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|Weekly Update for <!----Enter Date Bellow ****************>May 18, 2001<!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>|
What a fantastic week I’ve got to report to you. I’m sure you’re all
interested in the juicy details, and I’m only too happy to oblige. I will
caution you, though: This update promises to be a long one.
Sunday Jill and I drove back to DC after spending the weekend at our home outside of Cleveland. The drive takes six and a half hours and covers four hundred miles of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. Over the river and through the woods, as it were.
Monday morning it was into the office extra early, beating even the six o’clock hour, to prepare for the coming week. I dispensed with the email in short order, cleaned out the in-box (Ha! Don’t tell Adell…) and started into some special projects.
I called Don Brown in Atlanta to discuss some brainstorm activity related to safety. First I got the answering machine, that savvy devil. You sure can tell the short staffed facilities, can’t you? Everybody lets the machine get it. Once I’d been screened I had the pleasure of talking to Don’s wife Darlene, who put me in touch with her hubby. We had a very pleasant conversation, and I sent some hard copy off to Don to take a look at. As I told Don, we have let the Safety side of “Safety and Technology” atrophy somewhat, and I’m turning my attention to that Department now in order to make it the very best that it can be.
Speaking of which, I held brief meetings with two employees at the National Office to inform them of my decision to go with a third employee for the vacant Safety and Tech Administrative Assistant position, and then I let Pauline Hines know she was the choice. Pauline will join S&T as soon as we can backfill behind her in the Accounting Department.
I met with Adell to go over some schedule snafus and subtleties, and then took a few calls from constituents. At ten I convened a meeting with Jeff Walukonis, Pat Forrey and Tim Haines top discuss pay issues including NCT and the recently completed retro piece.
I coordinated with Ken on some Lobby Week issues, including Senator Cleland’s bill (S871) to rectify an inequity in the CSRS, then called Rich Phillips regarding CIP. I left Rich a message, and just now realized I haven’t heard back from him. I’ll have to give it another whirl.
I spoke with Bill Peacock before he went down to the A80 Atlanta TRACON media day. I really tried to get down to that but with the volume of work, appointments and Lobby Week I couldn’t swing it. I hope to visit the facility some day very soon.
I sat down, finally, to write some opening remarks for NATCA In Washington, and almost even typed a few. The NIW participants were trickling into the District, and a few of them came over to see their new building. I saw Bob Snuck, Doug Scadden, Mark Mulder and Mark DiPalmo, Tom Zaccheo and Leslie Warfield, Jim Beadling, Rod Heironymous, Dan Ellenberger, Barb Walton, and the entire NVT, who were in for the week. I’m not even close to naming all my visitors here, mind you, in fact I quit writing down names very early in the mission. It was fantastic to see all my old and new friends, and welcome them to the House That Their Labor Built.
I spoke at length with Frances Alsop in Accounting about their vacancy, and we may be able to fill it relatively quickly. I did some additional coordination with Adell, and spoke with Alan Clendenin about the details of the week, and tried again to capture some thoughts for my opening.
At six pm we headed over to the Irish Times for the Opening Reception, sponsored by ARINC and Raytheon. I guess there was some confusion…when we said we wanted them to help sponsor a Member’s Reception, they thought, “Members of Congress.” We meant, “Members of NATCA.” Of course there was no issue, since we’re doing a Congressional reception, too, and our friends at ARINC and Raytheon were welcome there as well.
The Irish Times was a great function. Hot, sweaty, crowded, loud, smoky…the typical gathering of three hundred of your closest friends. There was free food and beverages for the attendees, and loud music you had to shout over to be heard. There was also a Policeman’s function in DC, so the place was crawling with officers, as well. I love that in a reception…loud-mouth controllers cooped up with a room full of pistols. The revelry lasted until late in the evening, and Jill and I left near nine to join Joe Fruscella and some of his representatives for dinner. What started out early ended late, with Jill and I getting home around midnight.
