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|Weekly Update for <!----Enter Date Bellow ****************> December 8, 2000 <!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>|
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It’s been quite the tumultuous week, hasn’t it?
Monday began with Ruth and I meeting early to review many of the issues we’ve been jointly and independently working on. I also spoke with Dave Sandbach about the signature page on the Engineer’s Agreement, and talked to Tim Haines about our negotiating position on Consolidated facilities. I asked Tim to work with the Agency on the Retroactivity pay piece, as well.
Bill McGowan from the Constitution Committee called with an interpretive question concerning our Constitution and Bylaws. Specifically...does Article XIV, Section 4, apply to the Bylaws? Hmmmm.
Monday’s NEB Telcon covered a range of issues, with a new group of liaisons and tech reps being appointed by me, and approved by the Board. I briefed the Board on the Engineer’s agreement, on my testimony in the House, and on the FAA’s counter-proposal to an error reduction proposal we had given them.
Ruth and I met with Sherrod from the Communications Department to discuss the direction of our coming advocacy campaign, and also discussed Sherrod’s budget with her.
I left that meeting, early, to meet with Tom Ferrier and Jim Morin on some interoffice personnel concerns. We had a very productive meeting, and I agreed with them to address some of their issues at our Wednesday staff meeting. v When I had to leave THIS meeting early as well, Ruth stepped in, joined us, and took the ball and ran with it. I told her I felt like a surgeon, running from operating room to operating room, with her always there to close the patient.
I ran over to the Rayburn building with Ken Montoya for an afternoon meeting with Congressman Ackerman from NY regarding the slot lottery at LaGuardia and other general issues associated with that airport.
We had a very productive meeting, interrupted only as we all sat rapt, watching Judge Sauls in Florida render his decision in the Gore case. Needless to say, it wasn’t good news.
Tuesday began as most of my days do, with a meeting with Adell to discuss the day’s appointments and brush fires. Dave stopped in again with signature pages for me, and again, I met with Ruth,t his time to discuss topics for today’s Director’s Meeting.
The Director’s Meeting went very well. Lew updated us on membership issues, including the fact that 200 staff specialists had petitioned for a union election. The magic number is 350.
Lew has also lined up a briefing for next Monday from a dental insurance carrier, which I plan to attend. We discussed the physical limitations of the membership department, and Ruth and I are looking into putting them into better, more productive surroundings.
Greg Llafet briefed on Training issues and will be coordinating Facrep Training dates with Adell for me...Adell briefed us all on staff issues, Susan on legal issues, Ken on the latest on the Hill...we really covered alot of ground! (Small historical footnote here: Thank you, Susan, for getting our official certification with the FLRA to now officially read, NATCA, AFL/CIO.)
After the Director’s Meeting the office held a Potluck Lunch. Everyone was supposed to bring something, so I brought an appetite, and enjoyed deep-fryed turkey, spicy meatballs, salads and I even got my just desserts. Thanks to all who contributed to a fun time.
We received a fax from the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL/CIO that the President intended to sign an Executive Order Thursday forming a Performance Based Organization (PBO), called the Air Navigation Services Organization (ANSO). Both Ruth and I began to digest this news, and a telcon was scheduled for two o’clock to discuss it with the other aviation unions.
I held a short meeting with RVP Carol Branaman and Phil Barbarello to discuss their meeting on the PCS MOU. The agency was on their way over to see us to negotiate this issue, and we discussed our position. I called Monte Belger to insure the agency was aware of the importance we place on these negotiations.
I spoke with Leslie Warfield and Barrett Byrnes about New York tower issues, and also let them cherry-pick my testimony to add or modify as they saw fit. Both of them had some edits which made the final product that much better.
From there it was off to Capitol Hill, where I testified before Congressman Duncan’s Transportation and Infrustructure Aviation Subcommittee. The hearing went very well, and our legislative friends were very grateful not only for our presence but for our testimony as well. The agency was also quite gratified to know that we were supportive of their position on the slot lottery.
As I was leaving the hearing Ken briefed me on the Executive Order. His staff had been sent over to the hearing room to brief him, and we rushed back to the National Office to begin our opposition efforts. A meeting had been scheduled for the White House Wednesday morning, and we had much to do.
Tuesday evening was spent with Ruth, Ken, Christine and myself working the phones, doing research, advising our legislative activists of pending activity, and other activities which shall remain proprietary. I advised Adell to clear the calendar for the remainder of the week, and she swept dozens of appointments over the side.
