<!----Enter Date Bellow *****************> Weekly Update for January 05, 2001 <!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>
Weekly Update for <!----Enter Date Bellow ****************>January 05, 2001<!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>

Weekly Update For the Week of January 5, 2001

Aloha from Hawai’i, brothers and sisters. I’m typing this update at 5pm, which is 10pm on the East Coast. The time change whacked me out for the first twenty-four hours, but the persistent sunshine got my circadian rhythms back in good working order. I’m going to get this update done and go catch the world’s most beautiful sunset. Or maybe I’ll just type until the sun starts down and then come back and finish this.

Monday was New Year’s Day, and the office was closed. I did return some calls from home, but all in all it was a very slow day.

Tuesday made up for Monday in terms of busy, with an early morning call to Ron Morgan concerning a pay issue, and then a meeting with Ruth to discuss the mornings’ Director’s Meeting.

While Ruth chaired the first part of the meeting I met with the agency to discuss pay issues. Apparently a congressman has contacted the agency seeking to reopen our pay agreement to take care of one of his constituents, who happened to be a supervisor when reclassification was initiated. We have no intention of reopening the pay agreement to address circumstances that are covered by the current pay rules MOU.

I also discussed 3R’s with the agency group, as well as the TAAP MOU and some other loose ends that I’m getting tired of. I don’t plan to spend too much more time on old issues with no end in sight, and if that means we go to impasse on stoves and arbitration on retroactivity, then so be it.

I joined the Director’s Meeting already in progress and we discussed my upcoming schedule (which is a killer,) current financials, and we also recognized Sherrod Shim and Ken Montoya for their longevity with NATCA. Speaking of Ken Montoya, we put him on the spot and asked him who he thought would be the new President’s pick for Transportation Secretary. As he had a month ago, he told us, “There’s a chance it might be Norm Mineta.” Ruth and I had a good laugh over that.

I asked Lew to ship some NATCA stuff to the islands for me, and made plans to stop in and see our latest bargaining unit.

After the group dispersed Ruth and I met with Sherrod to discuss improvements to our Communications Department, and then we went our separate ways, to meet again in five minutes or so on the NEB Telcon.

The telcon didn’t have a quorum so we didn’t do any of the weighty issues, but I did discuss a few issues with the board. Updates, mostly, and nothing worth repeating here.

After the telcon I spoke with Carol Branaman on the Denver parking situation, John Tune on a pending arbitration in his region that we’re going to win, and then returned the phone calls and messages that had amassed since the morning began. Mark, Wade, Rocky, Carol, Ken, Mark…it seems all I did was talk, talk, talk.

As I was walking down the hall Doug Church in Communications grabbed me to ask if I had heard the news. When I confessed that I’d been busy and hadn’t, he advised me that the President had indeed picked Norm Mineta for the Transportation Secretary post. We could not have been luckier if we’d tried, and in fact Vice President Gore allowed that Mineta would have been his pick had he won the election.

For those of you who don’t remember I think Norm Mineta was one of the early board members of NARI, our research institute, and has always been a friend of NATCA. Additionally, Ken has known Norm since his days as a mayor in California; a priceless relationship if ever there was one.

Tuesday evening I held a meeting with Ruth and Susan Grundmann to discuss a few legal issues and Susan’s pending maternity leave. We also discussed several contracts NATCA has, including the one with Hill and Knowlton, and brainstormed some ideas around new revenue generation. The meeting went late, and on the way home I still had to stop at a jeweler, a barber and the grocery store. I made it home about ten pm…just in time to start packing!!! We were done and in bed by midnight.

Wednesday morning wakeup was at 4am. We left at 5am, getting to the airport in plenty of time for a 6:30 flight. Jill fammed while I flew in back from DC to EWR. Once in Newark we had a 45 minute plane change, which was barely enough time to call Mark and Cindy Hood at the New York TRACON and ask them to take care of us.

They certainly did, and thanks go not only to them but to Zack, the Liberty area controllers and the Newark tower controllers, as well. We departed on time at 8:30am, and landed in Honolulu at 1:30 in the afternoon after three meals, three movies and a ten hour flight.

I got a car while Jill grabbed our bags, and it was off to the hotel to return a slew of phone calls, catch up with Kevin McGrath, and prepare for the evening.

At five pm we convened in the lobby to head over to the Honolulu Combined Facility for a quick tour on our way to dinner and an all hands meeting. Chuck Zapf, the Facility Representative, met us at the door and did what he has done since long before we got here: he took care of every single detail.

Chuck made our hotel reservations, our inter-island plane reservations, booked an all hands meeting, scheduled five facility visits on three islands, and generally took total care of us during our stay here. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Chuck, for your warm hospitality, rock solid unionism and dedication to NATCA.

