A leaner union contract had been imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association was not happy about it.
Things had not gone well for NATCA under Republican President George W. Bush. Its perk-filled contract, negotiated in 1998 when Bill Clinton was in the White House, expired in 2003.
After three years of unsuccessful haggling, the FAA in 2006 exercised its ability to impose a new contract on the union, which stripped away many lucrative benefits. It was supposed to be in place until 2012.
Everything changed when President Obama took office in 2009. The union-friendly Democrat had been endorsed by NATCA during his campaign, and, as a senator, had sponsored a bill to force the FAA into binding arbitration over its impasse with the union.