<!----Enter Date Bellow *****************> Weekly Presidential Update for February 9, 2001 <!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>
Weekly Update for February 9, 2001

Weekly Update for February 9, 2001

This week begins on Saturday of last week, when I hopped…OK, crawled…out of bed at five in the morning for my flight over to Philadelphia, PA. I was welcomed at the airport be the PHL Local Executive Board, led by Facrep Kevin Devery. Kevin, along with Don, Tina and Pat took me into Philly to the Melrose Diner for some breakfast and conversation. This diner’s only been slinging hash for 65 years, mind you, so it was something of an institution. I thought I saw someone taking pictures of it, outside.

From the diner it was over to Philly Tower and TRACON, and some hang-out time in the Union office before the meeting they’d scheduled for the afternoon. Joe Fruscella was also coming in for the meeting, and Kevin and company expected a good solid turnout from their crew and the surrounding facilities.

The meeting began promptly at one o’clock, and there must have been 75 people there. Kevin later told me there were representatives from North Philly, Wilkes Barre, and four other facilities present…six in all. I was stunned at the strong turnout, and the rock solid unionism these folks represented.

The meeting went great, and we took questions from the audience for the better part of an hour. I left at five, flew at six, landed at seven-thirty and was playing cards back in my ‘hood by eight that evening.

I can’t thank the members of NATCA Local PHL enough for their hospitality and support. They’ve got some “issues” with their management team, and I’ll be standing by to help them and Joe Fruscella in any way I can.

I must have caught up on my sleep this weekend, because Monday morning I woke up early and was in the office by a little before six in the morning. I had between two and three billion emails to read, and between that and the snail mail the early morning evaporated.

At nine I welcomed Congressman Neil Abercrombie, D-HI to the NATCA National Office. The congressman has some very intriguing ideas about the 2002 campaign, and we discussed legislative activism and our issues, as well. Ken, Christine and I brainstormed with the congressman, and after the meeting I saw Alan Clendenin and Rich Ulmes, and asked them to consider Neil for a speaking engagement at NATCA In Washington.

John Sweeney was scheduled to speak at the National Press Club, so we bought a table and took our Legislative and Communications Teams to lunch to hear President Sweeney speak. I was honored to sit at one of the head tables with many dignitaries, and Senator Kennedy came over to exchange pleasantries with us.

The speech itself was a smash. I was particularly heartened to hear President Sweeney detail a few of the many promises President Bush had made to the working families of America during the campaign, and his keen interest in helping insure that labor remained a strong advocate for those issues.

Back at the office after lunch I met with Fanny Rivera from the FAA to discuss the FAA’s Model Work Environment program and also attempts at resolving conflicts through mediation. We had a very warm conversation.

The NEB telcon, delayed since noon, finally went off at four in the afternoon, and I won’t bore you with the details other than to let you know that Jose Ceballos will join us soon in the National Office.

Jose, who comes to us from the office of the Secretary of Transportation, will serve as our Policy Director. He will assist the leadership of this union in the coalition building, industry briefing, and policy enactment and enforcement that we will so desperately need in the coming years. We intend to carve out short, intermediate and long term goals, and Jose will be an integral part of that planning. Jose’s resume’ fairly glitters, and I hope you will all agree he is the right asset at the right time.

Tuesday dawned early with breakfast with Mr. Levin from USA Today. Doug Church accompanied me on this trip, and together we discussed the full range of ATC issues. Mr. Levin is extremely well versed in our domain, and he seemed genuinely interested in what we had to say. I have found his reporting to be balanced and well written, and I hope our meeting will help insure that we remain a credible, trustworthy source of information for him.

Back at the office I met with Joe Fruscella, Phil Barbarello, Brian Zilonis and Bob Taylor to go over our afternoon meeting with Bill Peacock and his team. We discussed the issues between the parties, and I briefed everyone on my impressions going into our meeting.

The meeting at the FAA lasted from one o’clock until almost five thirty in the afternoon. We primarily discussed the National Airspace Redesign MOU, the Consolidated Pay Rules, and there was a smattering of choke points sectors and retroactivity thrown in for good measure.

The first two items are somewhat stalled, we made minor movement on the third, and the retroactivity piece continues to elude settlement. I know that’s of no comfort to those of you waiting for it but I continue to press the issue in hopes of reaching a final resolution.

The meeting at the FAA gave me a headache. I asked the team to dinner so they could critique my performance. I gave myself a C-, but they weren’t nearly so harsh. We also talked more about where we are with the two MOUs we’re working on. I’m fairly confident that there will be a meeting next week on this very issue. The agency is very anxious to move forward on both, so hopefully we will see some kind of progress.

Wednesday morning it was up at four for a six o’clock flight to Reno. I got into Reno at around lunchtime, and the Facrep was kind enough to pick me up and take me over to the Western Pacific Regional Meeting. Thanks, Mike!

The meeting didn’t start until one and it was only noon, so I returned a dozen phone calls or so to kill some time. I also managed to squeeze in a meeting with the NCT Facility Representatives to discuss some very critical issues concerning this new facility. I’ll be working the PCS issue for them first thing Monday morning to try to compel the agency to move these people.

