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|Weekly Update for <!----Enter Date Bellow ****************>March 30, 2001<!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>|
The one day off last weekend was just enough time to do laundry, reload the wheelie bag, and reset my watch. Sunday morning at six it was back to the airport for another flight out west to Las Vegas. People ask me how Switzerland was, and I tell them it was florescent and 72. Vegas promises to be more of the same.
The evening reception for Facrep Training was noteworthy. It seems like I knew half the class, and we even had five engineers enrolled this month. Dee, Dick, Joe, Dennis, Glen...Iím starting to know most of the membership on sight. The NEB Meeting was scheduled to coincide with the class again, and the RVPs had the opportunity to mingle with their respective activists and socialize with them, as well. After the reception we managed to go out to dinner, even though it was almost ten pm Vegas time(seven am the next morning in Geneva, where I had been only a day or two ago!)
Monday morning I forced myself up at the usual time to jump on the internet and retrieve my email. The volume is increasing again, thanks to the Communications Committee. Please encourage every member to sign up for NATCA.net, our premier communications tool. My personal goal is to see half the union online in the next three years. If you havenít been to our new website yet, you owe it to yourself to check it out, apply for access to the Memberís Only area, and prepare to get blown away by the quality and quantity of information. Searchable databases, facrep listings, arbitrations, and more than I can mention. Itís not enough to have one or two of us online, folks. We need to be able to jump on the internet at three in the morning and find out how they solved our issues in New York...or Guam. Join the information revolution...join NATCA.net.
The phone and pager kept me hopping until nine, when I opened Facrep Training with an hour and a half of briefing for the forty activists. As always I was gratified and humbled by the commitment and dedication of our greatest resource...the activist.
After the briefing I met with Bob Taylor, Director of Labor Relations, to discuss a whole host of issues ranging from official time for Lobby Week to an Oceanic Liaison to some National Office personnel issues. We got squared away on these and some other topics, and Bob went off to teach LMR 101 to the class. I grabbed my gear and went up to my room to return phone calls.
Monday afternoon I took off, and took a quick ride out to Hoover Dam with Jill and Dave Daniel. We took the dam tour, looked at some dam exhibits and pretty much went over the whole dam thing. When I got back I spent a couple hours on the phone with Phil, Jane, and played phone tag with Mike Hull, the new ATX Liaison.
Tuesday morning I got up extra early to do some ďEast CoastĒ work before the NEB Meeting started. I spoke with Mike Hull on a grievance settlement, Jane, Ken Montoya, Doug Church, and saved three or four messages for later (including Mike Blakeís, who I just noticed I didnít call back. Sorry, Mike! Iíll call you Monday.)
The NEB Meeting started at nine, and the first morning was spent working on our organizational goals, as laid out during our team-building back in late 2000. We are moving forward on developing a playbook for the NEB, on uniformity of CBA application throughout the regions, on an arbitration database, on surveying the membership, on communications and training and fighting back privatization. I think setting goals as a group and then evaluating ourselves along the way is a very productive use of our time, and helps propel us towards completion of our stated objectives.
Tuesday afternoon was spent dealing with agenda items, and Iíll leave it to the minutes to brief you on what was accomplished. Late Tuesday afternoon we received a briefing from Skip Grieser, our ATTE specialist. While NATCA has contractually embraced ATTE, the agency has failed to fund or administer this course properly. We will be having more discussions on this issue in the very near future.
I spent Tuesday evening on the phone with various individuals, managing our response to the hearing set for tomorrow. We finally secured a copy of FMAís remarks, and we moblilized PR, Legislative, Communications and a few well placed activists to refute their rubbish. You can find FMAís testimony on NATCA.net, and if you didnít have a reason to join the PAC, you do now.
We are working overtime to repudiate FMAís reckless claims that errors, deviations, and everything else under sun is the fault of the controller pay agreement. The FMA has come out against your pay. (Which, by the way, is the only reason THEY got a pay raise, but they are too naive or stubborn to realize that.) They are also weepy because the FAA is moving to a ten-to-one controller to supervisor ratio. Being fiscally responsible Iím sure theyíll be thrilled when we join forces with Secretary Mineta to put into practice his recommendation that we close six regional offices, saving almost 100 million dollars a year.