We toured the facility in short order and headed over to the restaurant. Again, Chuck had booked a sumptuous buffet, and fifty of his local’s 85 members showed up. Chuck spoke briefly, Kevin spoke slightly longer, and I droned on and on for a couple of hours. All warmly welcomed us, and we tried to answer every question. The meeting broke up about ten pm or so, and we piled back into the rent-a-car for the ride over to the hotel. At this point Jill and I had been up for 23 hours, and we were starting to feel it. Thankfully, Chuck gave us tomorrow off…which I thought was a nice gesture since he had booked our Friday, Saturday and Sunday solid!!!

Thursday morning I celebrated my day off by answering Phil Barbarello’s 8am page to me. Unfortunately, Phil paged me at 8am EAST COAST TIME, which meant that my cell phone was doing the Macarena across the nightstand at THREE O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING. (Phil…didn’t you talk to Chuck?!?!? I’m supposed to be off!!!)

After disposing of Phil properly I talked to Ruth about various vouchering issues, as well as some simmering equipment problems in St. Louis. I also called Ron Morgan to keep a commitment to him I had made before I left to check in with him on Thursday. Ron advised me that he had announced his retirement that morning, and we agreed to meet soon after I return to the District.

I traded pages for a while with Bob Taylor, Jim D’Agati, Chuck Zapf, Kevin McGrath and myself concerning a contract briefing we’re trying to put together for tomorrow for the NATCA Engineers in Hawaii. After a couple hours of phone tag and some jockeying we nail down tomorrow, at 7am Hawaii time.

I spoke with Ruth again around noon to get a briefing on the day’s events and then finally, finally, headed out to greet the Pacific Ocean. The sun was warm and brilliant, the sand was luxurious and the water was just cool enough to refresh you. Snowcones as big as your head were only two bucks, and for an hour or two there I conned myself into thinking I actually had some free time. By and by I felt like I was playing hooky, and eventually I gave up the beach in favor of writing some engineer’s contract briefing notes in my room. Yes, I’m a sick puppy.

And now look: it’s Friday again. The morning started with a five am wakeup to get over to the base by seven for the Engineer’s contract briefing. Jim D’Agati, Dave Sandbach, Curt Howe and “Big Mike” Johannsen all joined us via teleconference to answer questions for the seven Hawaii engineers. The briefing went extremely well, and I can’t thank the team enough for making time in their very busy schedule to do this mission. We briefed from seven until nine, and every question was answered.

I gave the engineers MY big pitch, both for membership and ratification, and then we toured the Honolulu facility one more time to meet and greet anybody we might have missed the other night. I got to meet almost every member during my stay here, and I’m very proud of that.

From the HCF Chuck, Kevin and myself drove the half hour over to the site of the former Barber’s Point Naval Air Station to greet the members of NATCA’s newest bargaining unit, the Hawaiian National Guard air traffic controllers.

Steve Foster greeted us and welcomed us to Kalaeloa, and gave us a facility tour. The physical facility is a dump, and they will need a lot of work in terms of both labor relations and other assistance. We met probably nine of the thirteen members of the unit while we were there, and with Chuck for a neighbor they’ve got a lot to look forward to.

After our visit it was time to say “aloha” to Chuck, and thank him for all his work. He’s taken care of our arrangements for Hilo tomorrow and Maui on Sunday, and facility visits await at each island. Early next week I join Administrator Garvey and many others for the American Association of Airport Executives Conference on Maui, from Monday through Friday.

On the way back to the hotel I traded pages with Ruth on a Monday meeting, and called a few other folks who had looked for my assistance. Once back to the hotel I managed to trade a half a dozen messages with my good brother Mike Hull out in Oakland on a pending arbitration, and work towards scheduling a telcon for the LR department, the witnesses and me.

And now? I’m beat. It’s nine thirty here, which is 2:30am on the East Coast. Friday update, indeed!!! I couldn’t get it done on Friday with an extra five hours!!! But it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Tomorrow morning we don the suit again, and it’s back into the air for another island, another facility, another group of brothers and sisters. I can’t wait. Howard Blankenship said it best on NATCAnet, and I’m going to steal it here: The Union is my home.

I’m five thousand miles from anyplace my door key would fit, and every day I am surrounded by the greatest air traffic controllers the world has ever seen. I have been welcomed into YOUR homes…your facilities…with grace and style and kindness. Tomorrow? David Chang at Hilo will wait curbside, so I don’t have to worry about my luggage. Thanks, Dave. You represent 15,000 people when you do things like that, and I couldn’t be more grateful or proud.

And thanks again, Chuck, and the kind folks from the Honolulu HCF. You made all the hard work worth it. Hawai’i noka oi.

Aloha, and we’ll see you next week.

John


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