Tuesday morning we went back in to the office at my regular hour, which, considering both of us getting ready meant a four-thirty wake up. Jill has taken annual to be at Lobby Week, thereby fulfilling another one of my campaign promises: Buy one Bull, get a Mrs. Bull free. We got into the office at six-thirty, and after finishing my email I began some mild panic over the remarks I hadn’t prepared for the speech I was going to give in three hours. I had most of it done, mind you, and I spent the remainder of my time polishing it up.
We hopped in a cab around eight, and mingled at the Hyatt with the attendees until nine when NATCA Legislative Committee Chairman Alan Clendenin officially kicked off NATCA In Washington 2001. He was very kind and gracious in his introduction, and I took the stage to fire up the troops and set the tone.
Unfortunately, I ran out of remarks before our first speaker ran into the room, so I took questions and answers from the group until cued from stage right. Better late than never, Norm Mineta, the Secretary of Transportation joined us, and made it clear to the gathering where he hoped to lead the agency. He gave a great speech.
Norm was followed by Tom Chapman from Southwest Airlines and Ed Merlis from ATA, each of whom I caught ever so briefly. I spent thirty minutes in the business center banging out my intro for our luncheon speaker, and at noon we welcomed the strongest advocate for labor in the federal government to our luncheon, none other than FAA Administrator Jane Garvey.
Jane gave a great talk, was a gracious guest, and stayed to join us for lunch. After lunch Fuzz Bhimji, president of CATCA, the Canadian air traffic controller’s union, gave a thirty minute speech on the horrors of privatization that his membership is encountering. I think Fuzz could have gone on for hours, and the audience left on break looking a little more wide-eyed than they’d arrived.
The next afternoon speaker was Congressman Jim Matheson, a Democrat from Utah, who described how Steve Fletcher, the NATCA Northwest Mountain Legislative Committee member, had helped and supported and nurtured his campaign when nobody else believed in him. NATCA has a friend for life because of Steve’s efforts, and it’s a real testimony to the power of grass roots political activism.
The highlight of my presidency to date came next when I was honored to introduce my union to Senator Max Cleland, Democrat from Georgia. For those of you who don’t know, Max lost both legs and his right arm in a grenade explosion in Vietnam. Max defines courage, grace and power. As I told the activists, “They build marble statues to people like Max in DC.”
He was witty, charming, and gracious with his speech and his time. It leaves you somewhat limp when a United States Senator, a wheelchair bound veteran of war who lost three limbs in battle, tells you that as air traffic controllers your country owes you a debt of gratitude. My goodness. Max introduced a bill on our behalf, you know, and next year when he comes up for re-election we need to step up and work to make sure he comes back to the Senate.
I escorted Max out so I missed both Karen Ackerman, the Deputy Political Director for the AFL/CIO, and Congressman John Cooksey, a Louisiana Republican. The first day’s speakers were a smash, and there was high praise for the quality and caliber of the presentations.
The Regional Dinners were next, spread all over town, and I made a strategic decision to head over to 7th and D Streets to hit the three that were in close proximity. I visited the Great Lakes, then Southern, and ended up in Mrs. Bull’s Eastern Region (as an accompanying spouse…) Jane Garvey stopped in to see us, and graciously mingled with everyone present. Jane was overly kind enough to agree to visit the other two dinners nearby, so we retraced my steps, with Jane, Bill Peacock, Jill and I off to the Southern Region Dinner followed by the Great Lakes, with the ladies in heels the whole time.
Administrator Garvey could not have been more gracious and kind with her time. She spoke with anyone who wanted her, posed for pictures, discussed issues, and enjoyed the company of friends. We ended up back on the street some time later, and despite the late hour I said goodbye to Jane and Bill and took Jill back to her region to try and catch up to dinner. When we got back to the restaurant, my right-hand man Phil Barbarello informed me that he had a right-hand man, as well---Brian Zilonis, from Chicago Center. Let me see if I’ve got this straight…my right-hand mans’ right hand man? I LOVE that.
As other dinners ended people made their way to the Eastern Regions’, and before you know it there was a maelstrom of activists. Half an hour later Jane came through the front door again, and spent still more time with a very happy bunch. I have no idea what time we left but it was late, and I know the alarm’s already set for tomorrow.
