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Brothers and Sisters,
Another week has come to an end. John and I started Monday morning with a briefing on NATCA’s privatization workgroups. We will be restructuring the effort and Dick Swauger is arranging for the current team members to come to DC to provide their expertise and perspective on NATCA’s strategy to fight both contracting and privatization.
Lew Zietz, in his quest to identify members only benefits, brought in a group from Insure America and AETNA to propose a dental insurance package for NATCA members. There are a number of pitfalls in any program, including minimum registration numbers that must be evaluated. Lew is committed to narrowing down the options to those benefits that will provide members with a quality product that is reliable and provides good value to our members. During the presentation, we discussed how member purchased benefits could be paid for. In group insurance the provider does not do individual billing, they would just bill the group. The most convenient method for the member and NATCA is payroll deduction, but I commented that many of our members have already used their two allotments. The insurers were not aware of the other deductions that members can elect that don’t count against the allotments (like NATCA dues and PAC contributions). As I was briefing John on the proposal, I asked what he thought our chances of setting up a voluntary labor deduction for NATCA benefits when he remembered that the contract team strikes again! They negotiated 2 deductions in addition to dues in the ‘98 agreement.
Tuesday, in addition to paying a stack of NATCA’s bills and reimbursing our activists (which is part of every day), I met with Andy Banks at the George Meany center. Andy is assisting NATCA in identifying academic researchers willing to do a study on the risks of privatization for the US Air Traffic Control system. He recommended a gentleman named Paul Hudson, who is a consumer advocate focusing on aviation. Most recently, he has written about airline over scheduling as the major source of delays. On my drive back to the office, I called John who was giving a radio interview, guess who was on the radio panel – Paul Hudson. I look forward to talking with him next week. Later that afternoon, John and I met with Tom Farrier to discuss controller issues related to the F16 midair in South Florida.
Wednesday started early as John and I met in the office at 6:30 to go to breakfast with Jane Garvey and Monte Belger. We discussed a myriad of issues, including developing strategy for working together with a new administration in the White House. We talked about working together to oppose any privatization initiatives as well as the possibility of some joint public relations. Back to the office for a meeting I had scheduled with a member of NATCA’s staff. Speaking of our staff, throughout the week, John and I went around to employee’s offices to thank them for their contribution to our union, talk about their raises and give them their new salary for 2001.
Next was a meeting with Jim Washington, ARS-1. He and I worked together when I was the ARS liaison. Dale Wright had given me two issues to raise which were resolved instantly. We talked about the new Executive Order, the Terminal Business Unit the FAA is setting up, and speculated about Ron Morgan’s replacement. He also asked about a rumor that NATCA is getting rid of Blackie. I had to ask if John and I were firing him or if he was quitting. You know I love to stop a rumor. He said he had heard that John and I were sending him back to ZDC. I had to tell him that there wasn’t anyone in NATCA or the FAA that had as much knowledge about FAA technology projects as Blackie, except possibly Wade, who we aren’t getting rid of either, and we would be fools to get rid of him.
While I was in the meeting the National Communications Committee assembled and began their joint meeting with the communications department. I joined the meeting to find Sherrod and Tim Casten discussing putting out a joint statement about the future plans for NATCA communications. They talked about how the committee can make the department’s job easier and how the department can support the committee’s work, including promoting each other’s publications. There were dozens of great ideas on the table and when they broke for lunch, I left for a meeting with Frances Alsop, NATCA’s comptroller. Frances and I went through all of the NEB minutes for the year to ensure that the end of year financials reflect the changes authorized by the NEB. We will also be deleting some funding lines and inserting others.
I rejoined the Communications Committee. They have been doing a great deal of work evaluating options for our online service provider and planned a visit to Verio, to get a physical look at their operations before making a final recommendation. Ben Phelps was part of the process to ensure that any solution met our in house needs. This has been a long process, but we have gotten to a solution that everyone can support and costs less than our current contract. Tim, Sherrod and I met to discuss the issues from the meeting and discussed their relationship as department director and committee chairman.
An ice storm came through DC and although it was not as bad as predicted, it reminded me that I am not in Miami anymore. John and I were able to get around to many offices to go over salaries in the morning and Doug Church brought a news clipping from Miami regarding near misses that blamed controllers. Andy Cantwell called to work with Doug to prepare a response and correct the factual errors.
I spent part of the week working issues related to the use of the NATCA logo, trademark protection and made in USA products. I will be raising a number of logo related issues at the January NEB meeting. Mark Pallone arrived from Dallas and offered his expertise. Mark has a lot of experience with copyright issues and worked on NATCA’s existing logo licensing for vendors. We do not wish to limit the use of the logo by NATCA members, but there are certain legal steps that must be taken to protect the copyright. According to Susan, failure to protect our copyright effectively invalidates it.
Friday the Communications Committee (who don’t like being the CommComm, or the NCM and want to be the NCC, but I am fairly certain the Constitution Committee would object to that), made their recommendation for NATCA’s online service and worked with Susan on the contract. John and I went to lunch with CB Matusiak from ULLICO where we were introduced to a parade of Labor Union leaders. ULLICO, a tenant in or building, is the underwriter for Union Privilege and has other union member benefits and will be working with Lew to provide them to NATCA members.
I had a meeting with Donna Gunter to do some planning for our human resources department and develop a timeline for implementing employee evaluations. The week ended with the NATCA holiday party where a good time was had by all.