Bishop fights to save and create local jobs

Karen Rubin
The Examiner

Long Island's Congressional delegation, Carolyn McCarthy, Congressmen Peter King, Steve Israel and Tim Bishop, joined by the Association for a Better Long Island (ABLI) and members of the region’s aviation, business, labor and educational communities, today vowed to oppose plans that would see the FAA relocate key air traffic control centers off Long Island.

Standing before the gates of the FAA TRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control), 1515 Stewart Avenue, Garden City, Jan Burman, President of the ABLI, stated, “Long Island has learned the hard way. You don’t let talented, high paying jobs leave the region. They never come back.”

Burman noted that the FAA’s proposal would put a significant economic drain on Long Island.

“An estimated 900 jobs paying an average of $100,000 would be lost to other regions if the FAA proceeds with its relocation plan. If this recession has taught us anything it is that Long Island cannot afford to lose these types of skilled, well paid, positions. These jobs are part of the high-tech skill set we are known and respected for and losing them to other parts of the state or nation would be strategically harmful.”

Dr. Thomas Conoscenti, an economist for the ABLI, said the region would lose some $198 million if the FAA’s plan to relocate its air traffic control centers off Long Island is implemented.

Long Island’s Congressional Delegation Speaks as One

“We’re very concerned about the local jobs at stake here -- Long Island’s rich aviation history and pool of skilled workers make it the perfect place for air traffic control of our region’s airports and we’re fighting to make sure that workers aren’t displaced," Congresswoman McCarthy stated. "It could also be cheaper for the FAA and for taxpayers to use existing workers rather than to relocate or train new ones, making Long Island a win-win location for everyone.”

Congressman King told the gathering, "As I have repeatedly communicated to the FAA, it is essential that the new facility be built on Long Island. It is not only cost effective, it is imperative that the controllers and personnel who have made their lives on Long Island not be forced to uproot their families. These jobs must stay on Long Island."

Congressman Israel said, “I’m here today to send a message to the FAA that it’s common sense for the new integrated Air Traffic Control system for New York’s Airports to be on Long Island. Not only will the new facility create more than 1,000 construction jobs and retain more than 850 highly-skilled FAA jobs in our region, but it will also reinforce critical transportation infrastructure in New York. We shouldn’t move the facility to a location where the highly-skilled workers needed to fill these jobs are not guaranteed. The Long Island delegation is coming together to fight to have these jobs and the innovative new hub on Long Island.”

Congressman Bishop stated, “This is about standing up for thousands of middle class air traffic control and construction jobs that depend on FAA making the right call and build here in Long Island and I have already spoken directly with the Secretary of Transportation and acting FAA Administrator about this critical issue,” said Congressman Tim Bishop. “I will continue to assert my leadership and work with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to make the strongest possible case for Long Island as the most cost-effective and appropriate location for the FAA’s new integrated control facility.”

Identifying Locations for a New Center

ABLI’s past president Ed Blumenfeld said there are a number of locations on Long Island where the FAA could consolidate their operations for the 21st Century. “Options include Mitchel Field in Nassau County, the former Pilgrim Psychiatric Center in Islip and the Calverton property that once was the home of the Tomcat F-14 fighter. Clearly, an audit of available property will demonstrate there are areas that could accommodate the facility the FAA is considering. By doing so we would prevent the dislocation of hundreds of families, the loss of jobs and the enormous cost of relocation.”

Marc Herbst, Executive Director of the Long Island Contractors’ Association (LICA) and Bill Duffy, president of the Public Works Alliance (PWA) issued a joint statement supporting the efforts of the region’s Congressional delegation. “The slow and steady hemorrhage of talented people from Long Island has to stop. In addition, the creation of new federal infrastructure that directly supports our air transportation industry belongs here. We are proud to stand with members of the ABLI and our members of Congress to achieve these strategic goals.”