WASHINGTON — Nearly half of the nation's air traffic controllers are asking the government to recognize a fledgling union as their bargaining agent, the union said today.
The controllers have been without a union since President Reagan fired 11,400 striking Federal Aviation Administration controllers in 1981.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Assn. said today that it filed 5,800 sign-up cards Monday with the Federal Labor Relations Authority seeking an election to become the controllers' collective bargaining agent.
John Thorton, organizing chief for the new AFL-CIO-affiliated union, said an additional 150 FAA controllers have signed union cards that are still being processed.
30% Have to Sign
Under federal labor relations law, 30% of the controllers have to sign union cards for the labor authority to order an election.
"They've brought in a box of authorization cards, and we will have to examine them with a list of employees from the agency," Bruce Rosenstein, the authority's acting regional director for the Washington area, said today.
"I would hope within the next three weeks or so to determine if there is sufficient support" to order an election, which could be held in three or four months, Rosenstein said.
Thorton, one of the striking controllers fired in 1981, said the effort to organize the new controllers, who replaced the strikers, has been going on for about three years.
Ballots in Spring
"If everything works out," he said, "we could have the (representation election) ballots going out by the end of March or April."
The new union held its founding convention last September in Chicago, and participants drafted a constitution pledging that its members would not strike.