You know the drill. Up, out, in, email, etc. At nine on Wednesday morning we listened as Ruth Marlin discussed, “Positive Solutions to Solve Air Traffic Challenges.” Ruth has been under the weather all week and still gave her best speech ever. She was great.
I worked with Alan Clendenin on some issues, spoke with a few people who wanted to discuss the previous evening’s dinners, and I missed out on the panel discussion by Hill staffers as well as Ken Montoya’s Issues Briefing. I’m told both went well, and they were followed by some practical Hill and lobbying information from Bob McClean of REM Services.
During the morning session Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez from California stopped by. She was prepared to speak or mingle at our discretion, and came at the behest of her good friend Howie Rifas. Howie worked for Loretta when nobody believed in her, either, and now here she was, looking for him and wanting to help us. Two down, five hundred thirty three to go.
Our luncheon speaker was Congressman Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat from Hawaii. I introduced him, as well as welcoming some of his constituents and my friends from the islands. Bill, Gloriane, Jim and Bill occupied the head table, and it was great to see them again. Congressman Abercrombie was sharp, funny and very direct. He spoke from the heart and left no doubt among those in attendance what needs to be done. Neil has been a great friend to our union, and we’re going to be there for him in ’02, as well.
I introduced the Honorable Congressman at noon, which made me late for our National Executive Board Meeting, scheduled to begin at…noon. Adell is still working on perfecting the cloning technique, but one of these days I will be both places at once!
The NEB Meeting stretched from noon-thirty until five, and I’ll leave it to the minutes to bring you up to date on our business. At five we bolted, heading back up to the Cannon House Office Building for a Congressional Reception at five-thirty.
What a great reception. I had the chance to talk with many Senators and Congressionals about our issues, and was grateful that Jane, Monte, Peter and others made it over to join us. There were dozens of staffers and representatives there, and hundreds of activists from every region. It was a fantastic function in a grand, ornate, gold-leafed room.
One or two congressional contacts even took me aside to let me know that FMA had been up on the Hill that day, looking to get through the back door what they will never get through the front…negotiability. Of course they were treated politely, even as they were told that as an association they have no entitlement to negotiate, or to be even to be present during negotiations. They even want a seat on the MAC. They crack me up.
It’s really kind of cute that the FAA Conference of FMA can bring one or two people into town to work their issues once a month or so…as long as they know NATCA’s Legislative staff spends the other twenty-eight days on the Hill refuting their wild accusations. I’m sure they’re working on a study to blame the looming energy crisis on the ten-to-one supervisor’s ratio or the CIC agreement, further marginalizing these zealots and damaging their credibility (if that’s even possible anymore.)
After the reception Jill and I headed for the western suburbs and joined some friends from Dulles for dinner and wind-down time. We were outnumbered by blisters and sore feet about four to one, but a great time was had over fresh chips and salsa and Mexican food. Another day, another late night.
I certainly didn’t capture all of Lobby Week for you, from the speakers to the visits to the activity. NATCA members visited every congressional office, I think. Support was gathered for our bill, our positions, and my candidacy on the MAC. The New Mexico delegation has even set up a meeting with Senator Dominici and I to discuss my candidacy, and we’ll get that done next week.
All in all, NATCA In Washington 2001 was a smashing success. The Legislative Committee, the Legislative Department, and the staff from the National Office and regional offices contributed to our best effort yet on Capitol Hill. We will be back as often as it takes to insure that our voices are heard on our issues, and to drown out the voices of the naďve, the uneducated and the reckless.
Thursday morning, and this week is starting to feel like a marathon. Six thirty for coffee and email, followed by a detailed meeting at seven with Adell to set up all the new things on my calendar. Lobby Week always adds appointments on the Hill and in the trade, and we want to maximize the opportunity.
Ed Wytkind from the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL/CIO came over at eight for a meeting, and we discussed the recent OPM decision on the AFSCME contract and it’s implications for our bargaining units. Ed agreed to broker a meeting with AFSCME on the issue and I look forward to working that one with him.
We also discussed the PATCO rehire issue, and I advised Ed that I was beginning to press the Agency to increase the number and percentages of ex-PATCO controllers the FAA hires. I’ve had several discussions on this subject at very high levels, and I asked Ed to act on behalf of the AFL to assist me in my efforts. Ed and I will be working together to move this issue forward in the Agency, the Administration and on Capitol Hill.
