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

Sunday, March 4th promised to be a long, challenging day as Jill and I drove back from Cleveland to Washington in the middle of the “Storm of the Century.” We were plowing through the mountains of western Pennsylvania in a pretty good snowstorm when the bat-phone went off. David Stock from Phoenix was calling to find out whether or not to cancel the Classification Adjustment Board’s inaugural meeting in light of the fact that the eastern seaboard was about to get whacked. I told David to leave the meeting in place as scheduled, to come on into DC, and if nothing else, the two of us could meet!

Monday morning I laughed as I cracked open my blinds to see the wet pavement shining up at me. Some storm. I got in at six thirty and read the very light email load, which gave me time for some other reading and regular mail. NATCA.net is still down while we transition, so my message traffic is about a tenth of what it usually is.

At eight Doug Church and I had breakfast with Jonathan Salant from the AP. As usual with these introductories we made a few key points, established a good rapport, and firmed up contact information for future stories.

Ken Montoya joined me back at the office, and we cabbed it over to Secretary Mineta’s office for our first exclusive one-on-one. We discussed the MAC, privatization, the cancellation of Executive Order 12871, working in partnership, and the Seattle situation. We talked about the mood of the Congress and our joint love of football. The Secretary is a 49er’s season ticket holder, and I can sympathize. I’ve got four for the Browns! The Secretary also let on that his wife was a rabid sports fan and great at catching fish. I openly wept.

Running late I split from Ken and made it over to the studio for final edits to our three new commercials. The theme has moved from introduction to advocacy, and the people at Hill and Knowlton do a fantastic job of getting everything just right. They are incredibly expensive, and incredibly worth every penny of it.

At one p.m. I ran back to the office and ran smack into my first afternoon appointment. Tim Hardison from Washington Center briefed me on his efforts to get attention focused on staffing numbers and retirements. It’s becoming apparent to me that we’re going to have to take the lead on this subject, and Tim agreed to help me with the effort. We will be trying to get realistic numbers for staffing, and eligible versus actual retirement dates so we can enlist our friends…like ATA…to help us get more staffing.

At three Ruth and I interviewed a candidate for our vacant Communications Director position, and at four I met with Ken and Christine to go over my congressional testimony for next week. At five I convened a meeting with Ruth and Susan to discuss a few internal legal matters, and after that I had a short discussion with Doug about some activity surrounding Meigs Field in Chicago. I will be co-authoring an op-ed piece with Phil Boyer, President of AOPA, in the very near future.

At six I kicked everyone out of my office so I could concentrate on the pile which used to be my desk, and so I could gather my thoughts---and my things---and go home.

This was one of those days when you’re so busy you can’t even answer your own phone, so on the way home I took calls or messages from Don Schmeickel in Seattle, Ruth, Wade, Jane, Ray, Tampa Joe, Richard, Rodney, Dave, Steve, Pete, Melissa, Kevin, and Adell. Whew! I think I forgot to eat today, too, but I’m too tired to do anything collapse.

Tuesday morning found me back in the office at six, and every morning I’m looking more and more forlorn. Email problems, voice mail problems, and Internet problems are beginning to grind on me, as I’m sure they are on you. I can assure you we are working very hard on all of these growing pains. The phone company is notoriously incompetent, so we’ve spent the week resetting the switchboard.

Doug Church has been working to generate press interest in the NATCA engineers and their heroic efforts in Seattle. Although I think they may have finally run a story or two, the recognition was nowhere near enough. The following individuals each played a key role in service restoration in the Seattle area. They worked ten, twelve, eighteen hour days. They moved mountains, literally, to insure the flying public was served. Through their spectacular efforts we were able to shine as a union:

Don Schmeichel, SEA
Curt Howe, SEA
Hal Snyder, SEA
Jim Martinez, SEA
Joe Ferguson, SEA/BFI
John Peterson, SEA
Joe Peterson, SEA
Larry Lewis, SEA
John Ikeda, SEA/BFI
Gary Glenisky, BFI
Pablo Riofrio, SEA/BFI
Roger Hartje, SEA/BFI
Craig Higgins, SEA/BFI
Mark Stack, SEA/BFI
Charles (Rich) Thompson, SEA/BFI
Paul Kim, SEA
Wing Tom, SEA
Deb Russell, SEA
Steve Riordan, SEA/BFI
Stve Roewer, SEA/BFI
Ron Joshua, SEA
Mark Pereira, SEA/BFI

I can only assume the agency is processing appropriate awards for these heroes as we speak.

