Weekly Update for May 25, 2001
Weekly Update For The Week of May 25, 2001

It’s the Friday before a three-day weekend so fire up the grill, grab a pack of weenies and get ready for another weekly update.

It was another Sunday start to the week for me out in Las Vegas. I hosted our reception for Facreps at seven at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino, and as always it was good to see a mixture of old hands and new. This meeting was doubly special for me since the Communications Committee was in town to do some work, and I had the opportunity to hang out with them for a bit.

There was also a sizeable National Office contingent in town for various and sundry reasons, ranging from Labor Relations Specialists taking the class to Adell facilitating everyone’s meetings and working with our Network Administrator and communications people. These receptions are a great way to start the week, and give everyone a chance to meet and mingle.

After the reception I met with Greg Llafet and Adell to go over the plans for the remaining classes this year. It’s hard to believe but we’ve only got three basic Facrep classes left this year, and last I heard there were a few spots still open in June. If you’ve got an interest in attending, see your RVP.

Monday morning the phone started chirping at it’s usual four-thirty in Vegas, which is seven-thirty on the East Coast. After dispensing with a few calls I did some work online and headed down to class for the opener. I traditionally give about an hour’s worth of remarks, and this time was no exception. This training is some of the most important work we do as a union, and it’s vital that we keep the course energized and the classes full.

From there it was straight out to the airport for my flight. I always plan a lot of work for the ride so as not to waste too much time, and Monday was no exception. I worked on Sacramento and Pay Rule 59, our Training Failure MOU, layout for the Safety and Tech program summary, Jacksonville Center’s critical staffing needs and caught up on some reading on a dozen different subjects. Two airplane rides and ten hours later I was home, getting in just after eleven pm.

Tuesday morning was pretty standard issue…emailing at six-thirty. My cell phone rang a few minutes before seven, and Bill Holtzman from ZDC told me he was waiting outside to meet me.

Bill and I spent some time discussing CRU-X, and his Executive Summary is already in the hands of the Safety and Tech folks. We’ll be working very closely with Bill as he Tech-reps CRU-X into the field. When he showed up Bill had two large cartons, which he said contained goodies. As he was leaving I mentioned them to him, and he said they were for us. I opened them after he left…doughnuts! Thanks, Bill, for the summary, the briefing, and the fat pills.

I spoke with Ray Thoman over at FAA about the numbers being used in S871. We seem to have a fundamental disagreement with the agency over this, and Ruth will be working to insure we are at least working under the same assumptions.

I talked to Mark Pallone on Conflict Alert and a few other issues, and then got with Ken Montoya on the Cleland Bill and the age 56 language for Treasury and Postal Approps. I took a slew of phone calls from people startled to have gotten me in the office, and then convened an abbreviated Director’s Meeting at ten.

Ken firmed up a political meeting for me with TTD, Fran briefed on their new employee in Accounting, Jose has been working on the Editorial Boards and a secret project, Susan briefed on Jane’s letter on Flexible Spending Accounts (which the FAA still thinks are illegal,) and the meeting adjourned pretty quickly.

I met Blackie to discuss LAHSO and other issues, including us giving NavCanada a FDIO for Winnepeg Center so they can process flight plan information other than the way they do it now…manually. Ahhh…privatization. I bet they ask for one for Toronto before the summers over.

Blackie also gave me an update on “Direct-To,” a conflict probe similar to URET that NASA seems to want to try to install into the next DSR drop. We will continue to work this issue as it develops.

More phone calls, faxes, pages, and I think I emailed something important to somebody before heading over to Rosylln for a meeting with the Boeing folks. Jose and I got a briefing on their project to date, and they were very careful to seek our input. While the Boeing venture is embryonic it is gratifying to see them solicit our feedback and contributions. I look forward to working with Boeing as they evolve their plan into something complimentary for the NAS.

From Boeing I rushed over to National to catch my flight to Chicago, and my perfect record finally ran out. Thunderstorms raked the Washington area, the lights flickered twice in the terminal and the rain came down in buckets. The sky was that sickening ominous green that Midwesterners know and love so well and even the ducks quit flying. You couldn’t swing a dead cat in the terminal without hitting an angry passenger, and I was tempted to grab the PA system and announce “Do any of you people really want to go flying right now” but I restrained myself.

My first flight was cancelled, my second one hopelessly delayed. My third, fourth and fifth flights all diverted to either Richmond or Pittsburgh on the inbound leg leaving me with no outbound. I was six hours into the mission, and I had only managed to get about three hundred yards closer to Chicago than when I’d started. Finally I decided to take a chance and jumped into the presidential limo…OK, so it’s a Ford Explorer with Firestone Wilderness AT radials…and off to Dulles I went.

My sixth flight, this one from Dulles, was cancelled due to a sticky throttle on a 777 of all things, and my seventh and last chance was scheduled to depart around eleven. We boarded at eleven, landed at twelve, and I was at the hotel by one in the morning.

Wednesday morning began with phone calls to both Ray Gibbons and Craig Burzych to talk to them about my plans for the day. Next it was a telephone interview with the Daily Herald, the third largest newspaper in the state of Illinois.

Our morning meeting with Crain’s Chicago Business was cancelled, which worked perfectly for us. Craig sent Phil Rogers from the local NBC affiliate out, and we did an on camera interview near noon that ended up leading the five o’clock news.

