<!----Enter Date Bellow *****************> Weekly Presidential Update for February 16, 2001 <!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>
Weekly Update for February 16, 2001

Hello, sports fans, and welcome to another edition of the Weekly Update. A special welcome to those of you at Headquarters and in the Regional Offices tuning in on Rodneyvision. It’s come to my attention that we’re getting quite a following here, both inside the FAA and out.

Our notoriety comes as no surprise to me. NATCA has long been a reliable source of information for the media, the public, the Congress and the industry, and this column is no exception. Welcome, one and all.

This week starts last Saturday when I met up with Mike Hull from Oakland Center. Mike, our new ATX Liaison, had agreed to meet me and take me up to ZOA for a facility tour and visit.

The tour went very well, and from nine-thirty or so until a little after two in the afternoon I took four and a half hours of uninterrupted questions from the fine members at Oakland Center. Tough subjects ranging from reclass to part-time to staffing were discussed, and I did my best to honestly answer our members' concerns. I was grateful for the opportunity to hang out with our brothers and sisters in the Bay area, and hopefully they got answers to some of their questions.

From Oakland Center it was off to San Jose to return the car, hop on a jet and high-tail it down to Los Angeles for the AFL-CIO Executive Council Meetings scheduled for the coming week. I was glad to be traveling south, because it had rained every single day of my stay in Northern California, and I heard it never does that in the sunny south.

Sunday morning began with an early morning meeting of the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO. The Executive Director, Ed Wytkind, has worked hard on our issues and is poised to help us in the coming public policy debates. The TTD passed a series of resolutions dealing with many issues, and the one most important to us is posted elsewhere on NATCA.net. I think you’ll find it a comprehensive document and a wonderful framework for the thirty-two transportation unions to stand behind.

At mid-morning Ken Montoya and I had a meeting with Senator Patty Murray, D-WA. Our meeting went very, very well and while the subject of the discussion will remain proprietary at this time I can tell you that we are committed to working together with our friends on Capitol Hill. Anyone who has read a newspaper recently knows that organized labor is under attack, and we are aggressively moving to shore up our support in every way possible.

I met later in the day with our friend Duane Woerth, President of ALPA, and he agreed to provide us with a pilot for the new commercial we will be shooting next week. While everyone loved our previous commercial the experts tell us it’s run it’s course. Because of recent events which indicate we are in for a real fight on our issues, we are pivoting our efforts from introduction towards advocacy.

We will be shooting three new commercials to take advantage of our overall strategy and putting them into the rotation on the CNN Airport Network in our targeted markets. One of them involves a pilot and I. Another one involves “concrete” solutions, and the last one will be a hard hitting comparison of privatized air traffic control to HMOs.

Once these are in the can we’ll get them out to you folks as quick as we can, and as always...if anyone wants to buy local cable airtime or try to get them aired as public service announcements, the National Office will be ready to assist with the appropriate tape format.

The Sunday TTD meeting stretched until mid-afternoon, covering everything from policy resolutions to the legislative agenda for the 107th Congress. When the meeting finally ended I decided to try to salvage some of the weekend, so Jill and I did one of our favorite things: We cruised the open houses late Sunday afternoon. We did some house-hunting in Beverly Hills...saw a fixer-upper for $2.8 million just off Rodeo Drive, but the closets were too small! We had to call it a day after only three houses because it started to rain. Probably only a sprinkle.

Monday was an official off day for the AFL meetings, but that didn’t keep me from returning pages, working through email, and conducting business as usual. I talked to Ruth, Adell, John Tune, Susan Grundmann, Phil, Fuse, and a half a dozen others before the NEB Telcon at nine in the morning.

The telcon went off without a hitch, and then it was off to my meeting with Senator Mark Dayton, D-MN. Senator Dayton and I had a very cordial first meeting, and we will be working very closely with him. The Senator was very interested in our issues, particularly the short-sighted and reckless notion of a privatized air traffic control system. I felt we made real progress in enlisting a new advocate for our cause.

Monday evening Jill and I drove down the coast to San Clemente to enjoy the company and hospitality of Bob and Jeanne Marks. We dined at a seaside restaurant, then took a windswept and rainy walk along the city pier. We laughed hysterically, swapped stories and generally got along like old friends always do. The evening went too quickly for my tastes, and I started missing their company and support as I was pulling out of their driveway. It was only a short one hour drive back to LA, but it took an hour and a half due to flooding on the highway. The light sprinkle which started yesterday was now a full fledged monsoon.

Tuesday began with the obligatory calls and mail...it just began at five am instead of eight! I talked to Fuse about the Chokepoints MOU and also to Bill Peacock about the funding we were working to have restored to the FAA budget. I coordinated some press activity with Doug Church, cleaned up my email box, and hurried down for the opening session of the AFL-CIO Executive Council. Jill left town, since she could get rainy and fifty degrees back in either DC or Cleveland.