Wednesday morning I again worked the phones to get ready for the hearing, and I think our predawn planning paid off. While the middle-level drones seemed to enjoy their fifteen minutes of fame we are working every day on our issues on Capitol Hill. Wednesday morning the NEB worked through the agenda covering issues ranging from political contributions to privatization to training failures to MOUs. We discussed Lobby Week, overtime distribution and a whole raft of internal affairs.
Wednesday afternoon we received a briefing from Dale Wright on an NTSB proposal the Safety and Technology Department has been working on. The Board will consider the proposal, and we gave Dale some instructions on how to proceed from this point.
After Daleís presentation we provided time to our members for their opportunity to address the board, in accordance with NATCA Bylaw A-1. Bob Marks spoke on the need to give dissatisfied FMA members an avenue for resigning from FMA and joining NATCA as Associate Members. Chuck Zapf addressed the board on inequities arising from MOUs that exclude facilities outside the CONUS. Bob Butterworth articulated the need for NATCA to press the agency to continue to hire PATCO controllers. Curtis Warren expressed the Palm Springs Localís feelings with respect to a move to SCT. Bob Noble told the board about his facilityís problems with the reclassification upgrade process, and Tony Yushinsky spoke, as well. The remainder of the afternoon was consumed with board business, and we adjourned late and agreed to meet early in an effort to finish our agenda.
I spent a good deal of the evening on the phone discussing the hearing. I spoke with many, many people, including friends and foes at very high levels. Rather than announce those discussions for all to see I will ask that you trust me when I tell you that we are working very hard on your behalf and making headway against the ill-advised musings of our enemies.
Thursday morning was the usual phone/cell phone/mail/email routine, started earlier to take into account the time change. The NEB met from eight am until after four, and we finished our agenda in time to accommodate a few untimely items. Following the NEB meeting we adjourned to a reception for the Facreps, hosted by the Unum Life Insurance Company.
I hope that every member will consider signing up for the newest benefit available to NATCA members only, Long Term Disability Income Protection Insurance. This insurance covers you if you lose your medical. It covers you if you lose your job. It covers you like a blanket, and for a very limited time it is available with no medical questions and no physical. It is the finest product of itís kind Iíve ever seen, and I hope everyone will see the value in this super program.
Not only are new disabilities covered, but pre-existing ones, as well. Let me quote to you from the policy information: ďItís important to note that should you become disabled as the result of any other condition, you would be covered under NATCAís program. Pre-existing conditions are only subject to a 24 month probationary period. Once youíre insured under NATCAís program for 24 consecutive months, even a pre-existing condition will be covered provided the disability occurs after the 24th month of coverage.Ē
This incredible benefit will only have open season from now until the 18th of April. You owe it to yourself and your family to consider this insurance. Iím sure youíll agree itís well worth it.
Thursday afternoon I also spoke with Bill Peacock regarding the Atlanta consolidation and some issues surrounding Columbus and Macon. I also discussed NCT with him, and Bill committed to getting back to me after working the issues from his end.
Thursday evening the NEB scattered to the four winds, and I went out to dinner with some friends. My cell phone interrupted my salad, and it was then that I found out about the accident in Aspen. Carol Branaman was mobilizing NATCA from the Denver airport, where she had just landed, and in short order Carol had contacted me, the National Office, the Safety and Tech Department and most importantly she had put in the call for the CISM team. We achieved party status with the NTSB so we certainly wonít have any comment until the investigation is concluded, but our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and with our brothers and sisters at the facility, as well.
Friday morning I got up at four-thirty to catch an early flight home, and on the bus to the airport I got Dale Wrightsí page concerning another accident, this one in Charlotte. I returned his call to insure we were responding to that one appropriately, and then headed eastward, towards home.
Cleveland Hopkins never looked so good, in spite of the fact that itís apparently still winter here. Overcast and forty-ish, but the hot tub is hot and Iíve got chores to do.
As you can tell from reading this update not everyone is thrilled with you these days. Enough about them. Let me tell you about some people who think you are doing a fantastic job under very trying conditions with limited resources and explosive traffic growth: The Secretary of Transportation thinks you are the worldís finest. The FAA Administrator is your biggest supporter, and took a beating for you in the House this past week. The president of your Union is telling anyone who will listen that you are so impressive and extraordinary that perfection has become de rigueur.
Thank you for your efforts. Best wishes, and weíll talk to you next week.