At one p.m. Doug Church and I strolled over to the Chicago Tribune for our Editorial Board. I had the opportunity to congratulate them not only for their most recent Pulitzer, for the series, “Gateway to Gridlock,” but also to congratulate their editorial page editor, Bruce Dowd, for his personal Pulitzer, as well.

The meeting lasted longer than anticipated and we made major inroads with the assembled staff and writers on our issues. We shared with them copies of our ad campaigns, our videos and our Safety and Tech Program Summary, as well. The groundwork laid at this meeting appeared in the following morning’s papers, and we expect to reap dividends from this contact in the future.

At three we crossed Michigan Avenue to the offices of the Chicago Sun-Times and repeated the process. This ed-board was a smaller affair, and they seemed only mildly interested in our information. This isn’t greatly troubling, as they have always been good friends of our issues in the past, so we’ll have to wait and see how the seeds we planted germinate.

After my last meeting I caught up with Jill, who had spent the entire day in a three block area downtown on Wabash, under the L-tracks…known as Jeweler’s Row. May I just say, “Ouch?” After a late, late dinner with friends and a little high plains drifting we stumbled back to our hotel for the night. I was dead tired but still managed to read and respond to a couple dozen emails before passing out.

Thursday morning we got up with the roosters…the insomniac roosters, that is…at four thirty, off to the airport at five thirty, and by ten we were back in the District. Mrs. Bull shipped off to the evening shift and I cruised in to work on the Metro.

I covered the email and snail mail pretty quickly, and dove right in to a discussion with Susan on some pending legal issues. After that it was over to Ken Montoya’s office to watch the Senate shift into Democratic hands as Senator Jeffords (I-VT) left the Republican Party. The tension and intrigue is so thick in DC you can cut it with a knife, and I’m really very lucky to be able to observe it.

For NATCA this change has monumental significance. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) is the new Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Committee, replacing Senator Shelby (R-AL) of Alabama (and his clerk Wally Burnett, who has authored much of the privatization language we have faced in the last two years.)

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is now the Chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee, replacing Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX.) If these new names sound familiar they should, since Ken and I have spent a great deal of time building relationships with both Senator Murray and Senator Rockefeller.

Senator Fritz Hollings (D-SC) also replaces Senator McCain (R-AZ) as Chair of the Commerce Committee. You might recall that Chairman McCain had planned to hold air traffic privatization hearings in the Chicago area later this summer. This committee also sets the committee’s legislative agenda and bills on privatization will probably face a much tougher hurdle.

Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) will become the Majority Whip, and we have a great relationship with him already. Senator Reid is one of the original cosponsors of the Cleland bill, and has always been a staunch advocate for our issues.

Our success in building these relationships is directly related to two things: Our work on Capitol Hill through Ken, Christine and the NATCA Legislative Committee, and the NATCA PAC. If you are contributing to the PAC, thank you for making it possible for us to work miracles on Capitol Hill. If you are not, I’m begging you to reconsider dedicating a few dollars a pay period to the effort. I promise you other interests in this public policy debate…interests like FMA…are collecting money, and spending it on issue-oriented lobbying efforts. Please help keep NATCA the premier PAC in the federal sector.

After that euphoric moment it was back to the office to wade through the weeds on everything you can imagine, and then some. I won’t bore you with the details just yet on most of it, but suffice it to say we’ve always got a few extra irons in the fire for you.

And now, for the real Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. It’s Friday again, and I’m not typing this update at one in the morning. I decided to try to bang it out early so I can take Mrs. Bull to see the movie Pearl Harbor this evening.

Johnny Shea came in around eight to talk about the ASR-11 project, and I’ll be meeting with the agency soon on it. We also discussed the mobile STARS demonstration, which I’ve taken to calling “STARS-on-Wheels,” and we’re working to start that demo project off in, oh, I don’t know…Kentucky somewhere? Maybe in Cincinnati.

I spoke with Don Antonucci from Lockeed Martin to congratulate him on the ATOPS oceanic program and rededicate our union to working in very close contact with them over the next few years to field the very best oceanic system we can. We had a very warm and productive discussion.

I took pages from Alan Clendenin, Randy Weiland and Dave Caldwell about the shifting Senate, and I never cease to be amazed by the astuteness of our activists. They knew what it meant long before it happened. I spoke with Bill Peacock on a few very pressing issues, including Jacksonville Center’s staffing crisis and Phoenix Tower’s recent troubles, and we are going to be working through those issues very carefully in the coming days.

I spoke with a few members of the NEB, and now the only thing between the beltway and me is this update so I think I’ll go.

I wanted to go to Indy for Race Week this year. Taylor Koonce and Jeff Wonser had invited me a very long time ago, but unfortunately the Chicago editorial boards and my schedule took over. I know the folks down in Indy will enjoy the week’s festivities, but I also know they will work extra hard with all the bizjet traffic and increased flight activity that an event of this magnitude generates. I might also mention for the record that I always wanted to have a son, and to name him Indianapolis Racine, so they would call him Indy Race Carr in school. (Jill does not know this, so please keep it strictly confidential.)

Anyway…thanks, Indy. For the invite, and for the great job I know you’re all going to do with the crush of airplanes you’re going to be working this weekend. God bless, and we’ll talk to you all next week.

John


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