FAA Concludes ESEP Efforts
Thursday, September 30, 2010
After three long, hard-fought years, the FAA has finally concluded their ESEP efforts.
It was 2007 when Tech Ops made the decision to move forward with the Engineering Services Efficiency Plan (ESEP). The original plan involved the wholesale relocation of engineers from the nine regional office locations to the three newly created Service Areas (SA) in Atlanta, Ft. Worth and Seattle. This action mobilized the Engineering Services (ES) NATCA workforce like never before.
Immediately, NATCA began a legislative campaign designed to apply political pressure on the agency and have them reconsider the unilateral decision that was made that would affect more than 500 engineers. Activists from coast to coast and from all of our different bargaining units participated in grassroots calling, letter writing campaigns, and within-district and D.C. lobbying. I think it is safe to say that no one wants to be forced to relocate and politicians don’t like to lose jobs in their districts. What made this so much more egregious was the fact the agency never involved the union at any point in the development of ESEP, but also the plan just didn’t make sense and was just bad policy. Why would we relocate engineers to the three locations only to turn around and send them back to where they came from so they could get the work accomplished? After all, the work never left the regions; they only wanted the engineers to leave the regions.
In May 2009, the agency finally rescinded their initial guidance and agreed to stop the unilateral relocation of engineers and would instead try and meet the ESEP goals through attrition. While this was a better position, it was still contrary to NATCA’s position, which was that NATCA could support the creation of design centers but it could not be at the expense of regional office engineers. In other words, if the agency needed to create design centers then they should hire for these centers and not touch the engineering that existed in the regional offices. The agency, however, continued towards full implementation of ESEP through attrition and, in 2009, NATCA filed a national grievance on the agency’s failure to bargain ESEP.
The year of 2008 brought us a new administration and administrator, and NATCA continued the fight against ESEP. The agency had softened its position somewhat and was now more interested in engaging NATCA regarding ESEP. The process was slow and painful. It wasn’t until after the ESEP issue was elevated to the Collaborative Steering Committee (CSC) that we saw real progress. The agency was now willing to re-look at ESEP in the context of the changing workload due to stimulus spending and NextGen.
NATCA had been advocating that, once ESEP was ended, there would need to be some other plan in place otherwise the agency would continue towards the default position, which would have been ESEP-lite. We needed a strategic plan for ES. In an August meeting in Atlanta the agency finally agreed, and after much consideration, on Sept. 27, the agency sent employees a memo stating that ESEP had concluded and the agency was now working collaboratively with labor on a strategic plan that would “better position us for the future.”
I am very excited about the prospects that await us as we move forward, collaboratively, to chart a plan -- our plan -- for the future. I do not take this challenge lightly. This will require an enormous amount of work and commitment by all of us to ensure we get it right. My confidence and energy levels are high; I hope that is true for all of our members. Today was a good day for us. Our challenge now is to make sure that we continue to grow on this success and as the memo said, "...ensure our long term viability."
Thank you to all of the NATCAvists who worked so hard on behalf of all our NATCA ES engineers. Today NATCA has a seat at the table and we will be involved in determining our future...as it should be.
Region X RVP
Click here to view the FAA memo.