Until 1992, the nationwide civil air traffic control was carried out in Germany by a federal agency, known as the Federal Administration of Air Navigation (BFS). For 40 years, civil servants who were also members of the German Association of Flight Director (VDF) had had a professional association and had a lot of influence on the professional and technical development of air traffic control, but so far had no trade union representation. Much the same applied to the members of the former FTI (Association of German air traffic control technicians and engineers). For this reason, a cooperation agreement was made with DAG (Deutsche Angestellten-Gewerkschaft).
In the years 2001 and 2002, however, it became increasingly difficult to convince the DAG about the specific concerns of the members of VDF and FTI in collective bargaining. This led to several situations in which "our" trade union (DAG) tried to deny the substitution or attempted to impose inferior claims or labour agreements.
For the first time, a widespread dissatisfaction with the collective bargaining representation by the DAG arose among the members. Also, the merging of several trade unions creating the largest union in Germany, Ver.di, was regarded by many members with suspicion.
For editorial reasons and to ensure legal certainty, the existing cooperation agreements had to be renegotiated. The decision-making within the associations had progressed so far that in the spring of 2002, the directors of VDF and FTI were ready for negotiations with Ver.di on the revision of the treaties.
The six months of negotiations with Ver.di were tough and did not lead to the desired results. At the end of September it was clear that Ver.di was not only a lot less flexible than the former DAG, but quite obviously did not want to engage in equal cooperation of associations. Consequently, Ver.di gave the executive decision not to sign the negotiated compromise on 30.09.2002.
Seeing that both the negotiating mandate of the chairmen had expired and any hope of a satisfactory outcome to the negotiations had become illusory, the organisations postponed the cooperation agreements to 31.12.2003.
The next round of collective bargaining for DFS led to the exclusion of the representatives of VDF and FTI, which led to a negative result for all employees. This was the final proof for those who, until then, were unaware that there was an alternative to a national air traffic control union.