Monday morning, I met with Don
Ossinger, NATCA’s Airspace representative to discuss issues related to National
Airspace Redesign and regional allotments for back fill overtime. It is
essential that our NATCA reps have a sound basis to support their BFOT and not
just say they need the same amount that another region got. Don also explained
how certain regions are required to spend a large portion of their ops finding
for airspace redesign on environmental impact. It seems like everyone is happy
to cry for increased capacity as long as they don’t have to hear any airplane
Candi Derr came up to go over the processing for 1188’s. Individuals who elect to cease dues withholding have not quit the union, but merely go into bad standing once they are 45 days in arrears. At that time, they will get a letter from the national office to pay dues annually, reinstate payroll deduction and pay the back dues, or be expelled from the union. Each year there are those who reconsider their decision to submit an 1188 and are able to retain membership by getting out of bad standing.
I talked to Jane Garvey about a number of issues, not the least of which being the hearings last week and the labor seat on the MAC. Spoke to Kevin McGrath about budgets, NATCA in Washington, and an internal grievance that was heard by the NEB. I feel like I spent half of my day on the phone and the other half reading e-mail. In between, Courtney Portner introduced me to a candidate she had interviewed for the publications position and Doug Church spotted a clip from NATCA’s new commercial in a CNN story on runway construction.
Ken Montoya and I met on the state of our legislation and the relative threats of both Oceanic and Level II/III contracting proposals. We also talked about the changes on the House Aviation appropriations subcommittee and its affect on NATCA. FMA has decided to take advantage of the new tone on the committee to publicly assault the administrator for only paying those who work at reclassified facilities, reclass pay. It continues to frustrate me that the fact the work itself was reclassified for the controller pay agreement but the FMA seems to believe that we just woke up one morning and cash rained down from the sky. Not to mention their assaults on their own members at field facilities who benefited from reclass and are now able to save pay on detail. John Fisher’s latest testimony puts that loophole in serious jeopardy. I think what amazes me the most about their hypocrisy is that if the Federal Managers Assn. supposedly represents managers, and the pay agreement is between labor and management, their basic gripe is that they are dissatisfied with an agreement negotiated by their constituency. Hmmm.
Tuesday, I started my day with the lovely and talented Mike Hull, NATCA’s liaison to ATX. He is settled in and ready to go with all things LR so I started him off with a list of organizational projects from the NEB. He will be working with the agency to set up a tracking system for everything from survey approvals and rep requests to changes to FAA orders. Hopefully it will help prevent them from “accidentally” implementing something before it is negotiated and give the RVP’s one place to call to get the status of issues that have not gotten to the stage of signed MOU. This is a tremendous project since the sheer volume of paper sent between NATCA and the FAA is enough to get the Sierra Club to mount a protest. Luckily I have a friend at the Paper and Allied Chemical Employees (PACE) union who appreciates the work.
Talked to Dale Wright and John Carr about an employee issue we have been tracking, met another candidate for Courtney’s old job, check on some airfare and headed out to catch a flight to DFW. I had been invited to the ESW local meeting and former Engineer’s VP, Pete Healy coordinated the visit. The engineers locals have expanded to include all new bargaining units at the regional offices and it was great to see so many different lines of business working together in one local. I was impressed to see how many members showed up. The last time I saw so many people at a local meeting, we were going to change seniority. Not only did they welcome me into their meeting with open arms, they sent me back to DC with a fist full of completed PAC forms!
Hopped a flight back that evening and it was back to the office on Wednesday morning. I met with Jose to discuss Oceanic strategy in the morning talked to John at length on the phone, played phone tag with Garvey’s office to discuss the MAC and, of course, paid stacks of NATCA’s bills and vouchers. That afternoon, I joined a meeting with Jose, Christine, Ken, Dick, Courtney, Doug, Phil Barbarello and Carol Branaman to work on the FMA member education effort that we discussed at last week’s NEB meeting.
FMA, through their testimony and press releases are damaging NATCA’s efforts to move the agency forward and defeat privatization. Each time we make progress on an issue, like the OE/OD or CIC MOU’s the FMA tries to make a case that the system is unsafe for it. They have called FAA management incompetent even though they purport to “represent” those managers. FMA can either advance the fight against privatization or they can feed the fire. Unfortunately, they have chosen the latter by putting their dislike of NATCA before the interests of their own membership. Please watch your FAC rep mailing for the first of several postings to let FMA members know what their leadership is doing to them (and all of us).
After the meeting, Tom Farrier asked if I had a moment and we met in my office where Tom informed me he had been recruited away by ATA. Tom has taken over all of the NTSB work in Safety and Tech in addition to his other duties. He has grown with NATCA to have a thorough understanding of controller issues and representational concerns and he will be missed. In the last 3 accidents, Tom has been able to uncover outside forces that may influence the investigation which have helped us represent our members. He will be missed. On the bright side, it is good to have someone in ATA with Tom’s level of understanding in ATC.
Thursday morning started with an early meeting with Lew Zeitz to discuss an issue with his department and then spent the rest of the day in a training class for our directors. This class will allow NATCA to meet the personnel evaluation requirement in our employee handbook but also ensure that our employees are given a fair shake. The first, and most important step in the process is to ensure that the goals of the department and the organization are clearly communicated to the staff to ensure we are all working to the same goal. This dovetails perfectly onto the work Pat Forrey is doing on behalf of the NEB to meet with each director on the goals of the union an ensure they have the resources necessary to fulfill their role and determine which barriers, if any need to be eliminated.
If you have not attended a recent NEB meeting, you may not have noticed that each RVP is taking an active role in the national office. This has been working well and serves to ensure that the RVP’s and the NO are a team rather than separate entities merely briefing each other. We begin each meeting with a status report on the progress of goals we set for the board in November and each RVP is the champion of one of them. Also with each meeting, as the need to take action on an issue or project someone will volunteer to take the lead to ensure it is completed. This not only ensures your executive board works as a team, it also brings multiple perspectives to an issue or problem.
During lunch, I met with Carmella Newberry, NATCA’s national ARC representative, Lorri, Melinda, and Tracy to brainstorm a strategy to keep travel voucher processing in the regions rather than centralizing the function in OKC. The current FAA plan would move NATCA jobs out of the bargaining unit and eliminate 6 positions in the field and create 5 higher-grade positions in OKC then call it cost savings. Looks like empire building to me, but in the meantime the engineers in the field will have to go through a remote facility to have all of their vouchers processed slowing down payment and making it harder to follow up on problems. More info on this next week.
Finally, it is Friday. An ongoing issue with Jerry McArthur and Mario Zapata regarding funding for Article 19 research is resolved. The FMA insert to the fac rep mailing has gone out, the inbox is empty but the e-mail still awaits. I met with Blackie about his department. Safety and Tech will be short staffed until we can fight the right candidate to fill the vacancy left by Tom. Our auditors had a draft of the end of year financials couriered over so I could review them. There were a few categories that did not look right and we will be cleaning them up on Monday so the annual report can go to the printers.
I ended the day with a visit from our GPS rep we went down to Blackie’s office and got a briefing on the status of WAAS, LAAS, the cost of each, recent decisions from the FAA and the relative accuracy of RNAV, ILS and GPS approaches.