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Happy Holidays Brothers and Sisters!
I can’t believe 2000 is coming to an end so soon and the real turn of the millennium is only a week away. This week has been quieter than most, but not without its adventures. The Communications committee is working hard over the holidays to transition our web presence over to a new internet service provider. Promark is out of business and we will be using Verio by the end of January. Promark advised us around Thanksgiving that they would be going out of business effective November 30. Luckily, we were able to contract month to month with one of the owners to ensure we would have service for our members while we found a suitable alternative.
There were many options before us and I got call from around the country from individuals offering to bid on the contract. The month-to-month contract allowed us to conduct a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the possible vendors and weigh the benefits of a service provider against an earlier proposal to bring everything in house. Ben Phelps and the Communications Committee evaluated all of the proposals, toured vendor facilities and came up with a solution for NATCA that not only meets our needs, but offers increased reliability and has a lower monthly cost than our previous contract. Susan Grundmann is in the process of finalizing the contract details, while the Communications Committee is taking over the technical work to transition to the new servers. We will be moving to Mailsite software, which will replace Imail. Ben has assured me it does not have the security holes that allowed us to end up on the blackhole list earlier this year.
We are merging all of the NATCA domains and revamping the site - I am sure we will alerted here when it is time to unveil the new cyber NATCA! If you have any ideas, suggestions, or just something you always wished we had online, contact your friendly communications committee member.
Several legal issues regarding the NATCA logo have come up and Susan Grundman is giving us the legal spin on steps we must take to protect the trademark of our logo and still give NATCA as much freedom as possible regarding its use. I will be bringing the issue of logo guidelines to the January NEB meeting. Speaking of the logo, John has asked Adell to get estimates on a prominent logo to go above the door to the reception area on the first floor. It seems every time you attach something to a building the price goes way up.
Speaking of the internet, I got a e-mails or calls from several of my friends at ZMA to ask about TMC seniority issues. Which evolved into a topic for the telcon that afternoon.
I had several conversations with Barry Krasner regarding NMI and the building in general. For those of you that were not aware of it, Barry is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for NMI which administers the building and its funds. So if it is too hot or too cold when you come to visit the offices, please call Barry.
Tuesday afternoon brought a flurry of excitement when the IG released a report on the increase in Ops errors. While the rate is still less than 0.7 per 100,000 ops, it is way up from the 0.51 that the agency had a few years ago. The report says that traffic is up 12% while errors are up 51% over the same period. This got more than a little attention in the press and the holiday timing could not have been worse. The report failed to consider that although traffic is up 12% controller staffing is up 0%. I gave several interviews mentioning the increasing pressure on controllers to reduce delays, confirmed the IG’s assertion that the FAA makes no distinction between minor errors and those where safety is jeopardized. USA today included our response in their article and Reuters ran with our perspective including NATCA’s concerns that the IG report does not get to the root cause of errors and does not look at controller staffing and fatigue
The Washington Post ran a BIG story and emphasized that ZDC has the highest rate in the country. Luckily Ajax had a meeting on consolidated pay rules and took time out to give a response which detailed the agency’s delay in implementing an OE/OD reduction plan and since they put it in place in October, ops errors are down. It appears that we will get the last word on that one. Mike Blake will follow up with the national OE/OD workgroup perspective.
Have I told you that Doug Church, ace reporter does a bang up (maybe I shouldn’t say that when we are talking about deals) job for you? BTW, he asked me why we call them deals. Anyone?
PRM was the issue of the morning for Wednesday. This issue is starting to fester like LAHSO between pilots and controllers. Center controller that I am, I will leave it to the experts to propose the best course for NATCA. I had to break away from the meeting to attend the NEXCOM rulemaking committee meeting. This is a group that just formed and unfortunately they are considering a "shortcut" for spectrum management. I have yet to see a shortcut that gets us to the end result any faster. The FAA, RTCA and ICAO have spent the last 7 years approving a move to VDL-2 which supports datalink and provides the frequency allocation we need for the future, but Europe went to 8.33, which splits the current band but doesn’t support datalink. NATCA is a member of this rulemaking team and we need to ensure the FAA doesn’t chart a path that locks us into a future that doesn’t meet our needs.
I also got a call from Sanford Tower that made my day. In and amongst all of the issues, debates on technology, financial oversights, meetings, office politics and projects that make NATCA the dynamic and exciting union that we are, someone stops you to say thanks. I love doing my job everyday, but it is easy to get caught up in the moment of it all. Every so often a member calls to say how much they appreciate it. They also sent cookies to the National Office that were enjoyed by all. Thank you Sanford.
Thursday was my last chance to wrap up office stuff before Christmas. I made sure NATCA’s bills were paid and activists are reimbursed and approved the Fac Rep mailing. Bob Howard stopped by the office since he was in town working the stoves issue. We commensurate about the cold and played "I’ll be back in Florida before you." Worked with Doug Church on the NATCA’s holiday press release and stopped by Christine Corcoran’s office to see if we had time to get January 11, 2001 declared NATCA day. She found out that they need a 3-week lead-time, so she started work on a letter explaining why. I asked Howie Bart when the NATCA logo saw its first use and he send me back January 11, 1986. It was used for the first time officially at the fist meeting of regional and national reps to organize after AFGE pulled out. Apparently that meeting was in Washington DC and a little math tells me that was 15 years ago. Christine called me this morning with a compelling letter and sent it off just under the wire.
Well I am finally home in Florida, finishing this update as I wait for Scott to come home from a night shift. I exchanged pages with Jim D’Agati, talked to several people back at the office and ended this week as I end most, talking to John Carr about the week’s work, next week’s plan and the future of our union. I will be flying back to DC on Christmas day since Scott has to work and my father reminded me that he hasn’t seen me for Christmas in 10 years because I was working. That’s no excuse this year.
As I spend Christmas Eve with my husband I will remember those of you who are working, as I do every day. Merry Christmas.