FAA workers to get back pay for furloughs

Federal Aviation Administration employees who were furloughed for nearly two weeks this summer during a congressional impasse over the agency's funding will receive back pay for the time they missed, officials have said. 

About 4,000 FAA workers were placed out-of-work for 13 days when the House and Senate could not agree on an extension of the agency's funding before it was set to run out in late July. After two weeks of finger-pointed, lawmakers reached an agreement to restore the FAA's funding, but did not address the worker's lost pay.

Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) had introduced a bill to provide reimbursements, but he said late Friday that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood could authorize the back pay without further congressional action. 

LoBiondo cheered the fact that his legislation was no longer necessary. 

"A preventable failure of Congress resulting in significant hardship for thousands of FAA employees has finally been made right," he said in a statement released by his office. "I appreciate Secretary LaHood’s commitment to ensure the furloughed FAA employees, including nearly 650 in South Jersey, were not held at fault for Washington’s dysfunction. 

"After weeks of exploring all legislative options available and repeated conversations with the Secretary, today’s news is certainly welcome and ensures the affected FAA employees receive the respect and thanks they deserve,” he said. 

The FAA Managers Association, which had set up a relief fund for the furlough workers, also applauded the news that back pay was coming for the employees who were temporarily displaced. 

"This is a great outcome for our FAA employees," FAAMA President David Conley said in a statement. "We congratulate and commend Secretary LaHood and Administrator Babbitt for discovering the legal mechanisms to bring the back pay issue to a close. It is the right thing to do."

The partial shutdown of the FAA cost the federal government about $30 million per day in lost sales taxes on airline ticket purchases. 

In addition to the FAA employees who were furloughed, an estimated 70,000 construction workers were said to have been placed out-of-work because more than 200 airport projects were stalled.