April 20, 2001

Wow, another week has gone by already. I feel like I just put out an update and it is time for another one. Wednesday marked 6 months in office and I cannot believe how fast the time has gone. After a brief talk with John last Friday and hearing his news I knew it would be a busy week. Monday morning, Adell jumped on the phone to reschedule John's appointments that could wait and to schedule me to cover those that would not. He would only be out of the office for two days, but two days worth of a schedule is a lot of juggling.

The morning started with the usual paperwork and was quickly complicated with the issues of the day, including press calls and preparing for a meeting with Jane, her AT execs, government affairs and pr staff to go over our mutual testimony. I had a meeting scheduled with several members of the membership department to resolve a personnel issue and later I met with the rest of the
department to talk about advertising sales and the competing demands of different departments and events. We will be moving to a centralized marketing point of contact to ensure NATCA presents the most professional and organized image to our advertisers and sponsors and to support the groups that have little experience in garnering sponsorships.

After a barrage of phone calls, it was off to the administrator's office. We all have to report back on our 5 things and we want to make sure that if we say we are doing something, the others don't disagree. Often semantics get in the way of progress. Ken Montoya accompanied me to the meeting, as John will be giving the testimony while I am in LA. The meeting was the usual and we had a chance to talk about choke points and staffing. I simply said that if they cannot staff a choke point sector then they shouldn't put one in at all. If they say they have choke points, but the sectors are never opened, the idea will look like a failure. They are better off focusing on areas where they can staff. They said there was BFOT available, but they were afraid people may not answer their phone if called in. I reminded them that when the weather is nice we like to go out side once in a while and that scheduled overtime works much better than call in OT. I also mentioned that just because BFOT is allocated doesn't mean that managers/sups will use it and that the program needs to monitor choke points sectors to ensure they are being staffed (and opened).

Tuesday morning was equally taxing as it started with the initial meeting with a newly formed "aviation and aerospace stakeholders group." The Aerospace Industry Association is looking to put together a coalition of associations and labor unions to lobby for specific capacity improvements,
they identified 52 different groups and invited less than 20 to for the steering committee. NATCA, ALPA and IAM were the identified unions with the most influence in aviation. The meeting was extremely broad in scope and we will be reconvening soon. I have three pages of notes, but I just don't type fast enough to put them all in the update.

Back to the office for a meeting with Courtney to go over the CPDLC video inch by inch to recommend improvements to the program office. It was a painstaking process, but Courtney later met the program people and we will be going over revisions on Monday.

My afternoon was interrupted by a call from NPR who asked if I would guest on Talk of the Nation at 3 pm Wednesday. I scrambled to change my 4:50 flight to 5:40 and gave a long telephone interview to prepare for the broadcast. It is an hour show and I was live with Steve Brown from the FAA. ATA had a taped interview and the Chicago Tribune writers who just won the Pulitzer for their ATC story were on by phone from Chicago. This immediately rolled into a Wednesday morning press session to determine the message we want to put forward on NPR. Since two different industry people mentioned that we need to get more controllers in congressional offices because there is a building sense that controllers are not supporting new programs. I find this ironic since we have more controllers working on technology projects than any
country in the world and more than the US has ever seen. Work groups, liaisons, tech reps, IOT&E teams, all on national, regional and local levels, so much that it is a wonder there is anyone left to talk to the planes. Our team went to work to find the source of this rumor and it appears to be one started by lobbyists for an airline that supports privatization with a hub in the home state of the President. Well, the source doesn't really matter, we need to defeat the rumor, and luckily lobby week is just around the corner. We refocused our media message to include how the controllers are helping the FAA modernize. We are working to develop requirements, and we are
participating at every stage of the development and procurement process. I also like to throw in how fast we achieved controller acceptance when we field systems this way, like VSCS and DSR.

John and I did a couple of rapid debriefs throughout the day and as I was making sure all of the waiting vouchers got signed before I started travel, I was surprised by an unexpected phone call from Langhorne Bond, FAA administrator under Carter. He had opposed most ideas to privatize FAA until recently when he signed on to a letter of support for the Poole report. We had a long talk about his reasons, I talked about my concerns and gained some insight into the opposition that will help us educate privatization supporters on the real risks. He reinforced my belief that no one has a
comprehensive understanding of NAVCANADA and was great preparation for my trip next week where Jose and I will join Randy Weiland on the trip he has scheduled to meet with various Canadian officials in labor and government. It was a long and productive call and we scheduled to meet for dinner on May 1. We have a lot of common ground to build on. I will be serving on a panel
breakfast with Langhorne Bond, Robert Poole, a representative from the NCARC group and one other person on May 2 at the NATA conference in Long Beach.

After the call I joined Tom Farrier's farewell luncheon in progress and wished him well at ATA. I do not think it is a coincidence that ATA suddenly developed a greater understanding for NATCA and our issues after they recruited away a member of our staff, but I think two is enough. Then it was off with Doug to NPR. I have really gotten used to having "people" when I go
to these interviews. Doug gives me immediate feedback and picks up on anything I say in one interview that he can build into a story for later press. He also always remembers to have them send a tape. The hardest part about these interviews is keeping everything in layman's terms. It is a technical profession and not every ATC issue can be communicated in a sound byte.

After the talk show, Mike Hull, ATX liaison extraordinaire, whisked me off to the airport just in time to catch my flight to FLL where I spent some precious time with my husband and got a good night sleep before an on camera interview with NBC 6 (Miami) on the aging controller workforce. I talked
with Ike Seamans, the reporter about his experiences with the FAA and the
difficulty he has had getting permission to go inside facilities. He has interviewed Andy Cantwell a number of times and lately it is always outside the fence. I am all too familiar with the outside the fence interview and it was good to be in the studio at least. Ike did get permission to shoot inside Miami Center to get new file footage since the last he had was of the
old control room. I paged Doug and asked him to talk to FAA public affairs to encourage them to at least consider a press day top allow news outlets to get file footage of the new control rooms. No wonder they have not been able to defeat the "antiquated ATC system" perception. Ike pointed out how bad the FAA looks when they send a statement instead of a spokesman and how hard it is to present a balanced story with a piece of paper. Then he said "they
won't even take good press" which reminded me of my favorite phrase, "they are hard to help."

It seems my FMA posting has gotten some attention. Apparently, the FMA leadership is not too interested in telling their membership the whole story about their efforts. In fact, I noticed the testimony on their website deletes some of the phrases from the testimony delivered. Since working
against the interest of their members is also against the interest of our members, I will keep you posted on the FMA leadership's actions. They state they want pay parity as if the only way to get it is to give one group a raise. Last I checked closing the TDY loophole would achieve parity too.
Again they use the "me too" approach instead of arguing why they should be paid more. Classic whining. I approve the Fac Rep Mailing via e-mail and phone, volleyed a few calls and pages, spent the rest of the evening with my husband.

The highlight of my Friday was a visit to Miami Center and a few hours talking to my members about everything going on in NATCA. I talked to Rodney Turner several times about several things not the lease of which being the crash at FLL. Rodney, NSO RVP and current FLL Fac Rep let me know that
everything was taken care of, the NO responded right away and ASI, CISD and Drug and Alcohol had all been covered. It was great to hear and tied into the last discussion I had with Lew Zietz on Wednesday about printing up new checklists for what to do in the event of an accident and sending our laminated copies to all of the facilities.

Saturday it was back in the air for a short flight to MCO where I will join the NSO Legislative Committee Meeting on Sunday. Next week I will be traveling through Thursday. I hope to have much to report.

In solidarity,

Ruth Marlin

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