<!----Enter Date Bellow *****************> Weekly Update for December 15, 2000 <!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>
Weekly Update for <!----Enter Date Bellow ****************> December 15, 2000 <!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>


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This is cheating, isn't it? After driving the six and a half hours home to Ohio, and rolling in at 2:30am Saturday morning, I sit down to write my "Friday" Update. Let's keep it our little secret, shall we?

Monday was a very busy day. Unfortunately, I left my notes back in DC, so I'll have to cobble it together from memory the very best I can!

The day started with the obligatory email and correspondence from 7-9am, when the office is quiet and I get a lot of work done. At nine, Ruth and I met with Dick Swauger to assess where the Executive Order left us in terms of our efforts against contracting out and privatization. We had a very productive meeting, and we formed the skeleton of a plan for meetings in January to brainstorm this new development and further refine our plan of attack.

I exchanged pages with Phil Barbarello and Carol Branaman who are working on the PCS MOU issues. We are close to an agreement with the agency, I think, and hope to have something finalized in the very near future. I know this topic is extremely important to many folks, and we are working diligently to move as many people as we possibly can this year.

The NEB Telcon went well. The mania of the previous week had left me woefully unprepared for the telcon, so Ruth took the lead on most National Office issues. We also discussed the PCS issue, and the board is working collaboratively with Phil and Carol. If I recall correctly we even finished in under two hours!

Immediately following the telcon I welcomed Dave Watrous to our office. Dave is the President of the RTCA, and wanted to discuss their role as a governmental advisory committee. Dave also filled me in about a few seats we hold on committees such as the Free Flight Steering Committee. We had a very cordial and informative discussion.

I know I probably worked a dozen small brush fires Monday afternoon, but without my notes it looks for all the world like I took an early shove. That's what I get for leaving my legal pad behind!

Tuesday I welcomed Ben Phelps back from his recent back surgery. He's doing great. We discussed computer issues and needs, and he cleaned up some junk on my office PC.

I spoke with Adell about various and sundry issues, including our lighted signage on the building. I come in when it's dark every morning, and the lights are out. As with all things she promised to take care of it, which means it's taken care of.

I had a meeting with Bob Taylor and Denny Rose to discuss some pending MOUs and our position on them. I also spoke with Bob about several pending arbitration opportunities and issues which are ripening into cases. Bob's LR Department runs like a top, and as usual we had a very good meeting.

After Bob left I hooked up with the NPR radio station in Seattle, Washington, for a one hour call in show with Paul McElroy, author of "TRACON," and the President of the Aviation Consumer Action Project. The topic was delays, privatization, the book, and air traffic control in general. I used the opportunity to further amplify our message that we are not only unique but a national treasure as well, and intrinsically linked to the public interest. Several people who heard the program have contacted me to tell me they thought it went well. I was pretty happy with the result, and will be looking for more opportunities in that regard.

I held a very productive conversation with Maureen Woods to discuss a survey the agency may be looking into distributing. We will continue to work this issue in accordance with the article.

The rest of the afternoon was spent refining a few media responses with Doug Church. Doug has really exceeded everyone's expectations and does a fantastic job on very short notice. I gave him the same speech I gave all of you, that we would not let any shrill voices go unchallenged. Doug brings me about three shrill ones a day!

Wednesday morning I went in really early, because the day was full and I needed to buy some time. I worked in the office until 6:30am, when Ruth and I hooked up and walked over to the Capitol Hilton for breakfast with Jane and Monte.

Our discussion was short on rhetoric and long on specifics. We are going to be working very closely with both the Administrator and her Deputy to enable each other's successes. 2001 promises to be a very interesting year.

From this meeting it was back to the office, just long enough to welcome the Communications Committee back into town. Again, these cats are the funnest bunch to come up to work with us, always happy, very energetic and hard working, and happy to help out however and wherever they can. Bryan Thompson brought me a beautiful leather bound book for Christmas. What a generous and thoughtful man he is.

I dashed over to DOT for the DOT Partnership Council Meeting. We're a member, and since this was my first meeting I did a lot of listening. I don't expect it will take me too long to warm up, though!

I went back over to the Krasner Building to return a mess of phone calls and catch up on some office work, and then caught a cab over to FAA for the Free Flight Steering Committee Meeting. Again, this was my first meeting so I didn't do much more than get the lay of the land and case the joint, but this one will definitely be getting some attention soon. I heard a few things I wasn't all that crazy about.

I've received invitations to many Christmas parties, very few of which I could make, but the one I made this evening was extra special. I'm married to a Dulles controller you see, so Jill and I went to the Dulles Tower Christmas Party at the Landsdowne Resort.

Dee Daniels' planning and Facrep Paul Rinaldi's leadership made for a warm evening in the embrace of new friends who treat you like old family. Paul's VP Ellie Morin had gifts for E-Board members, and the local had generous gifts for Paul and Ellie. The camraderie and esprit-de-corps was awe inspiring.

Paul's wife Deb was there, radiant as always, which gave me the opportunity to knock the resort buffet as being MUCH less than she puts out for us on football sunday afternoons...and I am NOT kidding.

Paul ran a 50-50 raffle for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They collected almost $220 dollars, which meant the winner would take home around $110. I drew out the name of Brad Sturman, who promptly said, "Keep it. Give it all to the kids." That, my friends, is what it's all about. I can't say enough about these kind people, who have welcomed Jill and I into their homes and into their hearts.

Thursday morning Bob Taylor and I did early morning catch up on issues ranging from stoves in facilities to the "Collision Course" video.

