Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he was “outraged” when informed air traffic controllers were falling asleep on the job, and the head of the Federal Aviation Administration and union officials are traveling nationwide to learn if the problem is systemic. LaHood also told CNN’s Candy Crowley Monday controllers are also being advised of “personal responsibility.”
“The administrator and the head of the controller's union are traveling the country this week,” LaHood said. “They’ll be all over the country over the next week talking to controllers, trying to find out if there is something systemic about this — trying to find out about workplace rules —trying to find out if extending the rest one hour, which is what we’ve done over the weekend, is long enough, and really trying to talk to controllers, but also talking to them about personal responsibility.
“Part of it is personal responsibility — showing up, doing your job — and doing it as a well- rested controller,” he said.
Crowley asked whether nine hour between shifts, which is the new directive, is enough rest time, because conceivably the extra hour would be used to travel to-and-from the workplace.
“Well, controllers are the ones I believe that thought that eight would be enough, and that’s why it was included in their contract,” LaHood said. “If nine’s not enough, we’ll do more. But what we expect controllers to do is when they leave the job, and they need rest — and it needs to be a good amount of time to get the kind of rest to come back and work another shift — they should be doing that, like anybody would.
“Like any public service employee would be doing, charged with the safety of people flying around in airplanes and guiding them in and out of airports,” he continued. “What we’ve [also] done is we’ve made sure the controllers don’t try and switch out, so they can get a long weekend. We changed the scheduling, and we’ve also put more supervisors on early in the morning and late at night, to make sure the controllers are doing what they are supposed to be doing.”
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