Sentiment may be building in Congress to Pressure the Reagan administration into rehiring air traffic controllers discharged for striking illegally against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) 10 weeks ago.
Two developments in recent days:
*A report by the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee called on the administration and the FAA to rehire dismissed controllers as a way to avoid "serious troubles" for the airline industry by 1983. The report said the government has been "overoptimistic" in its projections of how quickly the air traffic control system can be rebuilt by training replacements for the discharged controllers.
*Rep. William D. Ford (D) of Michigan, chairman of the committee, said in Washington that the airlines are suffering undue hardships because of the strike and the dismissal of union controllers. He said that the industry is quietly urging the administration to negotiate a settlement or to rehire experienced controllers who are willing to return to jobs without a formal settlement.
Congressman Ford said that although the airlines are not saying so publicly, they "are telling us in a very unofficial way that they're hurting very badly.I think the pressure is building up out there.
"In the real world, the people in labor and management resolve their differences without it turning into a permanent problem, and that's what we have now," the Michigan Democrat said.
Since 12,000 controllers struck in early August, more than three-fourths of the volume of pre-strike air traffic had been handled by a reduced work force made up of supervisors, nonstriking controllers, and controllers borrowed from military airfields.
Many of the controllers who struck have indicated a willingness to return to work with an understanding that their grievances about job fatigue and stress, major issues in the walkout, will be acted on by the FAA. The National Transportation Safety Board has just recommended that the government set up a program to detect causes of fatigue and stress among controllers and to suggest ways of alleviating the problems.