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Mr. THOMAS. Even if we get all that is in the Senate bill—and that is the maximum now before Congress—it would be another year or a year and a half. This is so even if we attempt to employ the most experienced men we can get out of the military. Many have completed their military service and been trained as controllers, and some are available. We are changing our training so that one man is trained to turn one bolt, in effect. But I would say we are 12 to 18 months away from daylight under the most favorable action by Congress. Under the most unfavorable action by Congress, we are several years away.
Mr. HAMILTON. Any further questions?
Mr. RUPPE. I believe you mentioned this legislation we are looking at today would help relieve the shortage of controllers ?
Mr. THOMAS. No. The legislation we are looking at today would relieve an inequity to people working overtime. It would not relieve the shortage. They are working overtime, and none have refused to work overtime although they get less than the rate of basic pay. But we think this bill would relieve an inequity. It would not relieve the shortage.
Mr. RUPPE. I think you said under favorable action by Congress it would be 18 months before the shortage would be relieved and under less favorable action it would be several years away?
Mr. THOMAS. Yes; because we would start by closing facilities, and it takes a long time to build them back up.
Mr. RUPPE. Has the agency attempted to train people to meet the needs?
Mr. THOMAS. Yes. It is now pending in the Appropriations Committees. It depends on whether we are restricted on personnel under the Expenditure Control Act. The only direction we have at the moment is to start reducing personnel.
Mr. RUPPE. So no matter what you would like to do as an agency, you are in an inflexible position. You could not hire additional controllers today?
Mr. Thomas. Not today. If the limitation is removed, we could hire them.
Mr. RUPPE. How long does it take to train them?
Mr. RUPPE. If you got a new man in would you put him in Green
Mr. THOMAS. Yes. For example, in Chicago we recently brought in people who lived in Chicago and had military training as controllers. We put them on and they are doing very well.
Mr. RUPPE. Thank you very much.
Mr. THOMAS. Thank you.
Mr. HAMILTON. The next witness is Mr. John F. Griner, president of the American Federation of Government Employees. I see Mr. Griner is not present but his representative is. TESTIMONY OF STEPHEN A. KOCZAK, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
Mr. KoczAK. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Griner is out of town so I should like to be allowed to submit his testimony. My name is Stephen A.
Koczak. I am assistant director of research for the American Federation of Government Emplovees.
Mr. HAMILTON. Please proceed.
Mr. Koczak. There is no more urgent and pressing issue at this moment, so far as the safety and welfare of the traveling American public is concerned, than flight safety. As the national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, representing more than 405,000 Federal employees throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and many foreign posts, I can personally testify that travel in the air is becoming increasingly onerous and dangerous. The situation is rapidly approaching a national crisis.
The safety of the millions of passengers who travel in the air depends primarily on the conscientious and heroic work of the air traffic control employees. Altogether, as of June 30, 1968, there were only 6,803 persons in flight towers responsible for the entire safe, speedy, efficient movement of thousands of commercial, private, and military airplanes through the American skies.
These men and women have performed heroic work. Because of the extreme congestion of the airways and because of the administrative failure to provide enough airports and enough air traffic control personnel, this group of Federal employees, less than 7,000 in number, have had to work hour, upon hour, upon hour of overtime.
Their careful and efficient work and, I think we must clearly say, their heroic devotion to duty both during regular and during overtime hours should have won them the gratitude of the Nation.
It should have. And yet what has happened?
The simple fact is that more than 2,000 of these air traffic control employees actually get less money during their overtime work than they do during their regular 40 hours of normal duty. This is an incontestable and an incredible fact.
This situation, I believe everyone will agree, needs an immediate remedy.
How did such an unacceptable situation arise? The reasons for the existence of this situation are the statutes themselves governing compensation for overtime. They provide that anyone earning more than the minimum of GS-10 salary, currently $9,297 per annum, will be compensated for any overtime worked at the rate of 112 times the minimum GS-10 salary.
Converted into dollar-per-hour terms, the hourly rate for $9.297 is $1.47; 172 times $4.47 is $6.71.
In other words, $6.71 per hour is the maximum any Federal employee can receive for overtime work.
