<!----Enter Date Bellow *****************> Weekly Update for April 27, 2001 <!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>
Weekly Update for <!----Enter Date Bellow ****************>April 27, 2001<!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>
Weekly Update For the Week of April 27, 2001

Has it been a month already? Sunday morning I get up early, throw a couple suits in a carry-on bag, and hustle, bustle and muscle my way out to Las Vegas for another Facility Representative Training Course. I arrive in mid-afternoon, and at seven pm we welcome another forty activists to our most important training class: the one that promises to take you from zero to facrep in five days. The reception is a great chance to meet and mingle with everyone, and even though it’s a dry reception I think a good time is had by all.

Monday morning I held a breakfast meeting with Kevin McGrath, Western Pacific Region RVP. We discussed a whole range of issues, from NCT to CIP to NATCA’s ASI’s to CIP to the NVT. Sometimes it sounds like I’ve joined the acronym of the month club, and every now and again we should probably spell out some of these for first timers.

The meeting with Kevin lasted until nine, and then it was time to officially open the week’s training. I gave my presentation, left the class in the capable hands of the best instructors money can’t buy, and high-tailed it out to the airport to catch a flight back east. The out-and-back isn’t easy on your old pal Johnny the Bull, but I only burn one work day doing it, and the value to me and to the participants is too much to pass up.

During my plane change I had a chance to catch up on several pages and voice mails, and by ten pm I was safely back in the District and hot-footing it out to Casa de Carr in the suburbs.

Tuesday morning the alarm went off at four thirty just like it always does, but for some reason it seemed like I’d managed just two or three minutes of sleep. I crawled on my belly like a reptile for thirty minutes or so, finally dousing myself in the shower and dressing without assistance. I was in the office by six-fifteen, and I was caught up on both email and regular mail by seven in the morning.

Good thing, too, because John Tune from the Central Region called, and we discussed some rather thorny airspace issues he’s facing. I am committed to helping John and the folks in St. Louis with their dilemma.

Adell came in to brief me on the goings-on, and then I met with Ken and Christine to coordinate some issues surrounding my testimony on Capitol Hill next week. We discussed writing the various aviation committees with respect to the Management Advisory Council, and discussed my contacts with the folks at MIT. Ken is working on a meeting for us with both Chairman Rogers and Ken Mead.

Bob Taylor poked his head into the office to brief me on some new bargaining unit issues, as well as a rumor circulating that we are looking to extend the 1998 CBA. We are keeping all options open for 2003, and absolutely no decisions have been made on any of the issues which surround the topic. NATCA will continue to explore every avenue in order to aggressively represent our membership.

I took a few phone calls, including one from Cass Castleberry from the Harris Corporation, they of the VSCS and WAARP. Cass is on the ATCA Board, and we agreed to meet next week to discuss issues of mutual concern. I also had a chance to talk to my good friend Mark DiPalmo at New York Center concerning a press conference they were having with one of their Congressional people on anti-privatization of the oceans. We talked about press coverage, and about his member who works as the DSP rep.

At the Director’s meeting I gave out a quick homework assignment, and asked each Director to email me their department’s accomplishments and works-in-progress for my briefing to the Tri-Regional Love Fest down in Orlando.

Each of the Directors had a full plate of things to discuss, from the new tenant to new furniture needs to summer internships to our recently completed audit to the new Roll Call ad to the upcoming C90 discipline cases. The FAA wanted to send discipline cases out to external legal counsel, but found out they couldn’t. Why not? It seems that work is INHERENTLY GOVERNMENTAL. It’s good to know somebody’s been listening to me.

Back-to-back meetings...from the Directors to the NEB Telcon. We discussed agenda items for the joint ATMT/NEB meeting, playbook issues and an ongoing investigation. The NEB helped me get another slew of appointments made to tech rep and liaison positions, and we’re always looking for help. I went swiftly and silently down the tubes doing the work myself, so I’ve managed to con...eh....convince Dale Wright to take the lead on this project. If you are interested in full or part time work with NATCA, please forward your information to Dale through your RVP.

And while we’re on the subject...if you know a controller with a strong background who’s recently or soon to be retired and who’d like to come work in the National Office in our Safety and Tech department, please have them get in touch with us, as well.