I started the morning with Dale Wright, who likes to come in about as early as I do. We discussed Pfast, CRCT, and other MOU/Liaison issues. Dale is also working on a guide to tech projects for me, and when I mentioned it he promised it by Friday. I can’t even begin to tell you how invaluable Dale has been to me in the last few months.

Ben Phelps and I had a discussion of his replacement. Due to health and family issues Ben will be leaving NATCA, and the search is on for his successor. We hope to have someone in place before Ben leaves.

I talked to Bernie Reed on the phone. In spite of the relative dearth of snow, the airlines made a preemptive move and cancelled almost all flights on the East Coast. Now Bernies’ stuck in New York…staring at the same glistening pavement I was…wondering where his two feet of snow went.

Jerry Whitaker and I met to discuss AMASS, Free Flight, and some Alaska issues. I’ve empowered Jerry to assist the engineers in crafting an MOU for operating in the post-CMP world.

My meeting with Bill Peacock started at ten, and finished almost two hours later. We discussed many, many outstanding issues, from Denver parking to NCT PCS entitlements to CRCT, TAAP, C90, Retroactivity pay, the OSI and SCI, a training failure MOU, official time for an OSHA rep, and NAR. We had previously discussed a Friday deadline for completing negotiations on NAR, but we had subsequently agreed to extend it to today. I advised Bill that he would need to talk to Joe Fruscella. We discussed the NY/NY concept and also discussed measuring cost savings associated with the CBA.

I called Ruth from the cab to tell her to stall on the NEB telcon until I got back to the office, but as it turned out I lucked into a kamikaze cabbie and made it to the office in the nick of time. We discussed everything from our new playbook, which is in development, to Pago Pago’s Internet bill.

After the telcon Ruth and I interviewed another candidate for the Communications Director position, and then I retreated to my office to write a few letters, answer a few calls and open some mail.

Meanwhile, and all day, the Classification Adjustment Board met, created a charter, and drafted a guideline for the submission of appeals. The NEB will be reviewing these documents at our meeting at the end of the month.

At six-thirty Ruth and I went over to the Willard Hotel for the Former Members of Congress Association’s Dinner honoring Secretary Mineta. Hill and Knowlton had graciously invited us to sit at their table. The reception was packed, and they held a silent auction of political memorabilia that was really something. (One of the items was an impeachment voting slip from the 106th Congress, Senate side. Pretty rare, I would think.)

I introduced Ruth to the Secretary, and then we did some heavy mingling. Mingle, mingle, mingle. We bumped into Ed Bolen from GAMA and other friends and industry types. After dinner they auctioned another few items, with Tom Delay serving as auction barker. Some sights you never think you’re going to see. We left around ten, and I was home by eleven. Schmoozing is hard work.

Wednesday I got in around six, and Ruth called me around six-thirty to go down and reset the phone system. My email seems to be working, but NATCA.net is still down.

When Ruth got in we discussed various and sundry issues, and then I worked on some material for posting on our new web site. At eight Ruth and Susan joined me in working on NATCA Employee Position Descriptions. We are getting ready to implement employee evaluations, and we will be training all managers and directors on how to fairly and accurately evaluate their personnel.

I spoke with FAA LR on an issue we are working, and took a call from John Lolio down in Houston on his issue. I think we’re moving forward on both.

Ken and I left the office midmorning for our flight from DC to Dallas. While flying down I spent about 45 minutes on the air phone with the Columbia, South Carolina local discussing reclass and other issues. While I’m certain I didn’t please every listener I hope I was at least successful in communicating to our brothers and sisters that issues such as this are not “big facility versus small facility” matters. Like I told them…if we were concentrating on the big facilities I reckon we’d have a validated traffic count program for them by now. The discussion was cordial, and Jeff Walukonis, who answered specific classification questions, followed me on.

We arrived at three pm, and American’s legislative liaison promptly met us and took us over to corporate headquarters for the grand tour. We discussed technical issues and equipment, privatization, and system operations.

From there it was over to the simulator building, where I flew the MD-11 simulator. I landed 14R at O’Hare twice (OK, once in the grass,) and Ken managed to snap off the nosewheel on his one attempt. After the simulator experience we went back over to System Operations Central for more discussion and from there it was over to the hotel.

I caught up on my messages, twenty in all, I think, from Fuse, AF-1, Phil Boyer, Adell, Carolyn, Rodney, Alan Clendenin, Wade, Don Ossinger, Mike Doherty and others.

Fuse had discussed NAR the previous day with the agency and agreed to extend our ability to participate through Wednesday to allow for resolution of the outstanding issues. Fuse advised me of two calls he received which indicated that the agency was unable to conclude the negotiations, and that they basically said, “you gotta do what you gotta do.”