While Ruth combed the report with highlighters, I spoke with our friend Congressman Oberstar and then with Administrator Garvey. Jane was nonplussed by our position, and attempted to find common ground from which to work. I advised her of our pending and very public opposition, and she asked if we would consider waiting until the White House meeting. Ruth and I agreed to that request.
Wednesday morning Ruth and I had a breakfast meeting with Ed Wytkind of TTD to strategize the White House meeting. The meeting was long, productive, and confidential.
From there we cabbed over to the White House, where we were joined by representatives from the other aviation labor organizaitons. We met with the senior White House staff, and our preparation began to pay immediate dividends.
Ed introduced our position, and also mentioned that the other labor organizations were allied behind our position. From there he handed the floor to me, and I discussed our position passionately and at length. I handed off to Ruth who described her work with the Order and the Report, highlighting items we could live with in green, problems in yellow and absolute disasters in blue.
I knew we had a shot when the President’s counsel said, "Can I have that colored copy?"
We discussed language we liked and could live with. I asked the question I promised you I would ask when I ran for this office: "Does this administration believe that the airspace above our heads is a national treasure, and that air traffic control is so intrinsically linked to the public interest as to mandate it’s performance by federal employees? Do you believe we are inherently governmental?"
The answer was unanimous: Yes.
Ruth and I wordsmithed some there and then, and the White House committed to work with us to address our concerns. We left the meeting feeling cautious but optimistic, knowing we had given it our very, very best shot. We also left empty handed: The White House kept Ruth’s marked-up copy of the report.
Ruth and I went back to the office to strategize with Ken and Christine on some new language, and to get an update from Ken on his legislative work. He had already contacted approximately 5,000 people, and he had staffers and Congressman all over Capitol Hill ready to assist us at his call. We asked him to provide our friends with an update of our efforts.
I spoke with Melinda Kim on some representational issues surrounding our new Nurses unit, and then met with Susan to cover some pressing legal issues like logos and insurance and such. I also gave Susan a small token of our appreciation from you, to her, for her TEN YEARS of service to this organization.
More brainstorming with Ruth, Sherrod, and Fred DuVal from Hill and Knowlton ensued on media issues surrounding the Executive Order.
We received a draft of the new Executive Order forming the new "Air Traffic Organization" (ATO) late in the afternoon, and it had moved, substantially, from where we found it. We received a draft of the new Executive Order and report late in the evening, and it was still quite obviously a work in progress. The language of concern to us, however, was beginning to look better and better. We advised the administration that based on what we were seeing we could not actively support the Order but now would not actively oppose it.
Thursday morning I called Jane to ask for a "final-final" on the Order and the Report. She advised me that there had been a huge fight over some of our changes, but that both she and the White House counsel had insisted on our language. I thanked her for her support, and reiterated that although we couldn’t support it we would assist in the media by finding those things in it with which we agreed.
I met with Bob Taylor to discuss pending discussions on the FAM program and the Article 8 and 9 ADR process, and signed some extension paperwork on those two efforts.
I spoke with Dave Hastings on the constitutional interpretation, and I also managed to speak with Alan Clendenin to bring him up to the minute.
I worked with Doug Church on some media inquiries, and worked on talking points for an on-camera interview with NBC. We also provided information to several outlets which used our information, most notably Reuters and ABCNews.
After the camera work I spoke briefly with Jane and the White House, and then went to lunch with Adell. When we returned to the National Office we discovered that we were still waiting for the final language on both the Executive Order and the report.
While Legislative worked on getting us the most up to date information, Ruth and I worked with Sherrod and Doug to pivot our message from one of begrudging acquiesence to one of inherently governmental advocacy. We recognize that this Order could form the basis for a major policy debate on privatization, and we want to star in that show as a model of inherently governmental work which can be run more like a business...from within the confines of the Federal Government.
The last draft of the Executive Order and Report rolled off the printer as I was leaving the office Thursday evening. When you see them, you can judge for yourself.
Words cannot express the gratitude I have for the hard work, dedication and sheer will of the national office staff. From top to bottom during this issue they consistently performed at such a high level that we were able to move seemlessly from moment to moment with the confidence which only facts, preparation and righteousness can bring.
Ruth is back in DC, guarding the store. Thursday night I flew to Phoenix on a personal and very urgent matter, and whats left of Friday belongs to my friend.
I hope this finds you all healthy and happy. This weekend will be bittersweet and very, very difficult for me. Come Monday morning I will be back in the office, watching the sun come up, already at work for you, the membership I’m so proud of.