<!----Enter Date Bellow *****************> Weekly Update for April 13, 2001 <!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>
Weekly Update for <!----Enter Date Bellow ****************>April 13, 2001<!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>
As Elizabeth Barrett Browning said, ďMeasure not the work until the day's out and the labor done.Ē Well, it is and it is, so letís measure:

Sunday was spent at the Cleveland Clinic with Jill and her dad. We transferred him here from another hospital, and they are feverishly doing his workups to see what, if anything, they can do for him. His spirits are high, and he seems almost his curmudgeonly, cantankerous self. I hop the late flight back to Baltimore and drive home to Virginia, leaving Jill with her dad for the week.

Monday morning I jump out of bed at four and almost sprint into the office. What with Geneva, Facrep Training and the family emergency it seems like Iíve been gone forever, and Iím anxious to get back into the groove. I catch up on my email and regular mail, breaking the rhythm long enough to sign a couple hundred letters welcoming new members. By the way, thereís still a few weeks left in our recruitment drive, and we can use every voice in the battles which loom before us. Please take a few moments to sit down with your co-workers and share with them some of the successes we enjoy as a result of our Union.

Adell is equally early, and I get caught up fairly quickly on the goings-on. My voice mailbox is brimming with messages, and as soon as the decent hour arrives, I call Tampa Joe Formoso, Eric Owens, Mike Whitte, Rodney Turner, Bob Taylor, Michael Matthews, Ken Montoya, Kevin McGrath, and a few others right there in the office.

I meet with Ken for a quick follow up to some discussions heís been having on the Hill. We discuss the capacity benchmarks formulate a plan for getting some privatization data to Congressman Oberstarís staff. We also discussed the budget, and begin work on securing a bound copy so we can scrutinize it line by line.

I see Barry Krasner before he starts negotiations for the AOS200, 500 and AVN folks from Oklahoma City and the Tech Center. I canít let him go without giving him grief about the building which bears his name. I think I grieved him about the heat or the air, I donít remember which. He told me the last available space was recently rented. Finally, after a year...weíre full.

I hook up with Bryan Thompson who gives me an update on web issues, and asks for some help getting information from Safety and Technology up on the site. Done! I also coordinate with Jeff Walukonis to put a link to his reclass website on natca.org

Ruth and I get Steve Davis from Milwaukee on the speakerphone to discuss Oshkosh, bígosh, and then itís a meeting with Bob Taylor to discuss his new hires and some budget issues in his department. I caught Barry before he left to give me an update on negotiations, and headed for home around six. Iím out of practice, and Iím beat.

Tuesday looks like a war zone on my PDA, but at six in the morning not a creature is stirring. The early hours are my favorite ones, when I can really get some work done while the world wakes up.

I meet early with Ruth to discuss some legislative issues and concerns, and then get an early draft of the NEB Meeting minutes to begin working on some issues. I forward an update on external organizing to the NEB, along with a spreadsheet detailing several dozen major players in the privatization battle and their respective stances.

Our bi-weekly Directorís meeting featured everything from furniture issues to a potential employee recognition program to Lobby Week to summer interns to the seven week-long training sessions weíve already held this year to contract negotiations to our recruitment campaign and the loss of license insurance. As always, these meetings are very productive and help keep the National Office team working together toward our goals.

Jill calls, and the news is not good. The only treatment for her País leukemia is chemotherapy, and at his age and condition it would do more harm than good. Actually, they wonít even administer it for fear it would fatally damage his heart. He is terminally ill, and his prognosis is bleak.

The NEB telcon at noon lasted two and a half hours, and an hour and a half into the mission I traded places with Ruth, who was down at the All Hands Meeting. She took the telcon, I took the meeting, and in short order both were over.

After the telcon I slipped Bill Shedden into my office for a few minutes. He told me about a meeting next Monday at the Western Pacific Regional office with David Stock to discuss some of Davidís concerns with new airspace redesign around Phoenix.

Carol Hallett, president of ATA came over to NATCA with John Meenan, her Senior VP for Industry Policy. We discussed lobbying for 1000 new controllers, the current political landscape, and we showed them our new commercials and print ads. Again, the discussion was very productive and educational for both sides. We agree to continue to work on issues where we can find common ground, and put off our disagreements for another, less fractious time.

I found out from Barry how motivated the contract team was today, and I got a full briefing from them at dinner on their progress to date. I expect they will build on our previous successes as they craft their very first CBA.

Wednesday morning I finished up my mail and my first dozen cups of coffee just in time to welcome John Shea to the office. We had a very productive discussion about his hearing on Capitol Hill, my hearing on Capitol Hill, and some interesting developments in the STARS program. We also brainstormed the rollout of the mobile STARS demonstrator.

I grabbed a few minutes with Bob Taylor to plot some LR issues, and then discussed some general issues with Ruth. Jeff Walukonis stopped by, and we discussed his web page and some reclass issues. Jeff works very hard for all of us, and he takes the brunt of anger when facilities donít get the news they long to hear. Unfortunately, most of that anger is misdirected at Jeff, our fellow union member, and sometimes it degenerates into personal attacks. It saddens me to see that happen, and to the extent that folks can keep the discussions on this issue civil and professional, well...letís just say Iíd appreciate it.