No truer words were ever spoken. I made the decision to withdraw our participation from the NAR process until negotiations are complete on an NAR MOU that provides protection for our families and our futures.

Will, Ken and I continued our discussion over dinner at the hotel restaurant, and after dinner I went up to my room to continue the blizzard of calls necessary to implement my policy.

Thursday morning I worked the phones, calling Fuse, Rodney, and John Tune. At eight I joined many senior executives for American Airlines, including their CEO Don Carty, for a breakfast roundtable discussion. We spoke about the ATA resolution, privatization, technical issues such as CPDLC which hold promise for both of us, and we also talked about finding common ground, and finding things to be “for” as opposed to things to be “against.”

Don and I had a very productive exchange about efficiency. American, and other airlines like it, can run a 100,000 person business in all twenty four time zones with multiple bargaining units, language barriers and split second scheduling, loading, baggage, weight and balance, security…the works…from one room in Dallas. Kind of makes you wonder what we’re doing with nine regional offices, doesn’t it?

In 1997 Secretary Mineta’s Civil Aviation Review Commission recommended closing six regional offices, and moving from nine regions to three. As a matter of fact, the exact quote from the report is, “The Commission recommends that a regional office consolidation take place reducing from nine to three regions. Studies have shown this consolidation could reduce the FAA’s operating costs by nearly $100 million per year while improving or standardizing services.” Hmmm. I think we’re finding some things to be “for” already.

At the airport I talked to Bill Peacock about our position on NAR, and he advised me that the agency would continue to try to work the issue. Ken and I flew back to DC at eleven, landing at two-thirty. By three o’clock I was back at my desk.

I convened a quick meeting with Blackie, Wade, Don Ossinger and Dale on the NAR situation, and then went into a meeting with Phil Barbarello, Brian Zilonis, and Mike Blake who are working on the requirements under the Operational Error MOU. I think they’re come up with some very interesting proposals, and we look to be testing the new indicators before the end of April.

I was on and off the phone all afternoon, which made me horribly and rudely late for my meeting with Bob Taylor, David Sandbach and Jim D’Agati reference some engineer issues. Once we got that position squared away I met privately with Bob to discuss his department, and then booted him out so I could catch up on my mail and messages.

Friday morning and still no NATCA.net. The natives are getting restless. I fiddled around the office for two hours until eight, when I joined Doug Church for breakfast with Steve Power from the Wall Street Journal. We had a great meeting.

When we got back to the office it looked like someone had turned my office into a movie studio, which they pretty much had. CNN set up took thirty minutes, and then we filmed for about an hour. They are doing a special on delays and the system, and I’ve got some small part to play in their overview. I hope it turns out well.

At noon I walked over to DC Coast for lunch with Richard Gordon, formerly with NATCA and now an independent consultant. The meeting was very cordial. Richard knows all about the animosity and rancor that accompanied his departure from NATCA and subsequent contract with the FAA, but if I’ve learned anything in the last six months it’s that life’s too short to hold grudges for too long.

I returned to the office to contact Bill Peacock, who advised me of actions over at FAA with respect to NAR. I spoke with Blackie, and then caught up on some calls and contacts.

Ruth and I interviewed another candidate for the Communications Director position, and afterwards met up with Susan and Barry Krasner to discuss the building’s finances. Barry’s been in town all week doing negotiations for some of our new bargaining units and he sure is good to have around.

I lost track of time and before I knew it Christina Angarola from Hill and Knowlton was waiting to meet with Ruth, Jose and I to discuss the framework of our advocacy plan. I was interrupted several times by phone calls concerning NAR, but the meeting proceeded smoothly with or without me. The meeting concluded at five-thirty, and the participants scattered into the traffic. I took a last phone call from Bill Peacock, who advised me that the agency had met for two hours to try to resolve our differences on the NAR and Consolidation MOUs, and had been unable to make any progress.

Bryan Thompson called me on the way home and shared a bit of good news. He and his fellow web wizards have been adding content to our new web site daily, and he has set up an area of Ruth and I to post our weekly updates. Hallelujah!!! When I got home I promptly loaded those I had on hand into the database, and set to work on this one.

I plan to go into the office tomorrow to get some bookwork done, and hopefully Sunday I can take the day off and relax. I expect to talk to Jane sometime this weekend, too. Our current disagreement isn’t exactly a minor one, and I want to make sure we understand each other. I’ve also got to spend some time this weekend preparing my testimony for the congressional hearing next Thursday on delays.

Best wishes, and we’ll talk to you all again very soon.

John



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