<!----Enter Date Bellow *****************> Weekly Presidential Update for January 26, 2001 <!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>
Weekly Update for January 26, 2001

Weekly Update For January 26, 2001

This week starts on Sunday, the 21st in Las Vegas. For those of you who don’t know it we've traditionally done our Facility Representative Training in Las Vegas, and after an investigation of all of the options, here we are again for another year.

When I ran for office I promised to open facrep training up to anyone willing to make the effort to attend. It was then and is now my dream to have 15,000 trained representatives. This year we’ve moved downtown to the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino where we can accommodate more people. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also cheaper per student than last year, thanks to Greg Llafet’s shrewd negotiations with the hotel.

On Sunday afternoon I met with Bob Taylor to go over several pending LR issues and to discuss the resignation of Jim Morin. Bob will be seeking a replacement for Jim’s position in the near future to assist with Labor Relations, and we have made the decision to move the NTSB work Jim was doing over to the Safety and Technology Department.

Bob and I also discussed other personnel issues in his department as well as some pending legal matters with the agency. Our meeting ended on a high note when I hit a four-spot at keno for $112, while Bob used the same numbers to pocket $90.

I spent the afternoon retrieving pages and emails, including some from Chuck Mote on the NTSB situation and his ideas for air safety, and Mike Hull on a pending arbitration. The dedication of our activists never ceases to amaze me. I expect to work on Sundays, but these folks…they just do it.

Sunday evening I hosted a Welcome Reception for the forty class participants. Forty! Last year’s biggest class was only thirty. We chatted over chips and dip from seven until almost ten on every issue under the sun, and I couldn’t be more jazzed about this year’s training.

I think it’s important to meet with facreps and activists regularly to answer questions, provide guidance and help them stay involved and informed in the business of our union. From my perspective making myself available to you, the membership, is one of the most important things I can do. The reception was a big hit with the participants, too, and this year’s training is off to a very fast start.

Monday morning at nine I completed my metamorphosis from John in Dockers to Mr. President in Pinstripes, and I officially opened Facility Representative Training with a presentation from me, followed by questions and answers from the class. The topics were as diverse as the enrollment.

From class it was off to do some formal business. I took care of getting some shirts for our Super Bowl crews in Tampa, and a huge thank you from me to Candi Derr in Membership for making that happen from two thousand miles away. Another big thanks goes to Tampa Joe Formoso for having the wisdom and foresight in the first place to want to attire the crews working the Super Bowl in NATCA logo gear.

After some phone calls and emails I grabbed Greg Llafet, our Director of Training, and we went over to Blimpies for a working lunch. From all indications our move to the Golden Nugget is an overwhelming success. Better, cheaper rooms, better, cheaper food, better, cheaper catering service and a spotless, friendly atmosphere.

More calls! Big Daddy, Barrett, Phil, Wally Pike from NAATS, Barry, Rob, Chuck, and Dennie Rose on a pending removal arbitration. The side of my head is glowing. I also talked to Kevin McGrath about a couple issues, including staffing at ZLA.

Monday night half the Executive Board and I went out to dinner after which I worked on some notes and items for tomorrow’s meeting. To cap off the evening I wandered the casino, where it appeared a fellow could get into a game of cards if he wanted to. Since I left Jill, the professional card player in the family back home I decided to call it a night.

Tuesday morning I started early on the phone with Steve Lester from ZOA, discussing NAR and Free Flight. At nine am sharp we gaveled the NEB Meeting to order, and we began the session with a review of goals we had set for our group during our team building exercise late last year.

Each board member gave a briefing on their issue followed by a self-evaluation of progress made to date. We are working on everything from chartering all our workgroups to member benefits to surveying the bargaining unit to databasing all arbitration information to training to privatization to the NCC and finally, to cataloging our organizational goals.

Some of these issues are simple; however, most of them are quite complex. The NEB is committed to working together and separately to move forward on these fronts during the coming year. Many of these topics have shown marked progress since our last meeting, and the consensus is we’re moving forward on them.

The NEB meeting went well, I think, and the minutes will speak for themselves. One issue that I brought up and which was defeated was another March of Freedom, or open season for membership. The Board felt very strongly that while we need to attract new members in all of our bargaining units it’s more important that we focus on benefits for the men and women who have been with us all along. While I didn’t view this debate as an “either/or” proposition, I couldn’t agree with them more.

