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Sisters and brothers...
Even though I've been "team building" most of the week, it appears that issues continue to move along regardless...
First off, I would like to congratulate all of the men and women in this region and those outside, who were involved in the ZID outage this week. It can't be said enough that the professional air traffic controllers are the only safeguard to this system; when all else fails, we perform our greatest achievements. The country is fortunate to have us, and the public needs to be reminded every chance we get. I will stay on top of the findings concerning the power failure so that we can avoid this problem at other facilities.
Apparently, the contingency plan did not implement as smoothly as hoped. The region is in the process of developing a "lessons learned" document to help us transition to ATC-0 more safely and efficiently the next time we are presented with a problem like this. I will send out this document to all so that you can provide any feedback and/or improvement to the contingency plan. I know this type of incident takes years off an individuals life... been there, done that; got a t-shirt for it!
Beginning Monday, our third level advocates will be locked up with regional personnel resolving grievances. I am very hopeful that we will come out of this meeting with some positive resolutions to the nearly 200 grievances being addressed. What's left that can't be resolved will be addressed by Chris and I November 27. Our direction to this group will be to resolve the issues. Hopefully by next Friday's update, I will have the results to publish, at least that's my goal...
For the centers...the national choke point sector validations are entering their final stages. Six sectors have been granted "approved" status (all 6 are in AGL). The facility NAR folks have been tasked to prepare specific sector briefings on the remaining sectors for a national meeting tentatively scheduled for Nov. 20-21. As it stands now, representatives from ATA, ATP, ATX, and ATT along with someone from the regions, the NAR reps, and possibly the Fac Rep's and facility managers will be assembling to discuss the specifics of the sectors. I understand this to primarily be an effort to prioritize and justify the sectors.
Unfortunately, they are being asked to rehash some of the same questions that were asked the first time we went through this. Additionally, it appears as though someone from ATT is helping to drive the meeting agenda, as we are now being asked questions that the sectors were never designed to address (specifically, "will the new sectors accommodate more NRP, and will the new sectors allow for the reduction of SIDS/STARS"). Don Ossinger is supposedly working with the national office on insuring that someone at FAA HQ and NATCA are addressing the needs for bodies to staff these sectors, and overtime money in the interim. As usual, Deny Burke (AGL-520) and Rick Norris (NATCA 520 liaison) have pushed back on the issues of NRP and SID/STAR along with some others that ATT raised. These sectors are really the result of system wide neglect, and do not give us further flexibility, but rather address current, near term system survivability needs.
I have asked Laurelle to look into some hotels rooms in Chicago December 11, 12, and possibly the 13th to hold a level II and III terminal FacRep meeting. Many times it appears that the lower level terminals are left out of the big picture consideration, especially involvement in national and regional issues. I want to make sure we get our lower level terminal folks involved with NATCA up to their eyeballs... you folks have much to offer, and are certainly willing but for the obvious staffing issues that the larger facilities more easily absorb. I would appreciate all who have ideas and concerns to email me with your thoughts so that this larger facility bumpkin doesn't overlook what really gets your shorts in a bind.
I have agreed with Jim Digadi to meet with a group of his engineers and our OSHA team to discuss and come to an understanding about what we are looking for from them concerning all of the modernization projects that will affect our BU's. There are several tower projects in the early stages of development that the engineers can design to meet our needs as controllers. Additionally, there are many other projects that too often, we find ourselves at odds when we should be working together; after all, this was one of the major reasons we organized them; to help each other. Don't know when this will take place, but probably sometime around the terminal meeting.
Speaking of OSHA, I have been dealing with a serious issue concerning mold spores in the MBS ATCT. One of the molds has been identified as stachybotrys which is a particularly nasty strain that may pose a risk to employees. Unfortunately, biological microbe thresholds have not been identified by OSHA like particulates such as asbestos. The agency has removed sections of ceiling tiles and corrected the areas of origination and now considers the problem corrected. However, I have requested that air samples be taken throughout the work area to ensure that particulates are not floating around the facility; the agency has agreed to do so. We will evaluate the level inside the facility and compare it with the quantity found in the outside air. If the level is greater inside, I believe further action is required.
