From the President's Pen

Deja Vu all Over Again

John Carr
C90 President

I started this article thinking, "Let's do something Presidential!" When I realized I couldn't order my Local into Bosnia or bring O'Hare to a screeching halt while I got a haircut, I thought, "I'll do a 'State of the Union' address!" Well, the only network that would carry it was Spice and they wanted a 'State of the Union Undress', so I decided to do this lousy year in review piece.

Last December found us, well, right where we are today: freezing our collective buns off in Chicago, Illinois. We put out a fine Christmas ILB, full of information and news you won't find anywhere else. There was a liberal dose of humor, too, and most of those we tweaked took it in the spirit with which it was intended. Whatever that means! We were working to get PCS funds for people to move prior to the cutover to the new facility in late 1996, thinking foolishly that it might make sense to spread those moves out over a longer period of time to lessen the impact. Boy, were we stupid.

January was a pretty cool month. We discovered an FAA document that basically said it was more costly to build MCF's than traditional TRACONs. We fired that puppy over to Senator Simon's office, and the next thing you know Milwaukee, Rockford and South Bend aren't moving to Elgin, after all. Funny how that worked. We got paid our night differential settlement, a tidy hundred bucks or so per member. In Chicago that won't even get you a Bulls game on TV, much less a ticket to the event. I think most people ended up drinking theirs.

February, and Ray was off to Vegas for the big privatization hoe-down. Or was that January? Still groggy from the night dif settlement, I guess. Anyway, it was a big thing then. Ray fires off a letter on PCS with words like, "lip service" and "grave injustice." Still waiting. The ILB comes out, with hilarious pictures of Chicago Center as a Mayan ruin and Joe Bellino's famous 'Pelicans Brief'.

March blows in, and the FAA is hedging on a child care facility for Elgin. Like the genius he is, Ray writes our good friend to inform him of the great news: it was unanimously agreed to name the proposed building, "The Senator Paul Simon Child Care Facility." All of a sudden this puppy's on the fast track. I am really getting excited about politics, Chicago-style. Oh. The FAA does a full facility evaluation. Yaaaaaawn.

April Fools! That's what we were, still waiting for PCS funds. We correspond with a new friend, Mr. Donald Fowler of the DNC. With his convention coming to town in August of 1996, we want him to know where we stand. He was not amused, and wanted to be kept informed of any changes that might adversely impact the big party. Hmmmmm.

I think the temperature is above freezing to stay which is nice. Since it's May. Nothing else happened. We dropped a ULP on the Agency, I think, and they did a full facility evaluation. Apparently the one in March was a drill. Oh, and somebody said something about our 5%. Yeah. OK. Right. Take it.

It's now June you can tell by the orange barrels that turn every expressway in the Chicagoland area into a two-lane dirt road. Travel times now average, and I'm not making this up, three months. There's a new sheriff in town, and if memory serves me correctly I immediately go completely down the dumper and haven't been seen or heard from since. The first seven PCS orders are cut, a short two and one half years after we first requested them. We leaflet the terminals. We negotiate some local issues. We put out an ILB with more wacko transmissions. We see Ray playing cards and laughing to himself. We help out in DC on several national issues. We write letters. We get letters. We punch Ray in the mouth for giving us the pager. Hey, everybody, look at me! I'm a FacRep! Grrrrrrr.......

July and the calls of congratulations are still coming in for new Union-boy. I think to myself, "Bite me, why don't ya." I go to DC for a PCS meeting, Dallas for a FacRep meeting and North Carolina for a girlfriend meeting. I was also invited to a Hub QTP meeting. I think to myself, "What the hell is that?" Only one of those meetings did anything for me. You figure it out.

How time flies when you're having fun. Which we aren't. It's August, which I'm sure you Continued on Page 2 President's Pen con't from page 1 know is "Double-Cross Month." The FAA cancels the first seven travel orders they issued. Apparently, the FAA messed up in the Denver area, which means we can't move in the Chicago area. Huh? Tactical battlefield nuclear warheads are brought on line and checked, but at the last minute we lower them back in their silos. Why? It's time for the NATCA Summer Blowout, that's why! Hey, member benefits are important, but.....

If it's September it must be time for The Fall Classic. The world's greatest golf outing is another spectacular smash. Our Local's tab for the booze on the course is eleven hundred bucks and that's at a buck a beer. We dish out more prizes than Vanna White during the gala awards ceremony, which features prime rib and an open bar. I distinctly remember telling the facility chief, "Mission, Lister! I'm not as think as you drunk I am!" On the official side, we ask for clear direction in the event of a bomb threat. Seems they didn't really have any in Indy. The House subcommittee hearing at Chicago Center was a success, with lots of good press and attention to our issues. The MCF meeting in Las Vegas was a profitable experience for (a) the National Executive Board, and (b) the Tropicana Casino.

October was a loser month. No holidays, no overtime. It's getting cold and grey again. For the fourth year in a row there is freezing rain on Halloween. Poor kids. We did a bunch of union stuff. So what.

November? The FAA wants to prioritize PCS eligibles in preparation for the move to Elgin now eleven months away. Thanksgiving...how apropos.

And here we are, deja vu all over again. December 1995, freezing our collective buns off in Chicago, Illinois. Still waiting for PCS funds, although I'm told we'll get them any day. Of course, I was also told that Princess Di wants to have my love child, so I'm not boxing my crap up just yet. Still working the New TRACON issue. Still doing a million three a year with fifty-four FPL's on the schedule. Still being told we're not understaffed OR hard-to-staff. Still breaking in new people who think O'Hare is just another Level V. Still trying to help out our Union brothers and sisters, whoever they are, wherever they are.

And I couldn't be happier. I have the privilege of representing the finest air traffic controllers in the world. Our local is a vibrant living breathing thing. We have volunteers doing good and great things for this Union, locally and nationally. The men and woman who work in the O'Hare TRACON not only talk that Union talk, they walk that Union walk. I'm honored to work among them.

As for the New Year, I can only promise you this: We'll win some. We'll lose some. Just like every other year, all over again. Oh, yeah. And we'll host the Summer Blowout, and we'll do the Fall Classic. Life is good.




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