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Brothers and Sisters,
I returned from LAS this week and I am still catching up on back e-mail. If you need to reach me on a time critical issue, e-mail is not the surest way. I can return phone calls and pages more easily while I am on the road. I spent the weekend fighting with put a website up to complete an assignment for an information resources class (the last one I need to earn my Master of Public Administration). After having to tear it down three times because my thumbnails were not linking to the right pictures, I have an even greater respect for those that are doing web work for NATCA. It was great to watch the Ravens win the Superbowl with my friends from Baltimore and I even got to exchange tips on chipping with a member from BWI.
Monday morning came early and I started the week with my usual briefing with John. We reviewed many of the issues from the NEB meeting, including some direction we had been given. I had a morning meeting scheduled with Courtney to discuss the events of the previous week. I followed that meeting with a discussion with John on some personnel matters. I spent a few hours signing last week’s vouchers and chasing down signatures and approvals for those that needed them. John and I interviewed an applicant for our Policy Director position. The interview went very well. Early that afternoon, John and I went to FAA HQ to meet with Jane Garvey and Monte Belger to discuss choke points, staffing, and Spring/Summer 2000. John is following up with Bill Peacock. Jane briefed us on her thoughts on the new administration. Then it was back to the office to chip away at the hundreds of e-mails that we waiting for me as well as the end of year financial reports. Interspersed throughout each day all week I met with Susan Grundmann to address legal issues that were persistently erupting.
Tuesday began with a morning meeting with Barry Krasner to gather some background on a half a dozen or so administrative issues when he told me how much he enjoyed being just a spectator in the NATCA administrative process. The NMI meeting was scheduled for noon and several RVP’s were coming to town. The director’s meeting was uneventful but we identified some areas that were in need of standardization, especially the way time sheets are submitted to accounting. Membership continues to make progress on identifying new benefits and Lew Zeitz briefed on a members only loss of license disability program that he believes is superior to anything we have offered in the past. He is still working the details out of dental plan and is setting up a survey to see if it is the type a benefit the members want and if it fits in their price range. He continues to aggressively seek out new benefits and will be rolling them out throughout the year. Lew’s focus is to ensure that benefits provide our members with quality programs and are packages that would not be available otherwise.
Pat Forrey joined the director’s meeting, which was perfect timing because he will be contacting all of the department heads about organizational goals on behalf of the NEB. He will be looking to identify the scope of each department’s role in meeting NATCA’s goals and identifying any barriers they are encountering. The NMI meeting was short and sweet as the board confirmed the appointments of Ed Mullin and James Ferguson as directors. We had a brief discussion about sidewalks and liability. After taking care of some urgent issues, I went over to the FAA for the Engineers and TMC contracts signing ceremony. There is no more significant event in a new bargaining unit than first contract and I was honored to attend. We will be negotiating contracts for 12 more bargaining units this year, a daunting task, but one the LR department seems well prepared for. Back to the office for an hour and then it was off to Fran O’Brien’s for the celebration dinner. It was wonderful to see everyone energized and ready to move to contract enforcement (in many ways, far more difficult then negotiating it.) I know our engineers have a lot of work ahead of them educating both members and mangers on the contract, which, as we know, is a never ending process. It was that evening that I had the extraordinary privilege of being granted admission to the honorary order of engineers.
Wednesday morning I met with a group of statisticians and mathematicians from the General Accounting Office. They are tasked with coming up with research to predict controller attrition rates and they came to discuss the NATCA retirement survey. We had a lengthy meeting where I offered my concerns about the assumptions they made in their last study and we reviewed the NATCA study in depth. They were amazed at how many variables need to be considered and how unique the workforce is. In another 10 years the workforce will be easier to study, but now we have a mix of pre and post strikers, CSRS and FERS, those subject to mandatory retirement and those who were grandfathered, and the most confusing for them, the mix of good time and bad time and the CSRS annuity loophole. They prefer to model an average retiree, but after they learned about all of the variables, I think they are leaning more to another survey.