After the NEB meeting I asked my good friend from Chicago, Bob Noble, to take me out to visit his new facility, L30, the Las Vegas TRACON. Bob graciously agreed and we toured his building as well as the Tower, where Eric Schug had stayed late to give me the tour. I met many of their members and discussed a few issues of importance to them, including the upgrade process. I love visiting facilities, and I’m going to try to make a habit of it.

Back at the hotel I had calls from Vince Polk out of Atlanta on an IG capacity discussion, Jerry McArthur, Ham out at ZLA, and Bryan Thompson. I also coordinated with Doug Church via page on an interview with Aviation Daily and spoke briefly with Jeff Walukonis of the Reclass team.

I forgot to eat again today so it was almost nine before I stumbled down to the California Pizza Kitchen…right there in the hotel…for a nice Barbeque Chicken pie. Yummy.

Wednesday morning began with phone calls at six am to the east coast. I spoke with Doug Church on some press issues surrounding Mineta’s confirmation, with Doug feverishly trying to mesh my schedule to the networks’ needs.

At 630am the phone rang and I began my testimony in the removal arbitration in the Central Region. In light of the Administrator’s actions on this issue it seems stupid and desperate to take this case to arbitration, but here we are. Central Region management removed a controller for three errors in two and a half years. One of the errors was a deviation, and management violated Articles 10, 20, 80 and 102. The grievant, unfortunately, was removed and left to fight it from the street.

Thank God for the new OE/OD MOU, and for Lorri Hayes and Dennie Rose, our legal counsel who litigated this case on our behalf. No matter what the outcome is, they did an outstanding job putting together a defense. After I testified Pat Forrey and Joe Fruscella each took their turns in the other room testifying, and Mike Blake remained on stand-by if needed.

After the arbitration we convened an Airspace MOU meeting in my room with Pat, Joe, Mike, Don Ossinger and Mike McNally by speakerphone. We discussed progress on the latest draft of the MOU and language surrounding a few outstanding sections. The issues between us and the agency have been reduced to two or three, but they are show stoppers. We’ll keep you posted as events unfold.

The Executive Board meeting began on time at nine, and with an internal grievance right out of the box that I was a party to I decided to recuse myself from the meeting and put myself on a well-deserved break.

I rejoined the meeting at eleven with an airspace briefing from Bill Shedden already in progress. The Board discussed this issue thoroughly, including facility participation in a nationally agreed-upon program. I’m going to continue to work with individual facilities to try to address some of their concerns in order to keep this program moving forward.

Again I won’t get into the details of the board meeting, but we’re making good progress on the affairs of the association. I’m thrilled with the board we have in place, and we seem to be working together very well. A special thanks, too, to Adell for staying in there capturing the work we are doing in the minutes of the meetings.

Wednesday also debuted Andy Cantwell’s contract briefing at Facrep Training, and as usual the crowd went wild. Andy has forgotten more about the contract than I will ever know, and his research into federal law and labor cases is legendary. Andy and I had dinner together, with me eating another pizza and Andy eating a salad as big as my head. From there we adjourned to other areas of the hotel, where there seemed to be a bit of gambling going on.

Thursday morning I exchanged pages with Steve Dye, who I owe a phone call to. I think Steve was surprised to hear back from me at 630 in the morning! At seven I met with Rodney to go over some issues he had for me, and I committed to trying to visit some of his facilities in March, my schedule permitting.

We discussed pay issues, including some very acute problems in the islands, as well as the pending survey in the Southern Region on organizational assessment. We talked about some CIC issues which I think might be national in scope, and Rodney and I brainstormed on ways to insure the RVPs get MOUs in a timely fashion.

My dance card is filling fast, but Rodney gave me the dates for the NSO Golf Outing in October…he must not have heard about the landscaping I did with my clubs on Maui.

I spoke with Bill Peacock on a handful of issues, including some trouble we’re having with the NAR MOU. The NEB had agreed to meet at eight this morning to attempt to get through our agenda, and again they entire board came through, working almost nonstop throughout the day. We finished agenda items around 4:30, and even had time to cover a few untimely submissions.

