversight of aircraft maintenance - particularly work outsourced to foreign shops. Rep. Oberstar, who has close ties to some labor groups and whose influence in these areas is bound to increase in the next administration, also is supporting a top aide, Clay Foushee, for a possible senior FAA slot, according to people familiar with the matter.

By far the biggest issue confronting the agency, however, is the slow-moving transition to new air-traffic control technology, a process dubbed "NextGen" by the agency. The goal is to replace the aging, radar-based infrastructure relied on by air traffic controllers today with a satellite-based network that give a much more precise read on the location of planes in the sky. That will allow planes to fly closer together, the thinking goes, reducing delays, saving fuel and enabling more flights at into and out of busy airports.

"At an age when teenage drivers use GPS systems in their cars, air traffic controllers still use World War II-era radar to guide modern jumbo jets," said President George W. Bush on Wednesday. "That doesn't seem to make any sense to me."

Mr. Bush signed an executive order on Wednesday directing the many federal agencies involved in the NextGen transition to make it a high priority, but current government forecasts suggest the new system won't be up and running nationwide before 2020. Mr. Obama and his picks to head the FAA and Transportation Department may try to speed up the process, but many obstacles exist. Already, airlines are opposing the first major NextGen rulemaking by the FAA, obligating airlines to equip their jets with advance transmission technology.

Legislation that would set up a reliable, multi-year funding stream for NextGen failed to clear Congress this year, scuttled partly by disagreements over cost sharing among carriers, business aircraft and private pilots.
 

Trip7

Well-Known Member
Re: WSJ: Ex-Union Leader Is Top Contender To Lead FAA - Sour

Oh my goodness this would be wonderful if true!

The outdated rest requirements would be history!
 

Seggy

Well-Known Member
Re: WSJ: Ex-Union Leader Is Top Contender To Lead FAA - Sour

From what I have been told, Biden is behind this who has supported ALPA 100% over his Senate career in his voting record.

:)
 

surreal1221

Well-Known Member
Re: WSJ: Ex-Union Leader Is Top Contender To Lead FAA - Sour

From what I have been told, Biden is behind this who has supported ALPA 100% over his Senate career in his voting record.

:)
This is some of the best news I'e read in a while.

Hope it comes to fruition though.
 

Bigey

Well-Known Member
Re: WSJ: Ex-Union Leader Is Top Contender To Lead FAA - Sour

Bring it!!!!!!


:rawk: :rawk: :rawk:

Union understanding people in the FAA is awesome for the aviation world ACROSS the board, not just pilots!
 

WacoFan

Bigly
Re: WSJ: Ex-Union Leader Is Top Contender To Lead FAA - Sour

Please tell me what he will be able to do as the head of the FAA to help advance airpline pilot/union causes. Is there any way he can effect the downward spiral on he quality of the airline pilot career? If so, how?
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
Re: WSJ: Ex-Union Leader Is Top Contender To Lead FAA - Sour

Because he's a pilot that's actually worked under the (oft) half-baked and half-thought regulations of the FAA. Also, even though I wasn't a fan of Woerth, he's at least not an arbitrarily & hastily chosen appointee.
 
Re: WSJ: Ex-Union Leader Is Top Contender To Lead FAA - Sour

I appreciate all the info... on the ATC side our problem is really an easy fix, I think if nothing else the man will be fair. I think he is an interesting choice and like Obama has the potential to be a very progressive leader. Many people named to that position are lifetime political hacks... this is a possible stepp in a new direction for the FAA.
 

Maurus

The Great Gazoo
Re: WSJ: Ex-Union Leader Is Top Contender To Lead FAA - Sour

Bring it!!!!!!


:rawk: :rawk: :rawk:

Union understanding people in the FAA is awesome for the aviation world ACROSS the board, not just pilots!

That will only be true if he doesn't push user fees like a lot of union people here want.
 

MQAAord

Scheherazade
Staff member
Re: WSJ: Ex-Union Leader Is Top Contender To Lead FAA - Sour

Eh, I'm not terribly hot to him..... he's got one thing going for him, and that's that he's actually a pilot and has worked in aviation. Unlike other appointees to this position.

