May 18, 2001

Brothers and Sisters,

What a week it has been. Sunday night I took the midnight train to Fayetteville so that I could ride up to lobby week with the Carolina delegation on Monday. The train was great and it was invigorating spending the day with these NATCAvists! The good news is we only lost one of them, but Amtrak sent him back when they got to Baltimore. Everyone was arriving for NATCA in Washington and the place was buzzing. I headed out to the airport to pick up my husband, who just happens to be the South Florida State Legislative Coordinator.

Tuesday was the official kickoff and the room was wall to wall members. This lobby week was also the first to garner national press coverage. CNN featured both Norm Mineta’s and Jane Garvey’s speeches. It was nice to see the big NATCA logo behind them. They have said they will run a feature on Saturday, but it is not certain. There were reporters all over the place, interviewing controllers, covering speeches and the front page of AVDaily on Wednesday read: “Government, Industry Agree: No Air Traffic Control Privatization.” You can’t buy advertising like that. I had the honor of presenting one of our speakers, Fuzz Bhimji, the president of CATCA with a plaque expressing NATCA’s gratitude for his efforts to help defeat ATC privatization in the US. That evening I joined our NATCAvists from New Mexico for dinner with Senator Dominici’s staff to talk about privatization, capacity and filling the labor seat on the MAC with one John Carr. After that it was off to the Southern Regional dinner then to Eastern. Luckily they were in the same restaurant. After a fun filled evening, I had to get home to finish writing my speech for the next morning.

Wednesday it was back to the Hyatt where I got to be the first speaker of the morning. The energy in coming from our members was amazing and CNN even to followed some of our members to interview them after their hill visits. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this not only a great NATCA event, but also a newsworthy one. Rich Ulmes led the effort for the NLC and this is clearly the best lobby week we have ever done. Both Rich and Alan Clendenin raved about the legislative affairs department and it seems that we have taken a giant step forward in building the working relationship between the department and the committee.

The NEB meeting began Wednesday afternoon and we were sailing through our agenda. I think having the ATMT meeting last week help clear a lot of issues that we had talked about in NEB meeting, but really need agency input to resolve. We recessed for the day and went to the Congressional reception which was held in the Cannon Caucus room, which is a beautiful formal room in one of the House office buildings. The reception was well attended by members of Congress and staff as well as all of our NATCA members. It was a fabulous reception and I don’t think I have ever posed for so many pictures in my life! Everyone I talked to was well received on their visits and it seems like we found plenty of support for both the CSRS 2% annuity and putting John Carr on the MAC. We sure generated a lot of momentum.

Thursday morning was all day NEB meeting and many members came by to see the office and sit in on the meeting. We kept up the pace from the day before and ending up finishing our business a day early. Who knew? We even got to everyone’s untimely issues. I was able to get up to my office with a few hours to plow away at my inbox which had gotten so full it was threatening the structural integrity of my desk. After a few hours of paperwork and phone calls, I went home. I got a good night’s sleep for the first time in a week.

Friday it was time to finish with the inbox, return a dozen calls, talk to a reporter, meet with several members of the office staff who have had to wait all week for my time and read my e-mail. Bill Peacock came into meet with John and I had a chance to follow up on the decision at the ATMT to get together to go over retirement projections. I will be meeting with GAO next week to help with their survey. They are very interested in getting accurate retirement projections and after evaluating all of the research methods available, they have decided that a survey is the best way to get accurate information. I will keep you posted, but we want to ensure that they get the highest possible response rate: higher returns = better data.

This afternoon, I met with several representatives from ALPA to discuss how we can work together more effectively. I told them that if they want to improve relationships with NATCA members, ALPA members need to stop making cockpit announcements that blame us for delays. I said that they seem to forget that controllers are also airline passengers. Also, while at one time it might have been just offensive, but now putting forward the impression that controllers are responsible for delays threatens our profession. They committed to taking action. They will be including the issue in their magazine and working to educate their members. It will take time, but it is progress.

On their side, they asked that we respect their profession when it comes to the media. They cited a recent news story in Minneapolis where a controllers said a near miss occurred because the pilot failed to properly respond to a TCAS alert, well if we are saying TCAS has to save the day, I see where the pilots would be offended. They have committed to work to stop bashing us, and we need to do the same for them. I used this story to illustrate ALPA's issue, however, after contact from the rep., I have learned that the incident became a near miss as a result of a TCAS alert that was only followed by one pilot. He focused his interview on the limitations of TCAS, however one of those limitations is the requirement for both pilots receiving alerts to respond.

We also talked about increasing pilot participation in Communicating for Safety in Denver this fall. This is a great opportunity to rebuild our alliances with the pilots. I hope that controller participation is also high. If you don’t know about it call your trusty safety committee rep. I talked about the FLL fly over and subsequent DAL complaints that resulted in restricting MIA traffic and how we can address those types of issues more productively. We are going to exchange contact lists so that Fac Reps will have an ALPA rep to call when there are local problems and visa versa. It was a productive meeting and we committed to having them on a regular basis.

Great week! Great Lobby week! Great Board meeting! I am going to get my husband and head off to NJ for the weekend to celebrate my father in law’s 70th birthday. It was great seeing everyone.

In Solidarity,

Ruth Marlin




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