My meeting with the Western Pacific Regional Facreps went great. It was super to see all my friends again…Chuck Zapf and Bob Marks and Bob Noble and Chuck Taylor and Steve Merlin and Mike Foote and Randy Fuhrman and Mike Hull and Hamid Ghaffari and Howie Rifas and David Stock and Rodney, who had flown out to help get Kevin up and running.

There must have been sixty representatives in attendance, and I briefed them on current events in the union and took questions from the audience for an hour or so. The energy in the room was palpable, and of course I stayed after school to answer more questions.

Jeff Knutson left early to get over to work, and just as I was wrapping up Mike asked me if I’d like to visit Reno Tower and TRACON. For me, visiting facilities is like three free lines of bowling, so I jumped at the chance and jumped in Mike’s car for the quick trip over to RNO. Needless to say I had a great time meeting the members and answering questions.

Dinner was with a contingent from the region, and the night ended too quickly. The camaraderie and esprit de corps is real, and the brotherhood of unionism is a living, breathing thing that I enjoy wrapping myself in whenever possible.

Thursday morning I got up at four, in a cab at five, flew at six, landed at seven and was at NASA Ames at eight. Karl Grundmann and I were set up to tour the facility, meet with their project people and advanced Air Transportation Technologies office, and have some fun.

I discussed and saw demos on the pFAST (Passive Final Approach Spacing Tool,) the TMA (Traffic Management Advisor,) the McTMA (Multi-Center Traffic Management Advisor,) the CTAS (Center/TRACON Automation System,) and the D-2 (Direct-To.)

I discussed theory and practice with the Senior Scientist for Air Traffic Management and discussed global air traffic issues with the senior leadership team at NASA Ames. I flew in the Advanced CAB flight simulator and watched a demo in the most realistic tower simulator on the planet, the Future Flight Central.

NASA is knee deep in Decision Support Tools, and they are undertaking more and more Research and Development as FAA R&D capability diminishes. I was very impressed with what I saw, and NASA is keenly interested in controller involvement at the very earliest stages of their project development cycle. We need to find a way to insure that happens.

I also discovered that you have to watch what you say over at NASA. For instance, if you say, “It isn’t rocket science…” they say, “No, that’s Building 18.” If you say, “OK, OK, it isn’t brain surgery…” they say, “No, that’s Building 32.” Funny guys, these nerds. I love ‘em.

Friday morning I traded pages and email with Ruth on a couple of issues, then zoomed up the freeway to Bay TRACON. Mike Seko greeted me and gave me the VIP Tour of his fossilized facility.

From Bay we went over to Oakland Tower, where Facrep Kyle Johnson met us and gave us the tour of not one, but his TWO towers. Kyle has two towers due to sight line problems, and from the tallest of the two there’s still 1500 feet missing at the approach end of the runway.

Kyle and his manager Ora King have been a great example of a partnership that works, and they’ve been trying desperately to get the funding stream they need to build the new facility they’ve had approved for about the last four years. After touring their buildings, they have a new friend in the fight. These folks desperately need a new building.

From Oakland it was over to Hayward Tower for a quick visit and Q and A. It’s always good to meet members, and these had very pointed and particular questions about privatization. They know the score, probably better than all of us. And they know what’s at stake, too.

Back to Bay for the two o’clock all hands meeting, and the place was packed. Bay has some very serious concerns about the move into NCT, and hopefully our meeting today gave them a means and a methodology for addressing some of these. The members are super people, working extremely hard in a very complex environment; every one of them bent over what is probably the last roomful of flattops in the FAA. I’m going to try doubly hard to insure that their PCS concerns are addressed, and quickly. As for their moving issues, I think they’re going to work on that even as we speak.

After the meeting I met with Mike and a few members privately to hear their concerns, and then joined Secretary/Treasurer Joe Gryzbek and a pair of members down at the Hilton for a cold O’Douls and some pleasant conversation. We strategized some more and the time just slipped away from me, and the next thing you knew it was time for me to go. Thanks, Joe, and thanks Bay. Tough questions…tough issues…and kind hospitality. A class act.

And thanks, especially, to Mike Seko, for doing all this, and chauffeuring me around, and staying to hear every concern…while his wife stayed at home with pneumonia, taking care of their four month old daughter. I am absolutely dumbfounded by our member’s and our activist’s pure dedication.

Viola! Another week in the books. As soon as I hit “send” it’s off to get something to eat, and then I’ll catch up on my reading before calling it a night. Tomorrow it’s over to Oakland Center for membership meetings, and tomorrow afternoon I fly to LA for the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO’s meeting on Sunday. We hope to have a resolution on privatization ready for approval by the full AFL-CIO when the Executive Council meets next week in Los Angeles. No RDO for me this week.

I’m unbelievably blessed and fortunate. I had the opportunity to meet and work with some of the most dedicated and selfless individuals I’ve ever known this week. I got to watch you folks vector, and work in the tower when the rain came down sideways, in sheets. Tomorrow, I get to hang out with a couple hundred of my friends at Oakland Center.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Ruth keeps the fight up in DC, Adell keeps me sane and on schedule, Doug keeps me informed and in touch, and Accounting keeps me paid. Everyone, from Labor Relations to Membership, comes to play every day, and we are getting stronger and more powerful by the moment.

We have a lot to be proud of, and much work to do. I hope this finds you all healthy and happy, and I hope our paths cross someday soon. Best wishes, and we’ll talk to you all again next week.

John



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