At eight-thirty I met with Jerry Whitaker, who was kind and gracious about the fact that I had told him to, “come on over at eight.” ((Memo to self: Do not ever, EVER get involved with calendar items without Adell. EVER.))
We met with Mike Hull from ATX until almost nine, and then it was time again for the NEB meeting. Mike briefed me on the way down on two issues bubbling to the surface, and have I mentioned how much I love Mike Hull, and how much I love someone who can brief me as we walk, drinking coffee?
As a group I think the National Executive Board is hitting it’s stride, and we made short work of our agenda. The synergy is really beginning to show, and I’m very encouraged by the leadership your RVPs are showing. They are quick to work, happy to take on additional chores to help out, and we are getting a boatload of work done.
After the NEB meeting Joe Fruscella mentioned he was flying out of BWI so I volunteered to drive him up there. I needed a couple hours in traffic to clear my head! I got Joe to his plane and retreated to our apartment for a submarine sandwich and some pages and email. I finished up just as Mrs. Bull came in from vectoring on the 2-10 shift. We basically said hello, goodnight, and passed out in an exhausted heap.
Guess what? Friday. Guess when? Six-thirty. Guess who? Jill from ABC, Barrett Byrnes from JFK, Mike Witte from Sacramento, Dave Stock, Dale Wright, Steve Lanier, Adell, Denny Rose, Steve Entis…just your standard-issue dozen or so messages. I get rolling on these, and begin to unbury the pile that used to be an in-box. I gave up believing how much mail comes into my office, even after Adell weeds out the three hundred pounds I don’t need to see every day.
Bill Peacock came over at nine thirty, and we discussed a whole range of issues. A few of them are NCT pay setting, A80 consolidation issues, ZTL’s new overtime budget (thanks for the help on that Mike Bauer,) ZJX’s need for resources, C90, tax liability issues, and PATCO rehires. We discussed some other issues as well best left proprietary for now. It was a great meeting, and with Bill out next week and my schedule full we’ll probably set something up for ten days from now to follow up.
After Bill left I had the opportunity to meet with Mike Connor from NARI. For those of you who don’t know, NARI is the research group NATCA founded several years ago. As a matter of fact, Norm Mineta is a former Board member of NARI. Anyway, Mike came by to give me an update on some projects they’ve been working on, and to discuss other projects that may be in the offing. I gave Mike some things to think about and consider, and we’ll be discussing them in more depth some other day.
I met with Ken, Ruth and Jose to go over some strategy and tactics for a few things we have in the hopper, and the last I saw of Ruth she was surfing the web for mortality rates so you know it’s got to be something good. I received an update from Lew Zeitz on a member who lost his medical and is being fired, which is a shame in light of our new Long Term Disability insurance opportunity. With the open enrollment period ending this month, I encourage you to investigate this insurance. Once the open enrollment period ends, it’s gone.
After a quick swing through Accounting and Training I saw Candy Derr from Membership, who gave me the applicants for the Scholarship Program. Ruth and I will be reading the essays over the next couple of weeks, and I will be administering the program in accordance with the Constitution sometime in early June.
It was wonderful to see so many dedicated members in Washington this week. They worked hard, grabbed our issues, and stormed the Hill en masse. We got great publicity for our events, and many staffers have commented on what a positive event we’d hosted. I could never name all the great people much less all the volunteers, but you know who you are, and I thank you. Your brothers and sisters should know, too, because they stay behind in the facilities working so you can come to DC and work on their behalf. We had Engineers and other units represented in force at Lobby Week, and I think it was our best ever.
These are dangerous times indeed for us and for our issues. Thankfully, functions like NATCA In Washington bring out the very best in our union. Men and women from all over the country work together for a common purpose, accepting of their differences and committed to the best possible outcome for the working men and women they represent. Back in the facilities, people trade days off, work short, and generally pitch in to get it done so their representatives can get educated and get in the game. Together, there is nothing we can’t do. I couldn’t be prouder of you all, or of our union. Thanks for reading this novel, and we’ll talk to you all next week.