Yet $6.71 is less than the normal straight time hourly rate for any Federal employee who is in the fifth step of GS-12 and for all employees higher than the fifth step of GS-12. Coverted into annual terms, $6.71 is equal to $13,441.
Let us apply these figures to the grade structure of the air traffic control employees actually involved in flight control functions. The following tabulation is by grade and annual salary range.
Annual salary range
41 $19,780 to $25,711. 374 $16,946 to $22,031.
775 $14,409 to $18,729. 1.822 $12.174 to $15,828. 2,183 $10,203 to $13,263. 1, 124 $9,297 to $12,087.
21 $8,462 to $11,000. 286 $7,699 to $10,012. None
177 $6,321 to $8,221.
From the foregoing table it is apparent that approximately 30 to 35 percent of the air traffic control employees receive less per hour for overtime work than for regular normal time work.
Many of these employees, especially the most senior and the most experienced and the most vital to air traffic safety earn as much as $5.75 less for each hour of overtime as for each hour of normal time.
Let us look at some of the kinds of work these men and women perform in their daily work.
The pertinent classification standards of the Civil Service Commission state the following:
Air traffic control work is the work involved in providing for the safe, orderly and rapid movement of air craft through the nation's airspace. To accomplish this, rules have been established to govern flight under various weather conditions and in various areas. Along the Federal airways and in designated control zones, provision has been made for actual "control" of aircraft flight when the weather conditions become bad enough that a pilot cannot rely on a "see and be seen" concept to avoid other aircraft. He flies, then, under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and according to instructions given him by the controller. These keep him separated from all other air craft flying under the same regulations. Pilots may, by filing an IFR flight plan and being given clearance to proceed on a certain route, receive this separation from other IFR traffic even when the weather conditions are not bad. In terminal areas and on certain congested routes, all flights receive control instructions and advice, regardless of weather conditions.
All pilots, whether they choose to fly IFR or VFR (Visual Flight Rules, under which the "see and be seen" concept is applied), may avail themselves also of flight assistance service. This service involves the provision of all information pertinent to flight and is given to all pilots requesting it whether or not they are flying in controlled airspace and regardless of weather conditions.
These control and flight assistance services are conducted through a network of centers, terminal facilities, stations, and combined facilities which are equipped to provide preflight assistance, to monitor the operation of the navigational aids used by pilots in flight, to relay information covering long flights, to provide inflight assistance, to issue control instructions, and to provide emergency service for those lost or in difficulty.
These facilities are linked by a vast interphone network and are assigned radio frequencies for direct contact with pilots in flight. Operations must be conducted at a very high speed and safety will not permit misinterpretation of messages or instructions. For these reasons, standardized codes, symbols, signals and phraseologies for delivery of information have been developed. Where possible, standard control procedures have also been developed.
The largest group of positions in the Air Traffic Control Series is that directly engaged in issuing control instructions and providing flight assistance service to pilots and in administering the day-to-day work at the network of field facilities.
The most important characteristic of all of these positions is a responsibility for life and property, engendered by their responsibility for assuring the safe, orderly, and expeditious movement of air traffic. Another inherent characteristic of all operating, working-level air traffic control positions is a requirement for coordination with other individuals in regard to transfer of information, planning of control actions to avoid conflict with another controller's planned actions, and requests to other positions or facilities for approval of proposed courses of action.
Thus, the ability to communicate clearly, to take into account the plans of other individuals, to assess the effects of current or planned courses of action, and to adapt quickly to rapidly changing situations is important in all of these positions.
In addition to their responsibility for the life and property aboard all civilian planes in the air, the air traffic control employees have an important function in assisting military flights. This function involves responsibility for handling messages concerning the movements of military aircraft, for assuring that these aircraft arrive or are accounted for, and for issuing flight advisories to military aircraft under certain conditions.
In the event of a surprise air attack upon the United States, the alertness of these air traffic control employees might well determine the very survival of the United States.
I believe the foregoing justifies not only time and one-half overtime for these employees, it justifies more.