However, he was personally opposed to the FFDO program and had to be forced by the membership of ALPA to support the program. Also he refused after 9/11 to release contingency funds. Because, you know, 9/11 wasn't worthy of that.... I guess....

So he's better than some alternatives, but I don't really like him that much.
 

WacoFan

Bigly
Re: WSJ: Ex-Union Leader Is Top Contender To Lead FAA - Sour

PCL seems to like Woerth, while Doug and Amber do not. Many dislike Prater. Is this a matter of pilots mostly not liking whoever is in charge of ALPA, or is their more substance to it? What are the pros-cons of Woerth in terms of how he ran ALPA? Also, what are "contingency funds" as mentioned by Amber? Thanks in advance.
 

JoelT

Well-Known Member
Re: WSJ: Ex-Union Leader Is Top Contender To Lead FAA - Sour

PCL seems to like Woerth, while Doug and Amber do not. Many dislike Prater. Is this a matter of pilots mostly not liking whoever is in charge of ALPA, or is their more substance to it? What are the pros-cons of Woerth in terms of how he ran ALPA? Also, what are "contingency funds" as mentioned by Amber? Thanks in advance.
I think both Duane and John are both good men. I personally know them and have worked with them. I am pretty excited about Duane possibly being at the top of the FAA solely based on his views on flight-time/duty-time regulations (that currently they are archaic).

As far as the deal with Duane and the FFDO program is concerned I think that speaks to his strengths. Yes, he personally was against the idea of having pilots with guns. But, after he was shown the positives and the polling data he became a staunch advocate of the program.

I am not sure what Amber means about releasing funds from the MCF account (Major Contingency Fund). That account is there to support a striking pilot group or other job action. All of the MECs had plenty of cash to operate during and after 911. My LEC at the time (LEC175 IAH XJT) actually had way more money than we needed and ended up giving most of it back. And, this was during prolonged contract negotiations.

As far as why many pilots don't like either DW or JP is that they are easy targets. Some folks can't imagine that management might actually be way more powerful than us :sarcasm:.
 

Firebird2XC

Well-Known Member
Re: WSJ: Ex-Union Leader Is Top Contender To Lead FAA - Sour

... and some said that having Obama in the White House wouldn't help this industry!

Having an ex-ALPA President as head of the FAA can only be good.

I love America. :rawk::rawk:
 

SlumTodd_Millionaire

Evil Landlord Capitalist
Re: WSJ: Ex-Union Leader Is Top Contender To Lead FAA - Sour

My sources tell me that Duane is also one of Obama's top choices for his first NMB appointment if he doesn't get the FAA Chief gig. I would be thrilled with either appointment.

Please tell me what he will be able to do as the head of the FAA to help advance airpline pilot/union causes. Is there any way he can effect the downward spiral on he quality of the airline pilot career? If so, how?
All of the safety rules we've wanted to change for years would finally be doable. Flight/duty time changes would be within reach for the first time.

I appreciate all the info... on the ATC side our problem is really an easy fix, I think if nothing else the man will be fair. I think he is an interesting choice and like Obama has the potential to be a very progressive leader. Many people named to that position are lifetime political hacks... this is a possible stepp in a new direction for the FAA.
For you guys on the ATC side, Duane would be your best friend. He's had a close relationship with NATCA for years.

However, he was personally opposed to the FFDO program and had to be forced by the membership of ALPA to support the program.
Duane had reasonable objections, although I personally disagreed with him. But in the end, he went with what the membership wanted, which is exactly what a union leader should do. I'm not seeing the problem here.

Also he refused after 9/11 to release contingency funds. Because, you know, 9/11 wasn't worthy of that.... I guess....
What contingency funds are you referring to? The MCF?

