National Air Traffic Controllers Association sues federal government over frozen pay


    Air traffic control tower at Portland International Airport on Jan. 11, 2019. Photo by KATU photographer Evan Bell

    PORTLAND, Ore. (KATU) – The National Air Traffic Controllers Association is suing the federal government on the 21st day of the partial federal government shutdown.

    The association filed the lawsuit on Jan. 11 on behalf of air traffic controllers across the country who have not been paid due to the shutdown.

    The partial government shutdown began on Dec. 22, 2018. Since then, thousands of workers have been furloughed, which means they have not been able to go to work.

    Others, such as air traffic controllers and the Transportation Security Administration, are considered essential workers and are expected to continue working, even though they won’t receive paychecks until the government reopens.

    "The air traffic controllers, traffic management coordinators, and other excepted aviation safety professionals that NATCA represents remain on the job, dedicated to the safety of every flight, but they don’t know when they will receive their next paycheck. If not for the shutdown, NATCA members would have begun to receive direct deposit of their pay into their accounts as of this morning," the NATCA said in a statement.

    The NATCA is seeking a temporary restraining order against the U.S. government for violating the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. NATCA is accusing the government of unlawfully depriving members of their earned wages without due process. The lawsuit also alleges the federal government has violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay at least the minimum wage to air traffic controllers and other NATCA members who were not furloughed during the shutdown. It also accuses the Federal Aviation Administration of failing to promptly pay overtime to members, which is another violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

    The NATCA is hoping the government will be required to pay its members for the work they've done during the shutdown.


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