Now that the NEB telcon is over my phone(s) can’t seem to stop ringing. I spoke with Bill Peacock on a variety of issues, and then took a few calls that don’t bear mentioning here.

Since my usual four thirty wakeup had been so difficult on me Tuesday I decided to try something different on Wednesday. I set the alarm for four. I sleep rather soundly, so I usually set my alarm to the “car bomb, West Bank” setting. When it detonated I blasted out of bed, got ready, threw another two suits into the trusty wheelie bag and headed out to the airport to catch a flight down to the Three-Region-Hug-A-Thon.

I arrived around eleven, made it to the hotel around noon, and had sweated through one complete change of clothing by one. I can’t possibly list everyone I ran into, but I had an opportunity to chat with Randy Weiland and Alan Clendenin from the Legislative Committee, Larry Nash from Pensacola, Mike Verderamo from Raleigh, Art Remsik from Peoria, as well as Sam from Cherry Point, Molly from St. Pete, Rocky from Charlotte (smooch smooch to AnneMarie) Clay, Tampa Joe, Barry Conner, KC Leonard (who gave me some hot sauce called “Laughing Bull“) Mark, Todd, Derrick, Pat, Pete Kramer from Greensboro, Chris, Jeff, Darren, Joe Perrone, Mike, Darrell Meachum and Kathy, you name them, I saw them. What a group.

I met with Rodney Turner and the A80 representatives from Atlanta, Macon and Columbus to discuss difficulties they have been having with both local and regional management in implementing consolidated pay rules and other topics relating to the new facility. They gave me extensive documentation to buttress their case, and to disprove allegations that the union is stymieing progress on these important matters.

I plan to meet with the agency at the highest levels early next week to insure they are cognizant of the situation, and to work diligently with them to get these people moving, and splitting, and training. If the current management team at Atlanta and in the Southern Region cannot find a way to work collaboratively in getting that done, I’m certain we can find a management team that is.

I followed up one meeting with another, but then again I didn‘t fly all the way down to Orlando to play Mickey Mouse games, either! The NATCA representatives from the facilities affected by the agency’s proposed future Suncoast TRACON and I met, along with Rodney Turner and Steve Dye.

I explained to the representatives the NEB’s recent policy decision with respect to the Suncoast project, and detailed the reasons for NATCA’s opposition. We discussed some of the issues inherent in any decision of this magnitude, and I answered their questions to the best of my ability. I feel the representatives have a good grasp on what their roles and responsibilities are no matter what the outcome of the agency’s internal decision making process.

Wednesday evening after the Trilateral Bonding Session had recessed I walked out to the pool to find my very great and good friend Ray Gibbons from the Chicago TRACON enjoying the last few filtered glows of sunshine, basking in a 68-degree evening. Soon enough Ray was joined by almost every representative from the Great Lakes Region. When I asked why they’d all migrated out to the pool, their answer was quaint in it’s simplicity: Most of them hadn’t seen any appreciable sunshine or warmth for neigh on eight months now! They were all in shorts, and when they sat in a circle it looked like someone had stolen a white picket fence.

By and by the Great Lakes’ers were joined by the Southern and Southwest Regions---all of whom had great tans, and some of whom had gone in to get heavy coats---and before long the makings of a party were present. Twenty or thirty pizzas later I saw grown men bobbing for adult beverages in a tub full of ice and knew it was time to head inside and put the finishing touches on my speech. I contemplated warning the hotel but apparently Ray had already made peace with their security forces, and in fact it was the hotel who had kindly provided the tub, the ice and the plastic glasses. These Chicago guys, I love ’em.

Thursday morning I started my day in the business center at seven thirty, downloading and printing some desperately needed email. From there it was over to the last day of the NATCA Regional Menage’-a-Tois. All of the presentations were top notch for this training, from Melinda Kim to Lorri Hayes to Alan Clendenin, but this morning’s presenter, Dale Wright, would prove to be particularly useful. Dale’s presentation was how to stay out of jail by filing the correct legal financial forms for your local every year. I must say, he had the audience’s attention. Maybe it was the slides of the ex-facreps in their striped pajamas...

