The August Recess: A Great Opportunity to Engage With Your Member of Congress
Members of Congress are back in their districts during the month of August. This is an opportune time to engage them. Below is a list of things that our activists can/should be doing next month, along with guidance and talking points.
If you haven’t had your member of Congress to your facility for a tour lately, you should work to make that happen in August. Reach out now, since their schedules for August fill up fast. Remember, the goal of a facility tour is to show our members of Congress the important, professional safety work we do. We don’t need to focus on issues during the tour unless the MoC engages us. Keep the tour focused, as much as possible, on giving them a thorough picture of what we do, day in and day out, to keep the flying public safe.
Many members of Congress hold in-district fundraisers during the month of August. Be sure our activists are in touch with the member of Congress’ campaign fundraiser to be on their fundraiser list. This is an election year and we want to take advantage of their increased fundraising.
Town Hall Meetings
Most members of Congress will be doing some sort of constituent engagement next month and these are prime opportunities for us to engage. Our activists should routinely check the MoC’s official and campaign website for engagement announcements. As most of you know, you may not always get a chance to speak to the member of Congress at a town hall meeting, depending on the size of the crowd. Do NOT get sucked into discussions about other issues – stick with our issues if you do get a chance to ask a question. If you don’t get a chance to ask a question, at least try to shake hands with the MoC and thank them for holding the town-hall and for any past support they’ve given NATCA.
Members of Congress are always looking for volunteers to walk in parades with them. This is a great opportunity for our activists to show support for a member of Congress who has supported us. The campaign office usually arranges these events.
As we all know, we are in the middle of an election year. Members of Congress will be in full campaign mode when they are back in the district next month. Volunteering on the campaign of a member of Congress who we support is a great way to build that relationship. The campaign volunteer coordinator can help our activists get involved with campaigns.
Government Affairs has provided the general guidance and talking points below for any issues engagement our activists have with members of Congress (MoC) or their staff during the August recess. As you can see, they are simple and straightforward. As always, if our activists are asked about an issue and they don’t know the answer, they should respond with, “I’ll Get Back To You,” make a note and send it to their NLC member
so we can get it to Government Affairs. If any of our activists want to get a little more substantive information before meeting with an MoC or staff, they should g
o to the Government Affairs section of the National Office Departmental Update
to get the latest.
Use the general guidance and talking points for the various situations in which you have interaction with the MoC or staff. Not all are applicable for every situation, so use as appropriate.
Guidance & Talking Points
– Thank the Member for the dialogue with NATCA and with his/her local NATCA members.
– Talk about your profession.
– What’s it like on a daily basis?
– What makes a good day?
– What makes a challenging day?
– What made you decide to become an air traffic controller or other aviation safety professional?
– Tell the Member you are proud to be a public servant.
– (If applicable) Thank the Member for standing up for federal employees, and FAA/DOD air traffic controllers and aviation safety professionals from the constant attacks on federal employees from the Administration and Congress.
– If you have mutual friends/acquaintances, or similarly – if you have similar hobbies/interests as the Members – discuss these to start/continue conversations to find common ground.
– Discuss numbers of FAA controllers and aviation safety professional constituents in Member’s district/state and where they work, if possible. Members are always interested to know their voters.
– Provide information about the various ATC facilities and FAA locations in Member’s district/state.
– Touch upon staffing shortages and how this impacts your work and how it adversely impacts the overall national aviation system. (especially if there are shortages in your specific facility – National talking points on staffing shortages can be found here.
CAUTION & GUIDANCE
Always be vigilant about the Hatch Act. Our members CANNOT participate in political activity while on duty or on federal property. That includes lining up campaign volunteers, soliciting members to attend fundraisers, etc. If the nature of the activity is directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group, then it needs to be done off duty and off federal property. As always, if you have any question or concern, ASK. Learn more about the Hatch Act
Tours for Candidates Who Are NOT Members of Congress
Federal employees may allow sitting members of Congress and other elected officials to visit federal facilities for an official purpose. That may include receiving briefings, tours, and other official activities. Federal agencies are responsible to ensure that candidates who visit on official business do not engage in any political campaign or election activity during the visit.
We’ve had several requests this cycle for tours from candidates who are NOT currently members of Congress. It is important to remember that tours for candidates who are NOT sitting members of Congress IS a Hatch Act violation in most cases. See NATCA Special Counsel to the President Eugene Freedman’s guidance on this subject:
Federal facilities may not be used for campaign activities such as town hall meetings, rallies, parades, speeches, fundraisers, press conferences, photo-ops, or meet-and-greets. Therefore, federal employees are prohibited from authorizing the use of a federal building or office for campaign activities, including candidate visits. If a candidate or campaign requests to visit federal facilities, such requests are viewed to be presumptively for campaign purpose and NOT official business. In most cases these requests will not be able to be accommodated, because they would put you at risk of violating the Hatch Act. If a candidate who is not a sitting member of Congress asks to visit a federal facility, please contact NLC Chair Steve Weidner and Freedman to discuss the particulars of the request and whether it can be accommodated before the election without any Hatch Act concerns.
It is very important that our activists loop their NLC member
in on any tour requests. This gives us general awareness, allows us to tailor talking points, and most importantly, gives us the opportunity to keep our activists safe from inadvertent violations of the Hatch Act or other law, rule, or regulation.