I had a meeting with Bob Taylor and Barry Krasner to huddle up on their contract negotiations, and then talked to Blackie Blackmer about our new AMASS rep and the overlap period. Blackie also briefed me on a LAHSO meeting held in Chicago, and I see a very dim light at the end of the tunnel. I hope it isnít a trijet taxiing into position at the other end....

Blackie and I discussed personnel issues in his department, and I communicated to him our need to see more on the web site. Safety and Tech has a few openings, and their staffing need is critical. If any of you know of someone with either a Safety or a Technology background who might be interested in full time employment with our national office, they should give us a call. Weíd like to find a retired controller and reverse-engineer the Safety and Tech issues, rather than the other way around.

I stuck my head into the meeting of the Potomac Project reps and said hello to all my friends. I managed to sign up for a union meeting in Baltimore, meet the National rep on the project, and score another great picture---this one of Air Force One---from Dulles Facrep Paul Rinaldi. Ajax sparred with me over some verbiage in Pay Rule 59, but I think it was just to keep him in practice.

I called Bill Peacock on a few pressing matters, talked to Dave Caldwell, talked to Dale Wright, and then worked on the bulk of my messages. Aviation Daily, Aviation Week, Mike Hull, Rodney, Carol, Amr, Willie, Susan, and a few others too sensitive to mention.

I received a call from Chad Padgett, Congressman Don Youngís aide in Alaska, to discuss my perception of the progress being made in the post-CMP world. We had a very frank and earnest discussion, and I will be working not only with the Alaska office but with the Congressmanís staffer on the committee, as well.

The building is abuzz. The contract negotiations are on the first floor, the Potomac Project is in the big conference room on five, and the Radar Tower Coalition is in the executive conference room. Leslie Warfield from the RTC stopped in to see me, and I congratulated her on her recent election as Facrep of La Guardia. Leslie and I had a chance to discuss contract interpretation, the FAAís work on the LGA issue, schedule options and several other topics. Leslie is a tireless worker, and sheís always willing to listen and consult with her fellow elected activists. She has really grown and matured as the Facrep, and IĎm glad her members agree with me and trusted her with another term.

Thursday morning at four Jill calls and asks me to bring her some things, so I jump up to pack a bag for her. Iím in and out of the office by seven, and at seven-thirty I enjoy a breakfast meeting with Jim Pearce, the President and CEO of ARINC. We discussed the MAC, the COO position, the oceanic project, CPDLC, and privatization. While Jim favors a government corporation he does not favor privatization external to the fed.

I made it back to the office just in time for a morning meeting with Pete Kovalick to discuss some staffing issues, and then I got on the phone for a spell with Alan Clendenin to discuss NATCA in Washington, and a few logistical snafus along the way. Nothing major, but itís important that we try to nip them in the bud before little problems become big ones.

I joined a meeting in Ruthís office already in progress with Hill and Knowlton, and immediately following that meeting I slid over to Donna Gunterís office to discuss a personnel problem.

I consulted again with Blackie Blackmer before packing my bag, and David Sandbach stopped by the office to drop off the signed MOU on engineer position distribution. By two oíclock I was in my car, wheeling onto New York Avenue for the drive up to Baltimore.

My flight left almost an hour late, and I didnít arrive in Cleveland until five-thirty. Jill picked me up and we went immediately to the hospital, where Bert Varner lost his twelve day battle with leukemia at 6:55. He was 84, and he died peacefully in his sleep.

Bert was a union man all his life, and he operated the crane that pours hot steel into molds for thirty years. He retired to a small shack of a house, from which he drove every day on his trips around the neighborhood and into town. Bert loved to drive. He also loved the Cleveland Indians, and he loved flowers. Spring was his favorite time, I think, because he could get some nursery stock and put it in the barrels out front, and make his little place look modestly cheery. The neighborhood had long since turned from bad to worse, but Bert wouldnít hear of moving in with us. He just continued to play the lottery and dream.

I got to practice how to be a man when my father died, on election day 1992. I eulogized him myself. When my mother died last August I held my sisters as they sobbed, and used the lessons Iíd learned from my fatherĎs passing to help others in their time of sorrow. I used those lessons again at Scott Bohnís funeral, and again at Charlie Buntingís. But that tutorial wore off too quickly, Iím afraid. You see, when I tried to catch my poor wifeís breaking heart I suddenly realized that mine was broken, too. I really liked the old codger, and he was sweet and funny in an unintentional sort of way. We had some really great times together. Iím going to miss him.

Today, Friday, was spent running the errands that accompany such sadness. A new suit for Bert. Hard choices and necessary decisions. Phone calls and family matters and airport runs. The viewing and the funeral will both take place at the Hempel Funeral Home, 373 Cleveland Avenue, Amherst, Ohio, 44001. The viewing will be Monday, the funeral Tuesday, and I plan to try to be back in the office on Wednesday morning.

Several people have paged me about floral arrangements. I will always remember the flowers that came to my motherís service, and if anyone would like to send some to Jill and her family they---and I---would be very grateful. Bert liked Ďem, too. If youíre so inclined, you can send them to the funeral home listed above.

For your exceptional patience with me through this most difficult time you all have my undying appreciation and thankfulness. Friday, the 13th...and Good Friday, at that. I hope that this update finds you healthy, happy and full of the joy of life. Eat an extra yellow Peep or chocolate egg for me, OK? God bless you, and weíll see you all next week.

John


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