I had a fleeting chance to talk to Mike Blake about committee charters and some e-mail discussions I had during the week regarding NATCA’s Air Safety Investigators. Since Jim Morin’s departure, the NTSB contact at the national office will be in Safety and Technology rather than Labor Relations. Dale Wright has begun offering his organizational skills to Safety and Tech. In interviewed another candidate for the policy director position and spent some time checking references. I headed up to the Labor College after work to meet with friends in other unions to discuss the new White House. The attack on EO 12871 has concerned other government unions, but paycheck deception was on everyone’s mind.
Thursday was another busy day. John and I met with Fred DuVal from Hill and Knowlton to discuss shifting our public relations effort to one of advocacy. He brought some good scripts that target the delay issue and why privatization will not solve the delay problem. We also discussed ways to manage our expenditures more effectively. I think we will continue to have a productive relationship with Hill and Knowlton that stays within our means.
ARINC came in to brief me on their ATOP product (Oceanic) and to state as clearly as they could that they are not interested in taking over oceanic ATC. They said that they want to provide the system and support but would not even consider providing the ATC operation. They didn’t know where the rumor started, so I told them they were used as an example in many of Poole’s reports advocating privatization. It seems that the industry has finally gotten the word that NATCA opposes ATC privatization. I gave half a dozen or so phone interviews, mostly sparked by the Chamber of Commerce Aviation summit, but the topics were scattered. ATA issued a press release calling for the FAA to hire 1000 controllers this year and invest more in modernization. I got at least 5 calls from reporters to get our reaction. I called a friend at ATA to get some insight because this seemed like a pretty dramatic departure for them. He said they have decide to move away from the PBO/Privatization issue and more toward what should be fixed in the system itself. I applaud their move.
I talked to Bob Howard about the wonderful world of OSHA as he was in town for an OSHECOMM meeting. George Lloyd was also in DC for and elections committee meeting. They are working on standardized guidelines for locals to facilitate smooth elections. I met with Lew Zeitz to go over all of the new NATCA merchandise he is bringing in house as well as the N.O. partnership with the VOICE merchandising. He is preparing a catalogue to make ordering NATCA merchandise more member friendly. He just got in etched beer mugs and shot glasses as well as the NATCA men’s and women’s watches which are very nice. He also found a supplier for denim jackets that will maintain the same quality as the ones we have done in the past. (This was looking like a problem a few weeks ago.)
I got a NATCA follow up to the ARINC presentation to make sure I had the whole story then met Jamie Cherry and Scott Farrow from our datalink team to talk about their program and get some dinner. Then it was off to the airport to pick up my husband and stepson who are up for the weekend.
Finally Friday came and I had a pile of checks to sign, the usual day of vouchers and e-mail still backed up from last week. Scott and Sean went to the zoo while I finished enough work so that I would not have to come in over the weekend. I briefly attended the Labor Relations staff meeting to talk about Lori Bay’s departure. Later I met with Bob Taylor to talk about rep assignments, redistributing work in LR, filling one of the vacancies in his department, and the TMC contract. Cindy Mahafkey fammed into town to work on the elections guidelines. She brought good news and she and George finished a comprehensive draft.
I answered another half a dozen press calls, met with Christine Corcoran and Ken Montoya to review the Aviation Summit, which was not as bad as we had anticipated, but the privatization advocates were still there. I talked to John Tune about our progress on the retired member category. He has been gathering information from other unions and is still waiting for a few inquiries to come back. I met with Cortney Portner to go over the status of issues in the communications department since Sherrod Shim is no longer with us. Doug Church continued to bring requests for interviews and I talked to everyone from the local Atlantic City paper to the New York Times.
Leslie Warfield was in DC for media training. She, Doug, and I brainstormed some ideas for explaining the LGA situation in layman’s terms. The slot program expires in September and we expect a lot of press attention between now and then. I ended the week with the usual communication with John to make sure we start next week caught up on each other’s activities.