<!----Enter Date Bellow *************> Weekly Update for February 09, 2001 <!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>
Weekly Update for <!----Enter Date Bellow *************>February 09, 2001 <!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>

Weekly Update for February 9, 2001


Sisters and brothers...


Today's update may be a bit truncated; I'm feeling a little under the weather today...

S2K+1 - Spring/Summer 2001 is the big talk of the agency. In fact, it is the number one priority. I know a lot of our members working the boards have little faith or believe they will see much impact from all of the communication about this program. However, I support this initiative for several reasons, and I believe that BUE involvement in the NAS and traffic management is imperative to a safe and efficient system. I strongly believe that unless the work force participates and sees results, we will all have wasted our time and effort.

As John Carr has stated, the drum beat of privatization is growing louder every day. As an organization, the FAA and the Union, are continually fighting off spin after spin about how antiquated and inefficient the NAS is, and that a private corporation could bring ATC up to speed much faster than a government bureaucracy. In reality, 98.5% of all U.S. flights are on time. So why the huge national outrage?

I would venture a guess that because so many people are flying these days, that 1.5% equates to a lot of passengers who have been inconvenienced not only on pleasure excursions, but business travel as well. The question is, how does the safest and most efficient system in the world get better?

I believe that we must be proactive participants in addressing our critics and the challenges that face this growing system. There are ways to squeeze more efficiency out of the system without jeopardizing safety. In fact, I believe we can increase efficiency as well as safety by initiating some of the ideas on the table like NRP reduction, tactical altitude assignment, and additional sectors to name a few. But even more than that, we need to query and act on controller expertise on a real time basis. But controllers need to know the entire story...

I think the major thrust of S2K+1 can be summed up in one word... communication. As an example, one go around at EWR caused a 45 minute delay in MSP; a miscommunication initiated a ground stop as far as MSP within 2 minutes. On the other hand, spooling up releases after a significant weather event takes hours to initiate. When the pilots ask controllers what's up, we can honestly say we don't know. And how many times have you been able to start taking aircraft, sitting there twiddling your thumbs, only to be told that there is a ground stop somewhere down the line...

This season, we must take an active role in traffic management. We must utilize our airspace as efficiently as we can, and we need to have up to date and accurate information so that correct decisions can be made concerning the flow of traffic. Not only do we owe it to the flying public, we must consider the privatization lobbying effort, the money behind it, and the new administration, which favors private sector control of the air traffic system. You've all seen it before, if people keep hearing the same message, they start believing it even though it isn't true. And although NATCA has gone to great lengths to discredit the misinformation being bombarded on the public, everything we can do to make the system better only shows that we can do it better than a private corporation.

I ask all FacReps and members to engage in the S2K+1 initiative. I view it as an opportunity to be more involved in the management of traffic in the system, working hand in hand with our brothers and sisters in TMU. A modified version of the 8 hour training is being developed for the controllers, to be administered by May 15. If our input isn't being addressed, we need to get that up the line as fast as possible before the apathy sets in... I will be more than happy to ensure that it is brought to the attention of the folks at HQ; they have as much incentive as we do, seeing how Nav Canada fired over 1000 middle management personnel one year after they went private...

Ops Errors - NGL is down 27% in operational errors compared to the same time last fiscal year even though the same number of errors for the entire country are identical; kudos to all of the hard working controllers out there... I have not heard of any problems so far, concerning the implementation of the Ops Error MOU. If you believe it is being misapplied, let me know.

The NTSB is stating that they are concerned for the safety of the flying public now that the separation standards are somewhat trivialized by the agreement NATCA and the FAA reached. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the MOU strengthens the criteria for serious performance issues, and treats minor procedural infractions as they are - without danger to the users. Everyone wants to keep telling the FAA that we don't utilize the system efficiently, and then tie our hands behind our backs. Separation standards, especially for the en route option, are outdated and inefficient. Before the snitch, controllers ran aircraft much closer than today in a safe manner. However, we must always be cognizant of our primary purpose...

PCS MOU - It is my understanding that all of the regions are compiling the list of vacancies to submit to a central clearing house. How the PCS money will be distributed, I have no clue at this time. Carol Branaman has been answering questions on Natca.net; if you don't have access, send them to me and I'll forward them on.

CPC Training Failure/Withdrawal Agreement - This issue will be initiated by John in the very near future; more info when I have it...

RDO Changes - It is becoming increasingly more prevalent that management is changing BUE RDO's more than 7 days in advance to accommodate staffing shortages rather than call in OT. I believe that any change to a BUE's RDO constitutes a change to the basic watch schedule, and requires negotiations per A32. I don't know how much ground we have on this issue, based on the wording in the CBA, but I don't believe an assignment to the watch schedule constitutes changing RDO's identified in an employees basic watch schedule. I expect a few grievances to find their way to the 3rd level, and we'll do the research.

Medical Information - The RO informed me today that the medical department would no longer be faxing medical disqualification documents to the facilities due to privacy issue concerns. I assume that this also means documentation identifying an employee's medical qualifications have been reinstated. This probably means yet another delay in the medical "black hole" department. Not certain that a phone call to the manager couldn't accomplish the same results, but...

Next week I'll be doing 3rd levels with Chris Blum at ZOB. If you need to get a hold of me, send a page. Thursday I'll be in DC participating in the initial staffing standard discussions per the MOU; Friday back in the office. Hope everyone had a great week...


Pat



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