NATCA Included in Key Labor/Management Forum
Friday, January 18, 2013

The progress that NATCA and the FAA have achieved and continue to make – particularly on the issue of implementing the En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) program – is due to the success of our collaborative relationship. For the past three years, both NATCA and the FAA have put an enormous emphasis on this collaboration. The aviation community is privileged to work with an administration that greatly values the expertise of its front-line workforce.

Those were the messages NATCA and the agency brought last Wednesday, Jan. 16, to a key meeting at the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations. Northwest Mountain Regional Vice President Jim Ullmann, the NEB’s lead on ERAM, represented NATCA and was joined by his counterparts from the FAA’s ERAM Program Office.

NATCA has approached its responsibility as a collaborative partner with three key objectives, particularly in matters of modernizing the airspace system through ERAM and other initiatives: Make it safe. Make it better. Make it work. Ullmann and the FAA outlined the progress that has been made thus far, highlighted by the fact that 14 of the 20 sites have reached Initial Operating Capability (IOC) status, with two more – Washington Center and Memphis Center – scheduled to go IOC over the next seven weeks. Seven sites are running continuous operations on ERAM.
"(ERAM) is like changing a tire on a car going 70 miles an hour,” Ullmann told the Council. “Collaboration is difficult and takes time and energy. But the workforce proves its value and doesn’t have fights in the field because that’s the point of the process.”

As reported by Government Executive, “to kick-start progress on using agency forums to encourage “pre-decisional involvement” of employees, the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations on Wednesday voted to create a standing Problem Resolution Committee. The new panel will lend its clout to confronting the estimated 10 percent of agencies that have yet to embrace the labor-management forums called for in a 2009 executive order from President Obama.”

This news makes what NATCA and the FAA are doing an extraordinary success and puts them ahead of the curve of other agencies.

ERAM was touted during the meeting Wednesday as one of two models of successful labor-management collaboration. The effort’s “collaborative governance highlights that we’ve embraced the presidential order,” said Jim Linney, deputy director of air traffic systems at FAA, according to Government Executive. Linney described how management sets the scope of the project but communicates with rank-and-file engineers at the varying sites to arrive at standards and uniformity in installing the software.