PCL seems to like Woerth, while Doug and Amber do not. Many dislike Prater. Is this a matter of pilots mostly not liking whoever is in charge of ALPA, or is their more substance to it? What are the pros-cons of Woerth in terms of how he ran ALPA? Also, what are "contingency funds" as mentioned by Amber? Thanks in advance.
Yes, I was a Duane supporter at the '06 BOD when Prater was elected. I didn't believe, and I still don't believe, that Prater has the experience and skill set to lead ALPA. His many huge blunders over the past two years have demonstrated that, in my opinion. He does have his positives, though. He's a huge supporter of organizing, and as someone who's an organizer at heart, that means a lot to me. Prater convinced the EC to release $5 million from the MCF for organizing activities, and that's something that Duane probably never would have done. There are some other things on the organizing front coming up soon that Prater has supported, and I'm grateful for that.

Duane made ALPA into the powerhouse that it is today on Cap Hill, and that will benefit us greatly over the next few years with Obama and the Dems in power. Politics and legislation were always Duane's best areas of expertise. He was also a huge supporter of the B-carriers. The regional MECs were able to thrive under Duane's leadership, something that had never happened before in ALPA. The support that we received from him was incredible.

Both men have their pluses and minuses, but I'll always believe that Duane was better suited for the position. Think about this: under Duane's leadership, ALPA's membership rolls expanded by the thousands. Under Prater's leadership in just the first two years, ALPA has shrunk by 10,000 members. And that is in spite of his increase in organizing activities. That's not a good legacy to leave behind, and I certainly hope he's able to right the ship before he leaves office in '11.
 

tonyw

Well-Known Member
Re: WSJ: Ex-Union Leader Is Top Contender To Lead FAA - Sour

You can't tell me there isn't a world of difference between this potential appointee and the jokers who have been at the FAA under the current administration.

Well, you could, but I'd just laugh at you because saying so is, well, laughable.
 

WacoFan

Bigly
Re: WSJ: Ex-Union Leader Is Top Contender To Lead FAA - Sour

Under Prater's leadership in just the first two years, ALPA has shrunk by 10,000 members. And that is in spite of his increase in organizing activities. That's not a good legacy to leave behind, and I certainly hope he's able to right the ship before he leaves office in '11.
Yes, but around half or a little more than half was USAir/USAPA - can that really be blamed on Prater? Who else have they lost that made up the remaining 5,000? That actually surprises me - I thought that USAPA was the bulk of any union losses.
 

SlumTodd_Millionaire

Evil Landlord Capitalist
Re: WSJ: Ex-Union Leader Is Top Contender To Lead FAA - Sour

Yes, but around half or a little more than half was USAir/USAPA - can that really be blamed on Prater?
Yes, I blame a lot of it on Prater. I believe he could have done a much better job on mediating a compromise between the two groups after the Nic Award created chaos.

Who else have they lost that made up the remaining 5,000? That actually surprises me - I thought that USAPA was the bulk of any union losses.
A lot of the loss can be attributed to pilots not accepting recall to their ALPA carriers and staying at their non-ALPA or even non-union jobs that they got after being furloughed following 9/11. That can't be blamed on Prater, but the AAA/AWA losses can be, and the losses of Atlas and Polar will soon take place, something else that can be blamed on him, in my opinion. I think Duane would have had a much better shot of preventing these messes. He was a much better politician and mediator in such disputes.
 

WacoFan

Bigly
Re: WSJ: Ex-Union Leader Is Top Contender To Lead FAA - Sour

Yes, I blame a lot of it on Prater. I believe he could have done a much better job on mediating a compromise between the two groups after the Nic Award created chaos.



A lot of the loss can be attributed to pilots not accepting recall to their ALPA carriers and staying at their non-ALPA or even non-union jobs that they got after being furloughed following 9/11. That can't be blamed on Prater, but the AAA/AWA losses can be, and the losses of Atlas and Polar will soon take place, something else that can be blamed on him, in my opinion. I think Duane would have had a much better shot of preventing these messes. He was a much better politician and mediator in such disputes.
Yes...but they will get Colgan soon!

Why are they losing Polar/Atlas?
 

ATLTRACON

MODERATOR
Re: WSJ: Ex-Union Leader Is Top Contender To Lead FAA - Sour

Please oh Please oh Please. This is what I want for Christmas...that and Jane Garvey as the head of the DOT.
 
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