I collaborated with Ruth on some Communications issues, both with respect to the committee and the Department. We are working very hard to bring NATCA's electronic communications into a secure, reliable, stable platform. I think we're very close.

Ruth and I spent the remainder of the morning visiting with as many employees as we could, to discuss salaries and to take any questions or concerns they may have had. Our staff is the best, period, and I'm very proud of the way everyone has adapted to the new styles Ruth and I bring. Your National Office staff is a super group.

I spoke with Neil Planzer, who's working on an article and symposium on AIR-21. We agreed to meet for lunch to discuss my possible participation.

I exchanged faxes and phone calls with Ajax, Rocky and several others on the pending Consolidated Pay Rules. There seems to be a disconnect on where we are and where we're going with this pay rule, and I'll take full responsibility for that.

I advised the agency that we weren't in a position to sign off on the most recent draft, and we will be working hard this week to finish up something which more closely meets our needs. I know this subject is important to many people, and I think it's prudent and wise to proceed cautiously to insure we bring home the absolute best product for our membership.

I spent a good part of the afternoon with Maurice Banks a civil rights advocate for the FAA. Maurice would like to use the Article 56 group to audit one of his prototype classes on workplace subjects. I found him to be honest and sincere, and if my schedule permits, in January I may audit the class myself.

When Maurice left I sat down with Tim Haines to discuss several of the pay issues outstanding. The 3R agreement has been signed, and those of you waiting for that should see it shortly. We discussed a developmental pay rule, consolidated pay rules, and a few other pay rules. Still no word yet from the agency on the retroactivity piece, which I know is frustrating to many. It's not gone, it hasn't disappeared. The MOU is in the agency's hands.

I spoke with Ruth again about progress with the Communications Committee and Department, and exchanged another couple pages with folks before leaving the office.

Friday morning there I sat, tap-tap-tapping away on the computer when in walks Ruth with my Christmas present. A door sign that says, "Uninterrupt-a-BULL. Do Not Disturb." It's complete with my logo and everything! I think I'm misting up here. Thanks, Ruth.

I also got a letter today that was meant for you, so I'll reproduce it here:

"Dear John,

We want to thank you and every member of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association for everything you have done for us during this extraordinary campaign. We will always be grateful for your individual and collective efforts.

We also want to commend you and your members for recognizing the importance of getting involved in the political process. The future of our democracy depends on an engaged citizenry, and your efforts helped motivate the record high levels of participation among union members and their families.

Again, let us express our heartfelt thanks on behalf our entire campaign team for your tremendous help.

Sincerely,

Al Gore
Tipper Gore"

The early meeting today was with a group led by John Hayurst, Senior Vice President at Boeing and President of their ATC Group. Boeing plans to propose a new ATC architecture to significantly reduce delays and improve safety within the next five years.

Boeing's plan is satellite based, and according to the briefing we were given they neither support privatization nor any effort to reduce the number of controllers in the system. Ruth and I had a very lively discussion with the group from Boeing, and reaffirmed our strong belief that regardless of the modality used for data, the responsibility for separation must rightfully remain with the controller, not in the cockpit.

We will be working with the Boeing group early next year, and Ruth and I will both have more on that as it develops.

I met with Ron Morgan this morning and we managed to exchange a few proposals. I gave the agency our latest proposal on operational error reduction, and we signed an MOU on extending the pilot program in Article 9. Another agreement on extending the Article 8 work to another region is almost ready for prime time.

We discussed CIP, and agreed to get our groups together after the first of the year.

After my meeting with Ron it was back to the office, where Ruth and I met up with C. B. Matusiak, from ULLICO (Union Labor Life Insurance Company.) They occupy the seventh floor of our building, and we see each other often in the elevator and such.

C.B. took Ruth and I out to lunch at Fran O'Brien's, and you would not have believed what happened next.

Every single person who came through the restaurant was President or officer of a trade union. We stood up and sat down so many times I thought I was in church. C.B. knew each by name, and introduced us graciously every time. The entire back room of Fran's was packed for a Christmas party, and eventually it embarrassed even our host.

We jokingly told C.B. he could call the office and tell them to stop sending folks over, but seriously...we must have met thirty union leaders! As we were finishing our main course Bobby Georgine, President of ULLICO came by, and even C.B. himself was almost speechless.

Well, who should swing by over coffee but John Sweeney himself. I told both Ruth and C.B., "I'm not leaving. If we just order dessert I expect Clinton to come by!!!"

From our luncheon it was back to the office, where I foolishly thought I'd get some work done. Ha! It was already approaching three o'clock, and our office party was at four.

Caroline and Donna put together a real bash for the office Holiday Party this year, and I'd like to publicly thank them for their time and efforts. We had good food, music, great decorations, door prizes, and a magician to boot. Everyone had a great time, and the whole building seemed to get into the spirit.

I stayed at the party until almost seven, got home by almost eight, got on the road by almost nine, and got back to Ohio by almost three. Not bad, eh?

I hope this finds you all healthy and safe. I really got a great appreciation for what a fantastic group of people our diverse membership really is by spending some time with the folks from Dulles this week. Unique and eclectic, with a generosity of spirit which is often breathtaking to behold.

I remember writing to you all once, about the midnight shifters, and thinking of them as I worked. Well, here it is almost 4:30 in the morning, and I feel like I've stood one with you. But I haven't, really. All I did was type an update. YOU worked. I'll never forget that, and I'll never let anybody else forget it, either.

Best wishes, and we'll see you next week.

JTB

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