Yet all that is being asked in the very fine bill, H.R. 18630, introduced by the distinguished chairman of this subcommittee, Congressman Morris K. Udall, is that these employees receive at least the same treatment afforded every private employee in the United States; that is, that they be paid time and one-half for every hour of overtime, with the computation being determined on their own base rate of pay and not on some fixed lesser rate of pay, such as the minimum step of GS-10.
Our organization endorses Congressman Udall's bill, H.R. 18630, and we pledge that we will cooperate in every way to obtain its early passage.
As a concluding footnote, I should like to observe that one important improvement we would like to see in this bill is that its provisions be applied to every department and agency of the Federal Government and not just to the Department of Transportation. If this were done, another continuing inequity and discrimination against fair pas standards for Federal employees would be remedied.
We wish to express once again our appreciation to Congressman Udall and to the other members of this subcommittee for the opportunity to testify on this important and urgent legislation.
Mr. UDALL. Thank you. Any questions?
Mr. HAMILTON. I am interested in your footnote. I wanted to ask a question on that, but first let me say your computations on page showing the number of employees, their grade, and annual salary range, are very helpful and I personally appreciate it very much.
What will be the effect of your footnote request in terms of cost ! Do you have any computations on that at all?
Mr. Koczak. No, sir. Of course what we had primarily in mind, at this stage, is that this bill is an emergency bill. If there is an emergency situation in some other department, with the same conditions involved, the principle of equity should apply to these other persons as well as to controllers confronted with this situation.
I gather your question is directed to the basic matter of whether anybody should be asked to work overtime for less than one and onehalf times his base pay. I imagine this is what the committee is interested in. I think, as a matter of principle, if the concept of comparibility with private industry is applied, we cannot reject that concept simply because a person is a Federal employee. If he would be receiting one and one-half times his base pay in private employment, he
y pued should receive one and one-half times his base pay in Federal i employment.
Mr. HAMILTON. As I understand, there are no exemptions at the present time from this overtime pay limitation?
Mr. Koczak. That is right. Mr. HAMILTON. If this legislation is passed I can see considerable pressure being applied for other exemptions.
Mr. KOCZAK. I should think we would discover people in other departments working under the same kind of stress and strain, and I
am sure our organization would be informed of that. So I think it is je only fair to say the passage of this bill would result in this response,
and we think it should. It is unfair for persons to receive significantly less for overtime pay when they are contributing so much to the national safety.
Mr. UDALL. Will the gentleman yield ? Mr. HAMILTON. Yes. Mr. Udall. Did you hear my philosophical discussion with Mr. Thomas on this?
Mr. KOCZAK. Yes, sir.
Mr. UDALL. What is your response ? Are you in agreement that if we remove the GS-10 ceiling we should have another kind of limitation, or do you think the Assistant Secretary of Transportation should be paid overtime?
Mr. KOCZAK. In principle we think comparability with private industry practices should apply in the Federal Government. Obviously we would prefer a GS-15 limitation to a GS-10 limitation because the inequity is lifted considerably, simply by lifting the level. The lifting of the ceiling would automatically mean the inequity is removed from thousands of people who are in GS-12, step 5, because it is only at this stage the inequity begins to apply. If the ceiling is lifted—and I think it should be to the first step of grade 15—in practical terms you would have achieved what we subscribe to as a matter of principle.
Mr. HAMILTON. Do you have any estimates of the cost to the Government if we do as you suggest?
Mr. KOCZAK. We had drawn up tentative estimates and threw them away because, in theory, when this is applied the inequities correct themselves. I think Congressman Ruppe asked another witness earlier, if there had been planning for this emergency. In a Federal agency there is often little or no planning because by the GS-10 overtime limitation, you can sweat people in Federal employment and get more out of them. In fact, financially, it is better, from a budgetary standpoint, to have people work 60 hours a week. So the controller shortage problem of the FAA might not have arisen at all if we had not had this GS-10 limitation. This is one of the reasons we believe there should be no arbitrary GS levels on overtime. Then, budget people would come to Congress for funds for additional employees and they themselves would put self-enforcing controls on overtime expenditures.
Mr. RUPPE. Do you visualize the need for this exemption of air traffic controllers because they do direct work rather than executive work?
Mr. Koczak. Yes. We have testified on the basis of an important safety factor. All of our people use aircraft mostly now for our travel