<!----Enter Date Bellow *************> Weekly Update for January 19, 2001 <!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>
Weekly Update for <!----Enter Date Bellow *************>January 19, 2001 <!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>

Sisters and brothers...

I've been reading a lot of traffic on NATCA.Net concerning the scheduling of prime time leave for the purposes of being released to work OSH. I don't know if many recall, we had this same discussion in Indianapolis last October at our FacRep meeting. To say that there are diverging thoughts concerning NATCA support and participation would be a nice characterization... However, I am a little concerned with the notion that BUE's are selecting prime time leave, then canceling it for a duty assignment at OSH.

Far be it from me to interfere with the policies you've negotiated at your own facility; I understand the dynamics are different at each, and interpretations can be made to work best for you and your members. However, let me say this, A24 S9 states that when a BUE cancels scheduled annual leave and returns to duty, he/she shall be assigned to work the shift which he/she would have worked, if the annual leave had not been scheduled, unless operational requirements dictate or allow assignment to a different shift.

Granted, there is a lot of room for interpretation. If an employee was granted leave and then cancelled, is it possible based on operational requirements, to be assigned duties at OSH? Yes it's possible; it would depend on the negotiated procedures or policies for approving a different shift when this situation arises. It is also possible, based on negotiated procedures and policies, that the employee would have to return to their previously assigned shift, and forgo the duty assignment. I'm not going to tell any facility which way to negotiate your local procedures, only that you must be consistent with the CBA. If an internal grievance were to appear, I believe the NEB would rule on the grievance based on the negotiated procedures used at that particular facility.

On a side note, it appears as though the NGL is leading the nation in reducing errors compared to last year; we are down 28% (raw numbers). Further, 50% of the errors are a loss of separation less than 80%.

Whether or not you know, the region is still short of controllers to work OSH. Quite frankly, it serves them right. The agency is unwilling to support this activity. In fact, they gave the region $170,000 to fund the event, including travel, OT, and various rental equipment needed to support the convention. The remainder of the cost has to come out of the region's operating budget, used for salaries, benefits, training and overtime; guess what gets cut... I believe that the agency needs to adequately fund the cost of this event, not just for those going, but those left behind to work the traffic and get their well deserved leave. My thought is that the harder it is to get qualified BUE's to work the event, the sooner the agency will cough up the funds. Otherwise, expect to see a curtailment of services...

It looks like we are well on our way to decriminalizing operational errors and deviations. Congratulations to the team who negotiated the MOU, especially our brother Bryan "Zman" Zilonis. This MOU represents the first stride in bringing the notion of operational errors up to speed with current technology. I believe as a Union, we continue to strive in providing the safest and most expeditious service on the planet, and that requires a commitment from each and everyone of us to do our job professionally and competently. This MOU doesn't remove the requirement for top notch performance, it removes the punishment for out dated rules that have no place in the system we currently operate.

The NAR national MOU appears to be just about agreed upon. There are two minor issues that I believe we can resolve by the end of next week. If you haven't heard, the NAR MOU was proposed by NATCA to provide a concrete method of designing airspace changes by facility teams without burden of potential impacts associated with those designs. The MOU requires that any changes to made are negotiated locally, regionally and by the FacRep, RVP and national President. The MOU also addresses any potential compensation and staffing changes that may result from redesign to assure that BUE's are not negatively impacted by those changes. The MOU also addresses other issues concerning duty time, resources, etc. Finally, the NAR MOU allows us to move ahead in developing the best possible airspace changes will provide the greatest benefit to our customers now and in the future.

Unfortunately, there is still no word on the progress of the PCS/IPP MOU. I know that John Carr had a meeting with Bill Peacock this week and the agreement is that both parties are committed to resolving this as quickly as possible. I know that this may sound like the same old story, but all I can tell you is that it is imperative that it be completed soon; not only as far as the Union is concerned, but the agency as well. We can't remain at a stand still much longer; it is truly harming our membership. I promise that as soon as I hear anything on this MOU, I will report back to you right away. I will continue to enquire and push for completion.

The GAO was in the RO yesterday interviewing Chris Blum and the AT division about the 10:1 ops sup ratio and the CIC program. It seems that an inquiry had been received by the GAO, initiated by someone in Congress. They would not say who was behind the inquiry, but suspect FMA... it appears that everyone's interested in our CIC program .

For the centers, the NRP tactical adjustment program appears to be working splendidly. I've asked Rick Norris to begin pushing for expansion into the other identified routes that will greatly alleviate complexity, gridlock and delays in the system. He will contact ATT-1 to begin scheduling modeling to justify implementation. Hopefully, we will have more relief for the users and the controllers when spring thunderstorm season begins.

The RO has approached me about reviewing the authorized staffing numbers for each facility for colander year 2001. I am probably going to agree a few small changes to some facilities. I want to give everyone a heads up with this point: authorized staffing numbers do not amount to very much. Unfortunately, we are understaffed in this region, not only with on board controllers, but in the authorized category as well. Both Chris and I agree on this point. At any given time, we can change the numbers to reflect what we believe is required to staff any facility. But due to the regional number of 2937, we have to identify what each facility must be authorized. Quite frankly, no matter what I change, facilities are going to be upset that they are having bodies taken away. And on paper, this is true.

However. many of the facilities we have in the region are staffed above the authorized number. All of these fall in the lower terminal category. Since we are currently restricted with the PCS/IPP movement, We can't get BUE's out of the lower level facilities and into the higher level facilities. So, the larger facilities cannot even staff up to their authorized numbers. Additionally, I want to ensure that our lower level BUE's have the opportunity to move when that issue is resolved, so the overstaffing of these facilities will enable them to get quick releases and provide relief to the higher level facilities.

This entire process is like hitting a moving target; we are constantly reviewing the authorized number based on the amount of new hires we are allowed to pick up each quarter. Once the PCS MOU is finalized, we can start moving BUE's up the ladder so to speak, and staff the higher level facilities accordingly, regardless of the authorized numbers - they can be changed. So I ask you to bear with me on this, and not panic over your legitimate claim that more staffing is needed, you are preaching to the choir...

As for future planning, the national staffing MOU requires that the parties at the national level develop a staffing standard that addresses the authorized numbers for next year. I am determined to make sure that that standard reflects determination of staffing based on the amount of traffic and operating positions required to move airplanes, among other considerations.

Well, that's about all I can remember for one night... I'll be at the NEB meeting all next week, so if you need to get a hold of me, page me or call on my cell phone. George should be in the Chicago office most of the week, but he probably needs to get some currency time as well. I hope everyone has a safe and relaxing weekend, even if you have to work.


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