Before the meeting began Pat Friend from the Flight Attendants union put me in touch with Leon Lynch, Vice President of the United Steelworkers of America and Board member of the Aviation Subcommittee to the MAC. Leon and I agreed to get together with Duane Woerth from ALPA to discuss the FAA COO position and also to bring Mr. Lynch up to speed on labor’s concerns with privatization and contracting out in the aviation industry.

I stepped out of the early part of the Executive Council meeting to do some real-time coordination with our media folks, and then rejoined the meeting in progress. Good thing I did, because in short order Governor Gray Davis, Representative Dick Gephardt, Rep. David Bonior, and Rep. George Miller made the rounds, and then each gave very informative talks to the assembled labor leaders.

The AFL-CIO meeting was conducted in executive session so the particulars of the meetings are best left unpublished; however, I can tell you that Representative Gephardt gave what I can only characterize as the most impassioned, blunt and forceful remarks I have ever heard by someone of his stature. I can also report that his remarks were met with a loud and prolonged standing ovation. In terms of politics...this is where it gets interesting.

Tuesday evening I had the privilege of dining with Ed Wytkind, Executive Director of the TTD and a good friend of ours. We discussed the climate on Capitol Hill, the onslaught of Executive Orders we expect Bush to sign, and the continuing partisan climate.

Ed and I also discussed congealing the thirty-two transportation trade unions around a group of policy initiatives aimed at easing delays, improving service and building our nation’s transportation infrastructure. Ed is working on just such a group of initiatives and I committed to him our help wherever possible. We ended up taking a borrowed limo back to the hotel three blocks away as the Southern California area was pelted with lightning, hail and snow in historical proportions. And no, I’m not making any of this up.

Wednesday morning the AFL-CIO Executive Council reconvened, but not before I had discussed the operational error MOU with Phil and answered a handful of pages. The meetings were again conducted in closed session, including remarks from new Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao.

Wednesday afternoon’s business was closed session, as well, and with Thursday morning’s session only scheduled to run until noon I made the command decision to save NATCA a few hundred dollars and checked out of my hotel two days early. When business closed for the day I headed out to the airport, hopped on a very late flight out to Cleveland, and arrived home just before midnight. Happy Valentine’s Day, indeed. Just as I took off I noticed clearing skies to the west, bringing warmer temperatures and sunshine to Southern California after a week of solid rain. The weather in Cleveland? Rainy. Forty degrees.

I spent most of Thursday morning in recovery from not only the time change but the blizzard of activity of the last eight days. By noon I was back in the saddle and working on a number of initiatives and policy questions. I spent the better part of the afternoon catching up on snail mail, email, messages and coordinating my schedule with a half a dozen people who absolutely positively need me to be somewhere.

Have I mentioned lately what a godsend Adell is? Probably not, and I can’t say it enough, anyway: she’s the best. Thursday evening I finally got around to typing in and posting the Privatization Resolution passed by the TTD.

And today, Friday, I thought I’d take it easy. Silly me. I’ve been on the phone since eight o’clock this morning and it’s after five pm now. I’ve spoken with Adell, John Tune, Dale Wright several times, our bankers, Ruth, Mike Matthews from Richmond, Phil Barbarello, Fred Duval from Hill and Knowlton, and I can’t even begin to list the pages.

Steve, Bob, Tampa Joe, Ken, Rodney, Mike Hull, Pat Forrey, Matt Tucker, Jim, James, Dan, Martin Cole, the NEB, and the list goes on. I tried to multi-task, answering pages while I answered email, and still didn’t get to all of them. I inadvertently deleted a couple very important emails, so Dan from Detroit, send it again. Ditto for Mike Hoover from Indy Center, and Pat Forrey...I could use that MOU language again on training failures.

I plan to spend the weekend recharging my batteries and brainstorming inside and outside the box. By the way...used in this context, “the box” is the hot tub in my back yard. (Thanks and a doff of the fedora to Ray Gibbons from the Chicago TRACON for that tip. He caught me in a moment of exasperation and told me to turn off the phones and go have a soak.)

Ed Wytkind said something very profound to me in Los Angeles, and I’d like to leave it with you all to ponder:

It’s easy enough to list NATCA’s accomplishments. Any one of us can do that. We can plan a parade later on if we need one.

But what are our weaknesses? Where are we vulnerable? What is our Achilles heel? What information, if revealed, would hurt us? What are the things we cannot defend? Where are we weak? Where are we divided?

It’s very important for us to concentrate on these things, and on what we plan to do about them. Because you see my friends, our enemies are not sitting around, focusing on our accomplishments. They’re spending their time focusing on our weaknesses, and how best to exploit them.

“The Art of War,” compiled over two thousand years ago by a Chinese warrior and philosopher, is the most prestigious and influential book of strategy in the world. I read and refer to it often, and it curiously parallels Ed’s thoughts in this regard:

“The rule is not to count on opponents not coming, but to rely on having ways of dealing with them; not to count on opponents not attacking, but to rely on having what cannot be attacked.

So it is said that if you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know others but know yourself, you win one and lose one; if you do not know others and do not know yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.”

Best wishes, and we’ll see you again next week.

John




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