After Dale’s presentation and a short break I had the honor and the privilege of addressing the group. I spoke at length on the state of the Union, and Jeff Wonser from Indy captured most of my remarks elsewhere on NATCA.net, so we’ll leave those for the members to go find.

I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the issues with our facreps and activists, and after my presentation I took questions from the audience for another hour or so. Questions ranged from seniority to organizing to the new NEB, and everyone was kind, respectful of dissent and genuine. Even the spirited debates I heard were polite and courteous. I really appreciated the ability to talk with the lifeblood of the organization, and I am incredibly proud to be your representative. As a former facrep myself I know who does the heavy lifting in this organization: you do.

From the meeting it was back to the airport, where I took the chance to take a tour of Orlando Tower and TRACON. The Facrep, David Johnson took me, Mark Pallone, Rodney Turner and a couple brothers from over at Executive on a tour of the facility. We took an opportunity to sit down with Donna Gropper, the Facility and Hub Manager for Orlando, and to thank her for working hard to keep the relationship collaborative, positive and productive for all involved. Donna runs a very healthy, happy facility. Maybe the FAA will consider cloning her.

After the facility visit it was over to the departure gate, back in the tube, back in the air, back off the tube, back in the tube, back in the air, and back to DC. I was home by ten pm. Four flights in two days, and three of them were early, the fourth on time. The question occurs to me...has anyone ever had to change the tires on their wheelie bags due to use?

Friday morning I was glad to be in the office for another heavy dose of email and regular mail. Adell came in at seven and we caught up, followed smartly by Ruth, who’s been on a bit of a road trip of her own. We caught up, although we could have talked for hours, and then split to get some of our work done.

At eight am I met with Kevin Chamness to discuss the oceans, and the status of the new oceanic equipment that’s in the middle of the competitive bid process. We had a very fruitful and productive discussion.

At nine I met with Matt Hampton, Fidel Cornell and Crystal Patrick from the DOT Inspector General’s office to discuss our National Airspace Redesign MOU. We discussed the finer points of the provisions, and I also discussed the Free Flight initiatives currently in use and forthcoming. We spoke on several other issues concerning other interested parties, but I’ll hold those proprietary for now.

After the meeting I met with Christine and Doug to polish up my bio. I hadn’t paid any attention to it, and suddenly there was a need for a good clean copy to attach to some letters we’re sending out. The one NATCA’s been using since I took office is woefully inadequate, but I’ve been too busy to notice or care until now. We put a new one up on the web site, and we also added it to the dozens of letters I signed today to send out to Congressmen.

While I was working with Christine on the letters Ken managed to firm up some appointments for me next week with key Congressmen on the Committee, so I asked Adell to quickly rearrange my schedule to accomodate that.

I also managed to sign and fax out an addendum to our Operational Error MOU. This addendum, the work of Phil Barbarello, Brian Zilonis, Carol Branaman and Mike Blake, will revolutionize the way we deal with operational errors. We have completely revamped the process, with an emphasis on skill enhancement training and with risk assessment factors that will help all the parties better understand operational errors. The IG loves it, the NTSB loves it, and I'm sure when the FMA gets a look at it for the first time they're going to love it, too.

It's a shame they've been so busy bungling their fifteen minutes of fame, isn't it? I almost feel sorry for them. Their inexperience is truly embarrassing, and they are butchering their members chances of any real progress within the FAA. It comes as no surprise, really, because their social club has no statutory rights to represent or negotiate in any case. FMA reminds me of that bumper sticker I saw as a kid: "If you've got a ten dollar head, wear a ten dollar helmet." There's an awful lot of FMA members wearing a ten dollar helmet right about now.

I know I’m forgetting some highlights, but it’s late and I’m loopy. My week had pretty exciting bookends. The training course for new activists always gets my blood to pumping, because you can see and feel your union growing. The Regional Meeting and Training Session in Orlando got me absolutely giddy at the sight of so many men and women, old hands and new blood, veterans and pups, working together to build our organization from the inside out in an atmosphere of trust, honor and integrity.

Thank you all for your sacrifices on behalf of your fellow workers and your fellow man. They are not unnoticed, and they will never be forgotten. I hope this update finds you all healthy and happy. God bless you all, and we’ll see you again next week.

John




[Back] [Updates]