April 27, 2001

I am finally back in the office after a whirlwind week of travel and there are plenty of NATCA’s bills to pay. My inbox has been calling me since Monday and I am glad to have a few minutes to catch up.

My week started on Sunday with the Southern Region Legislative Committee meeting in Orlando. The committee is flourishing and has taken NATCA into some new political areas. Randy Weiland and Brad Burtner have been very active in the Northern Kentucky Democrat Executive Council and Randy tasked the rest of the committee to get active in their local party, either Democrat or Republican. Local politics will play a key role in fighting the expansion of the contract tower program. The committee also discussed involving their spouses, as Gary Morgan has done in Atlanta, especially when your spouse is not subject to the Hatch Act. There was a lot of discussion about NATCA in Washington and the innovative methods that the state coordinators have used to energize the activists. The North Carolina delegation has coordinated their schedules to meet on the train to Washington. Activists on the Amtrak.

Donna Fitzgerald hosted us on a visit to MCO as members began to pour into the hotel for the Southern/Southwest/Great Lakes combined meeting, popularly known as the three-region hug fest. The positive energy was astounding. I talked about organizing with Larry Nash, privatization with John Vogelsang, NTSB with Darren Gaines, CISD with Mike Mathern, NATCAnet with George Petrovitch and a dozen other things with a dozen other members. It is invigorating to see so many people working hard for their union and to make their profession better.

Monday I took care of some office calls and e-mail then had an appointment with George Lloyd to talk about the elections committee charter and the CISD team who are just back from a conference on CISM, which included a day dedicated to aviation. I have heard nothing but positive feedback from the members who attended the conference. After lunch with George, I met with Randy Weiland and Rich Ulmes about NATCA in Washington issues and the progress being made between the NLC and Legislative Affairs department to build a more effective working relationship. The regional meeting started at 1 and I was on the agenda at 4. After a brief discussion with Bob Taylor about having NATCA’s training classes evaluated for college credit and the process involved, I prepared my talking points for the meeting.

I considered talking about the issues facing NATCA, but Randy Weiland would be speaking on privatization the next day and I didn’t want to steal John’s material, so instead I talked about the organizational changes that have taken place in NATCA and what the NEB and National Office is doing differently and how it is working. The most important point is that the NEB is working as a team to build a stronger national union. While the RVP’s are working for their regions, they have taken on extra duty to work with the national office move the organization forward. It was not the most exciting speech I have ever given, but there was a lot of material to cover. After questions and answers, the meeting ended and it was time to change into play clothes for the evening reception.

My alarm went off all too early and I scrambled to make my 6:20 am flight from MCO to LAX. The AFL-CIO Secretary/Treasurer’s meeting was in Los Angeles in conjunction with the Union Industries Show. NATCA’s booth was in Massachusetts for the Aviation Expo and I could not stay for the show, much to the disappointment of the other union officers, but when I explained that I had a prior commitment at a local, they understood. Next year the meeting and show will be in Minneapolis so I will plan to stay and I hope our members in the Minneapolis area locals will take their families to the show.

The official meeting started Wednesday morning with a welcome from Rich Trumpka, Secretary/Treasurer of the AFL-CIO and we all introduced ourselves. Jim Cole from the Ironworkers gave a passionate speech about the lengths to which some officials will go to assert financial impropriety by union officers. He talked about the case law that supported indictments for listing expenses on the wrong line of the LM’s charging it as concealment. So when Dale Wright comes out to audit you local, remember that he is there to help you. His job, and that of the finance committee is to keep local officers out of trouble.

The international office of the AFL talked about the union rights campaign and the difficulties in Latin America. Specifically, two union officers were pulled from a bus in front of members from the miners union and assassinated by a paramilitary group in Columbia. Makes my zero leave balance seem like a minor sacrifice. They talked about the effect of NAFTA and how wages in real terms have declined 10% in Mexico as a result of the “free trade” agreement and the risks of expansion. They also talked about the ILO (International Labor Organization) poster campaign. The poster says, “You have Rights. The right to join a union, the right to refuse forced labor, the right to oppose child labor and the right to be free from discrimination in the workplace. The US business community has voiced opposition to the poster.

Several other speakers spoke about trust funds, the fiduciary responsibilities of trustees, the Home Investment Trust and the Business Investment Trust performance. These funds provide high yield investment returns for union pension funds while financing union construction projects. There are several courses available to union trustees that NATCA will be able to take advantage of once our NMI trust is established. The rest of the session talked about responsible investing and using our power as shareholders to hold corporations responsible for ensuring worker rights. Pension funds represent $7 trillion (yes with a T) in corporate investments. Unions are taking action to vote their shares. When antiunion rhetoric tries top pit labor against shareholders, remember we are both. NATCA’s fund manager, Stacy Braun has a 100% positive voting record on AFL issues. These include things like holding CEO’s accountable, open voting for directors and reporting settlements paid on discrimination suits to the shareholders.

The evening reception was a great opportunity to meet informally with the other union’s officers. I talked to Rich Trumpka at length and we swapped war stories. I also forged a friendship with the new Sec/Treas of NFPTE (National Federation of Professional and Technical Employees) who just affiliated SPEEA, the Boeing Engineers Union. The results of the Sec/Treas surveys were released that include comparative pay and benefits for union staff so we can ensure that NATCA remains a competitive employer. I grabbed a redeye back to the East Coast to join the Southern Region Engineers Combined local meeting in Atlanta.

Doug Hintz met me at the airport and we had an hour or so before the meeting. He set me up with a phone in the meeting room so I could give a quick interview to a reporter in Wooster who is interested in controller retirements. I checked in with the office to find a last minute substitution had been made for our congressional testimony; I talked to Doug Church, Ken Montoya and Jose Ceballos about the content and why we were testifying about antitrust immunity for the airlines to discuss schedules. It turns out that one of our friends in Congress requested it, so of course we obliged. I talked to Jose about the panel with Robert Poole next week and he said that MS NBC picked up the interview I did in Miami and I realized that I have not had the chance to watch any news all week.

This morning, for the first time all week, I had a chance to talk with John face to face. We caught up on each other’s activities of the week. Next, I met with Adell and Ed Phipps to go over the data needed to compile a national seniority list, as soon as we make sure we have identified all of the data we need to collect we will send out a template to the fac reps. We will use name and data of birth to establish unique identification without using social security number.

I had lunch with Geoff Schearer from the FAA and we talked about ICAO flight plans, TFM and EFSTS. I came back to the office to prepare for a panel session next Tuesday and reviewed my press clippings for the week. I gave an interview to a reporter from the Washington Monthly about what government is doing right and why ATC should be done by the Government. A nice high note to end a great week!

In Solidarity,

Ruth Marlin




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