<!----Enter Date Bellow *************> Weekly Update for November 10, 2000 <!----End Enter Date Bellow *************>
<!----Enter Date Bellow *************>Weekly Update for November 10, 2000 <!----Enter Date Bellow *************>

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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:


Nov. 3, 2000 202.628-5451, x4802


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
Sisters and brothers...

It appears that the agency has determined the problem that caused ZID to lose all power last week. They believe the critical power cables are arcing and causing an extreme load on the circuit breakers (in simple terms). The critical power cables and the buss switch were apparently damaged a while back when the facility had a flood problem. It is believed that some of the older cables were damaged from that, and it took some time for the right circumstances to present itself which caused the crisis.

This Saturday (tonight), ZID will cut power and implement the ATC-0 contingency plan. All of the facilities surrounding and underlying ZID have been briefed and supported with overtime while the technicians replace the damaged cables. Everyone is very confident that this job can be completed from start to finish in less than four hours. If not, the agency is prepared to extend the contingency plan, including the use of more overtime and the implementation of traffic management restrictions.

The parties have met nationally concerning the PCS/IPP MOU. Although a final resolution has not been determined, I would like some feedback concerning the issue of unlimited IPP or non paid moves. I believe this is going to be the lynch-pin issue.

The agency has determined that they have funded less than three dozen moves last fiscal year. Based on the MOU, the parties agreed to now limit the same number of non-funded moves for FY 2001. If we cannot move more than approximately 36 BUE's via IPP procedures, and If the Union holds the agency to the MOU, could the agency be forced to place new hires in the higher level facilities? The MOU states that the agency shall select an existing BUE for an opening in any ATC-9 level facility prior to placing a new hire, but if they are limited to very few IPP selections, can the agency place new hires in the ATC-9 level facilities because of our agreement (only 36 IPP's) and management's right to assign work? This is most probably a legal issue determined by a third party.

On the other hand, if the Union agrees to change the existing MOU and allow for more or even unlimited IPP's, will we see the end of paid moves?This is a very realistic outcome. I need to know your thoughts on the direction our Union takes regarding this issue. Please canvass your membership on their feelings as well. Whatever direction we take, will have an impact for many years to come. Please do not wait. I expect the NEB will discuss this issue next week at our meeting, so page and/or email me ASAP.

The NEB received two letters the previous week, one was a withdrawal of the EVP election protest by the member who filed the original protest, and one from Randy Schwitz declaring that he requested his name be removed from the ballot of the second run-off election ordered by the NEB a few weeks ago. Based on these events, the NEB elected to reconsider the previous decision and voted not to conduct another run-off election. With that, our elections are completed, and Ruth Marlin will continue as NATCA's EVP. I am looking forward to her contributions to our organization; I know she'll deliver...

The RO has advised that about 70 employees, not all BUE's, failed to receive correct October pay increases. The region is well aware of the problem and is diligently correcting the situation. The last pay check represents the final installment of the reclass. Many of the problems associated with transitioning into the system over the past 2.5 years should now go away; the rules are pretty much straight forward.

Third level discussions went quite well, according to the advocates. The parties did not get through all of the issues, but more than half have been disposed of either by settlement, denial or withdrawal. I was hoping to get a thumbnail picture of the results out this week, but that isn't going to happen. We will work on that over the next few days, so hopefully, we'll have some results to you all by mid week.

It is my intention to provide a written explanation to each and every grievance, whether withdrawn or settled. This will go to the grievant, the FacRep and the advocate. As a FacRep myself, sometimes I just couldn't understand why a grievance ended the way it did. I hope to provide rationale, and whether you agree or disagree, there will be an explanation.

I have begun a proposal for Chris that pins down some time limits on settlement agreement and withdrawals. In the past, NATCA would wait weeks for these documents to be prepared and signed. That process needs to be expedited in my opinion, because it becomes very difficult to explain to someone what the disposition of their grievance is when I don't have a signed written agreement.

Chris and I have agreed to review past denials and determine if we would like to reopen some of these for possible resolution. Some of these will require third party determination, but most could be settled. Chris and I have a meeting scheduled for November 27 in which we will attempt to resolve those grievances that couldn't be resolved at the third level review (very few). Then we will attempt to resolve those that the advocates could not get to based on time constraints. The next third level review is scheduled for January, 2001, primarily due to the holiday season. After the first of the year, I want to increase the number of third level reviews so that we don't get into this backlog situation again.

I have been informed by one FacRep that his manager has determined that CIC training is mandatory, and therefore, BUE's in CIC class are not available for annual leave coverage. I disagree with this guidance, and have asked the national office to look into the negotiated CIC agreement concerning this issue. If the same management interpretation is being briefed at your facility, let me know. More info next week.

And incase you haven't heard, MBS ATCT and TRACON was evacuated Friday afternoon when an exterminator came to the facility and proceeded to drill a hole in the wall looking for a dead animal. Unfortunately, the wall contained potentially hazardous asbestos. As of this morning, the agency has completed a satisfactory cleanup and the employees are back in the facility. What next for those poor folks who have to endure the criminal working environment up there...

Taylor Koonce was dispatched this morning to provide his expertise, and will supervise more air testing to get some data on the mold problem. I personally believe the facility should be demolished immediately...

Next week I will be in DC for the annual NEB budget meeting; I'm sure it will be fun <G>. George should be in Chicago if something needs immediate attention, and as always, I can be reached via my pager or cell phone. Have a great weekend.


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