Region X Monthly Update | August 2021
|A Message from Our Region X RVP|
Brothers and Sisters –
July – In like a lamb and out like a lion. I think that phrase was meant for a different month and purpose in mind – weather…..not COVID-19.
First and foremost, I want to thank you, the membership, for your overwhelming support in the Region X RVP election. You have clearly spoken with an undeniable mandate for us to move our region and this union forward along the path as a professional union who is here to protect our members, work with the agency as a partner, be a solution driven labor organization, to maximize our individual workplace flexibilities, to champion our professions, and to both protect and maximize our pay and benefits. I am committed to these opportunities and challenges and will look to each of you to help us meet these objectives. We are stronger together with a wide variety of perspectives and insights that guide us to make the right decisions at the right time for the right reasons.
You all have seen many messages coming from the White House, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Department of Transportation (DOT), the FAA, and Congress. Let me address each of the major items in this month’s message to inform you of where we are at with each topic.
The return to the offices: While we were working with the FAA on this topic the DOT pulled the proverbial rug out from under the FAA with a directive to have the workforce return to the offices across the country in a three-phase approach. The first phase would have one-third of the workforce return October 4th, another one-third return on November 15th, and the remainder on January 3rd. The FAA reacted to this directive and notified NATCA of their intent to begin sending recall notices to the workforce. NATCA has issued a cease-and-desist letter and we have requested a briefing so we can understand the plan and negotiate the specifics and any impacts. We are in the process of scheduling a briefing. While we have had many preliminary discussions on the return to the office space conceptually over the last eight months, the mandate by the DOT clearly has changed the trajectory of our discussions. I will provide updates as they become available.
Something we need to recognize is that the DOT mandate was envisioned during a time frame when prevalence of COVID-19 was on a clear downturn. The rapid resurgence of COVID-19 cases across the nation with the current Delta variant will very well likely impact any initial timing plans with DOT. However, the concept of a phased return I expect will remain the overarching plan and the exact time frame will likely be a function of the relative risks of COVID-19.
Mask Policies: Region X remains in a maximum emergency telework posture and any updates or changes in mask wearing requirements are somewhat irrelevant to our day-to-day work (I recognize there are many of you who are performing work outside of a home office and this statement is general in nature). With the ever-evolving COVID-19 virus we will work with the agency to update mask wearing requirements in federal facilities as appropriate. Currently there is a mandatory mask wearing policy in place for FAA headquarters in Washington D.C. This expectation has not yet extended to other facilities. NATCA at the national level is in daily discussions with the agency on the mask issue. If we agree to an updated mask policy, we will announce it nationally through an updated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
Vaccinations: The White House has announced vaccination requirements or routine testing for federal workers. As with any directive from the White House, DOT, or Congress, the crux is in the details. The FAA has yet to approach NATCA with any plan on what these requirements will entail or how the FAA proposes to implement them. We will be ready to listen to the agency and prepared to negotiate any proposed plan they may present. Any movement on this topic will be clearly communicated with all the membership from a national perspective as it impacts each of our members.
Field Work/Travel: We continue to have field work, construction oversight, surveys, inspections, and other tasks that require travel in many of our lines of business (LOBs). These activities are part of our jobs and fulfilling our mission for the agency. I need each one of you who are in a travel status (day trips to long term TDY) to take every precaution to protect yourself while on travel. We have worked with the agency to ensure that your preferred travel methods are being approved, regardless if there is extra cost to the agency. You should have every opportunity to practice social distancing to the extent practicable by using a privately-owned vehicle for travel. You need to also be mindful of other aspects of travel and limit interaction with as many people as possible in areas of the country that are still experiencing high levels of COVID-19 transmissions. As examples, where you choose to eat, where you choose to stay, where you come into contact with others at the job site, etc. Please do all that you can to protect yourself and those around you (wearing of masks, use hand sanitizer, social distance, stay home when not feeling well, etc).
COVID-19 Leave and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: This act was signed into law in March and the agency took an extended period of time to prepare a plan on how to implement. NATCA was notified of the FAA’s plan last week and we are negotiating the details with the agency currently. There are benefits and consequences of using this type of leave and once NATCA and the FAA come to an agreement on the implementation, NATCA will prepare guidance on how to utilize this leave. I am hoping this will be finalized in the very near future.
The COVID-19 Delta Variant: It is fair to say this entire pandemic has been unpredictable. Just when it appeared that, as a nation, we may have turned the corner to putting COVID-19 behind us at the beginning of July the Delta variant came racing back exponentially to remind us that we are not done with this yet. With the unpredictable nature of this pandemic, I believe we can clearly expect additional challenges in the months to come. We will tackle these challenges head-on and I will continue to keep you updated on developments as far in advance as possible.
Annual Leave: Although Congress approved the carryover of a portion of use or lose leave last year, there is no guarantee there is either an appetite or any plans to do so again this year. Be mindful of your leave balances and take time to relax and refresh yourself through the remainder of the year. Keep in mind that a transportation infrastructure bill is moving through Congress and while it likely will change before final passage, we are beginning to plan for the language contained in the current draft of the bill for the FAA. Many LOBs will see an increase in funding, and with that, some of you may see an impact to your workload. Plan your leave time in advance so you do not find yourself with new work obligations that may interfere with your need to take leave. This will give both yourself and the agency advance planning to figure out how the work will get done for the remainder of the year around all of our planned leave (especially those of us who use substantial leave around the winter holidays).
Take care of yourselves and be safe!
Region X RVP
NATCA Region X Contact Information
Region X National Leadership
Brad Davidson Regional Vice President
Bob Aitken Alternate Regional Vice President
Curt Howe Alternate Regional Vice President
Gwendolyn Kimbrough AFN National Representative
Felicia Reeves Airports National Representative
Patrick Massie Aircraft Certification National Representative
Pam Rusk AIT National Representative
Stacie Wooten Drug Abatement National Representative
Region X National Committee Representatives
Don Schmeichel – National Safety Committee
Ingrid Knox – National Safety Committee
Mike Martin – National Constitution Committee
Don Smith – National Organizing Committee
Jefferson MacDonald – National Organizing Committee
Homer Benavides – National OSHA Committee
Quang Nguyen – National Benefits Committee
Della Swartz – National Historical Committee
Jason Holland – National Legislative Committee
Dawn Forde – National Legislative Committee
Ricky Hidalgo – National Drug & Alcohol Committee
Corey Glaze – National Pay Team
Ed Szczuka – Finance, Onboarding & Collaboration Facilitator
Pam Rusk – Regional Communications
Thom Twitchell – National OWCP Committee
Vacant – National Reloaded Committee
|Region X Updates & Meeting Notes Archive|
No July Meeting
March 2021 Contract Extensions & Call Notes
January & February 2021