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September 21, 2012 // Facility Spotlight: FAA Western Service Area Headquarters Facility, Seattle

The Northwest Mountain Region X NATCA members at the FAA Western Service Area Headquarters facility are one of nine original Region X locals. Thanks to their lead, there are now 11 Region X locals located across the nation.

In November 1997, when engineers saw their work was being taken away and their profession threatened, the NATCA Northwest Mountain Region X members organized so they could have a voice in the workplace. After certification, the NATCA National Office had to assign an identifier to the Region X local because it wasn’t an actual facility in the National Airspace System (NAS). The local was eventually deemed “ENM” — “E” for Engineers and “NM” for Northwest Mountain Region. The same naming logic was applied to the other eight local identifiers that followed ENM. Nowadays, the ENM members like to say that ENM stands for “Employees Northwest Mountain” region.

ENM was originally comprised of the ATO engineers and architect unit only, but now represents nearly 140 employees including a wide variety of professions such as contracting officers, drug abatement inspectors, aircraft certification engineers and pilots, technical writers, real estate contracting officers, airport engineers and planners, avionics engineers, en route and terminal requirements planners, airspace evaluators, and all disciplines of engineering related to building and improving the NAS. By dues-paying membership, ENM is now the fourth largest NATCA local in the Northwest Mountain Region behind three air route traffic control centers in Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Denver.

The ENM local has eight bargaining units and four contracts to administer. The local executive board is made up of eight chapter vice presidents (similar to the air traffic control bargaining unit area representative position), individual unit representatives based on membership numbers, as well as a president, secretary, and treasurer. Currently, 12 members comprise ENM’s executive board. ENM’s primary goal is to get as many of its members as it can afford to national NATCA events.

Since its certification in 1997, ENM has continued to grow and add more positions to the unit. Most recently ENM spearheaded an 11-month campaign to organize about 35 more air traffic control staff specialists who were deemed “management officials” by the FAA. The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) now says they are NATCA. ENM is also a key local in moving forward NATCA’s organization of another two national units within the ATO services centers.

The Local ENM enjoys monthly and quarterly catered and barbecue lunch meetings all year. Sometimes the members meet after work at a local pizza joint for open discussions and information sharing. Every October, NATCA ENM holds a solidarity night at the local bowling alley.

In their free time, NATCA ENM members enjoy all the Seattle outdoors has to offer, including hiking and camping in the nearby Cascade Mountains, as well as skiing, sea kayaking, and whitewater rafting in local rivers. A couple of members have unique outdoor hobbies, like an ATO Operations Engineer who is on the United States Air Rifle Team, and a safety engineer who is a certified ship captain. NATCA ENM also has its fair share of Seattle Mariners and Seahawks fans, in addition to several Sounders FC fans.

NATCA ENM Representative Curt Howe said that working with the Seattle members is great. He added that the most enjoyable part of being a NATCA representative is the chance the Union has given him to broaden his understanding of labor relations and interpreting FAA policy, through training and specific working relationships with NATCA staff.

“This helps the local a lot when combined with staying put in my position as representative for the last 16 years,” said Howe.

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