In the meantime, I ask everyone to examine your facility for water stains on the ceiling tiles. Stachybotrys is generated from water moisture, which usually originates from condensation off of poorly insulated pipes. I know that we have many very old towers in the region, which probably hasn't gotten much maintenance over the years. Request from your manager a safety walk through per Article 53 and inspect areas that may generate moisture and provide a place for this mold to grow. I don't intend to scare everyone with this information. There are several conflicting reports about the dangers of stachybotrys. But I believe we need to err on the safe side.
Flu shots were a subject of discussion this week. Apparently there is still some confusion about who is eligible to receive a free flu shot from the FAA. In the past, the agency has delivered quantities to each of the centers on a first come, first serve basis, for the employees assigned to these facilities and the surrounding facilities. Evidently in years past, employees who couldn't get to the centers were reimbursed up to $7 or $8 for securing a flu shot on their own. Unfortunately, no one knows how it will be done this year if at all. I will let everyone know as soon as I find out.
OSH - I made an agreement with the region on OSH. I have agreed to allow BUE's with 6 years experience to bid on the assignment. However, they are not to be considered unless the required number of 5 year or less applicants cannot be filled. Concerning the support in overtime, Chris is unable to guarantee backup support for this function. However, he will make the request from headquarters for adequate funding of this event and if provided, agrees that if there is a need for OT it will be used. Now, that is about as solid as Jell-O. My advice to you... if you cannot support the loss of a BUE for this event due to insufficient OT and leave requests, then don't. That is completely negotiable.
Now I understand that many of you will not be happy with this decision; we are quite divided as a Union on this issue. However, I felt that a sufficient number of reasons provided during our discussion in Indy, and many of the responses I received from FacReps convinced me that this event is a great opportunity for our members and Union to show that we are the best in the business. In the meantime, I will be making my case for OT at FAA headquarters so that our members get a fair shake to participate. Kay Zahoric is working on contacting the EAA for another angle on the funding issue. I am more than willing to address a different approach for the next convention, but it just didn't seem like we had enough consensus or time to develop another for this year's event.
We are patiently waiting for the parties to discuss the PCS/IPP MOU on November 8... so stand by for an update. Until that is complete, we will probably not make any decisions concerning IPP movement in the GL region.
Finally, A reporter from the Chicago Sun Times has gotten hold of the FAA's report concerning the OIG's investigation at C90 last September. Neither the Union or the agency provided this to the reporter; it was given to him by someone at the facility. The paper intends to write a story concerning the report and the alleged events of July 17, 2000. If you are contacted by any media representative concerning this issue, please provide no comment, and ask that they contact Sherrod Shim at NATCA National. Once the agency learned of the leak, they made the report public. the following is the NATCA press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Doug Church
Nov. 3, 2000 202.628-5451, x4802
DOT INSPECTOR GENERAL REPORT:
WASHINGTON, D.C. - After the release of a final report assessing events of
July 17 at a Chicago air traffic control facility, the National Air Traffic
Controllers Association said it is standing by controllers.
"Because our internal review and assessments of the Chicago TRACON events
are ongoing and because we must honor the privacy of federally employed
personnel, we believe it is inappropriate to comment," said NATCA President
The report was released today by the Federal Aviation Administration, which
investigated the events with the Department of Transportation inspector
NATCA is the certified union for 15,000 FAA air traffic controllers, 1,200
engineers and numerous other ATC professionals, as well as for Department of
Defense civilian and privately employed controllers.
Well, I think that's about all for now... I will be in Chicago on Monday to kick off the third level session with Chris, and then back to Cleveland that evening. I will be in Cleveland the remainder of the week if you need to reach me. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!
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