I’m unbelievably proud of your Executive Board. We’ve been together for five months, and we’re starting to mesh as a unit. NATCA is getting the work of the association done on every level, from facility to regional to national.

In other news I’m sure you’ve probably heard by now that our Engineers ratified their contract by a whopping 91% yes vote, and the TMCs ratified theirs by a 90% yes vote. My eternal gratitude goes out to everyone whose hard work, dedication and sacrifice made these victories possible.

One of our last pieces of business was to approve my selection for a new ATX Liaison. Mr. Mike Hull from Oakland Center will be joining us in Washington, DC for a two year term, and I couldn’t be happier. For those of you who know Mike you know this is great news for NATCA at the national level. For those of you who don’t, I will tell you that we couldn’t ask for a harder working, better trained or more passionate advocate for the men and women in our bargaining units. Ask Mike to see his NATCA tattoo sometime…the one close to his heart.

Mike replaces Jim Gordon, who has worked long and hard on our behalf and who really defined what an ATX Liaison should be. I hope we have an opportunity, not just in this update, not just in the call I made to him, but a real opportunity, to recognize Flash for his contributions to our success.

The NEB Meeting adjourned at five, and our next NEB meeting is scheduled for March. I am considering asking the board to convene the next meeting in Las Vegas again, since it is so much cheaper than Washington, DC. Thirteen hotel rooms in Vegas plus the conference room cost us $4200 for the meeting. Only ten rooms in DC (since Ruth, Adell and I wouldn’t need rooms and we have our own conference capability,) would run about $6,000 for the same period.

Meals are cheaper, and airfare is probably about a wash….twice as much for Mark, half as much for Ricky. The March NEB meeting coincides again with Facrep Training dates again, which gives the RVPs, Ruth and I a unique opportunity to meet, work with and socialize with our new activists. It may or may not work from the hotel’s perspective, but I’m going to ask Greg and Adell to check into it. We’ll see.

Thursday night I worked out of my room for a bit, packed up my stuff and got on a plane about eleven pm for the trip home.

And Friday’s upon us. I changed planes in Cleveland, so the Facrep and my good friend Mark Bohn came out to the airport at 5:30 in the morning to meet me for coffee. Mark works harder than he has to, and most of his membership appreciates his dedication. He’s a great rep, and that facility enjoys many things Mark has managed to negotiate there.

Mark and I enjoyed a good laugh over a call someone made to the IG to whine about his rep’s schedule. It turns out the IG isn’t nearly as transparent as the caller was, so the complaint went where it belonged…in the garbage. Mark and I discussed everything under the sun, and my 7:40 flight came too soon for me.

I landed in the District at nine, and by ten-thirty I was home. I’d been up for about 26 hours so I decided to take a quick nap before putting out my update. Some nap…I slept until three o’clock in the afternoon!

It’s never too late to work, though, so I called Dennie Rose to check on our case in Omaha, then talked to Doug Church on some media issues and I also managed to squeeze in an interview with Reuters on the pending release of last year’s delay info.

I called Bill Peacock to get the agency’s commitment to addressing LA Center’s extremely acute staffing problem. Bill agreed to look into it immediately, and I plan to stay involved with Bill and Ham and Kevin to get ZLA the help they need. I traded pages with Rodney and Ham, and the update’s done by five. When Mrs. Bull comes home from vectoring I think I’ll buy her a nice meal and a movie with my winnings.

I owe about a dozen people calls, and I’ll get to those over the next couple of days. Stevie Ray, Ham, Kevin, Bryan, Chuck, Ray Gibbons…I’ll be with you shortly. There’s another group that hasn’t called me but who I owe calls to, including my good friend Bob Marks in SCT, Rocky Taggio in Charlotte, John Scofield in Dallas and others who I just plain miss talking to.

I’m only slightly behind in answering all your emails, but I’ll be glad when I don’t have to use I-Mail to retrieve on the road. It’s too slow for me and it’s not like I’ve got a lot of time to sit around and wait for things to load.

We’ve got a ton of issues to work with the agency on, and I plan to do just that come Monday morning. Bill Peacock and I have some catching up to do. Enjoy the festive Super Bowl weekend, and please be careful out there.

Take care, and we’ll talk to you all next week.

John


[Back] [Updates]