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September 2021 New England Bi-Monthly Regional Update #1

From Mick Devine, NATCA New England Regional Vice President

Three years ago today, this leadership team took control of the region and set out to install our vision of how a region labor union should be run. We ran on the fact that we would open up communication and build the region from the membership up by creating redundant systems of members who could assist the membership and leadership through delegation of duties.

We created a communications team led by Shannon Lyman (ZBW), assisted by Danyell Fairburn (BED) and Jim Davoli (ZBW). They were tasked with providing the membership with constant and relevant information on an ad hoc basis as well as provide monthly updates on the first of every month. They have knocked that tasking out of the park. Not only did they open up the method of communications, but put out a survey to get feedback from the membership on how those methods of communications were working and what they could do to improve. Using that feedback, they have changed our communications style by cutting down on the information given each month into two updates (one on the first and one on the fifteenth of each month) in order to make it more palatable.

We said we would provide accountability and transparency with our communications by letting you know what your leaders are doing throughout the month. Those monthly emails are designed to do just that as we have provided a monthly review of your leadership’s schedules. This slightly changed through COVID as all time spent was done to protect our members from the harmful effects of the pandemic.

We ran on changing the way we break down and argue cases in the Labor Relations arena. This team was led by ARVP Scott Robillard (A90) and Kyle Szary (ZBW) and are assisted by Byan Krampovitis (ARVP/BDL FacRep), Matt Morgan (BOS FacRep), Nick Marrangos (A90 FacRep), Josh Boyd (ZBW), Racheal Schelhorn (ZBW), and Joe Allen (ZBW). They have succeeded in their tasking and have moved the goalposts towards the union’s favor by reducing discipline during very difficult conditions as a result of the Executive Orders, as well as utilize sustainments rather than settlements to hold management accountable for their misdoings.

We campaigned on growing the activism of our membership by expanding the search for members to fill vital roles meant to protect our membership. We created new positions: Regional Training Rep (Lisa Fulford, A90), Regional Schedule Reps (Jim Basford, A90), Regional Drug and Alcohol Rep (Jim Basford, A90), Regional NCEPT Rep (Jake Detwiler, ZBW), Regional Election Support Committee (Caitlyn Valeri, ZBW), and Gordon Green (PVD) was named as the newly designed Federal Contract Tower Rep, just to name a few. Our leaders that were already in positions when we took over maintained their leadership positions and are well on their way to creating teams beneath them that could take over during times of leave, emergency, and resignations from their positions. They’ve lived by Sir Richard Branson’s motto—Train your people so they can take your jobs, treat them in a way that they never would. A leader cannot be considered a leader until they mentored a leader who has mentored a leader.

Through COVID, our OSHA (Matt Murray, ZBW) and OWCP (Steven Spiller, BOS) Reps were instrumental in protecting our membership by providing options to our members who were so unlucky to have acquired the COVID virus and help by ensuring our RL3 cleanings were being done correctly as well as our vendor Level 3 cleanings were done properly. Kudos to both of those brothers for their tremendous work. COVID also brought in a new position, Supplies Rep (Ben Nutter, BED FacRep) who was equally instrumental in ensuring that all cleaning supplies, as well as masks, were made readily available to our membership. While Bill Cudney (ZBW) continues his masterful job as the regional chair of the finance committee, we have added Mike Difalco (BOS) as the mentee for that position. Bryan Krampovitis took over as the regional Onboarding Rep. Aimee Brown (ZBW) was put onto the national Election Committee as well.

We were put into positions to replace other members in leadership positions through attrition. Danyell Fairburn (BED) took over the Professional Standards Regional Lead position and even created a deputy chair (Steve Schefcik, PWM). Jennifer Dickinson assumed the role of Regional Chair of both CISM and Reloaded. Jamie Green (PVD) was approved to take over as the regional Legislative Chair and will assume that role from Andre Jean (A90) in the coming months.

The state of our progress through our first three years has been exactly what we thought it would be, but there is so much more work to be done. Three years from now, we will hopefully show you the same amount of success and movement as we were able to show during the first three years. Thank you to all the members, leaders, and activists who make this type of positive momentum possible and make our vision of this region a reality.

As for our month, on August 3rd, I visited Boston Tower. While this was mostly a visit to renew my Massport badge, I was able to spend some time with some of the newer members as well as some old friends.
From August 9-10, I was in Washington DC at our national office to help onboard our two new NEB members. At the beginning of our term three years ago, there were six brand new members to the board and we did a week-long onboarding meeting with the entire board. This term, there are only two new members and so we decided to do the logistical onboarding with just those two.

From August 11-12, I was joined by ARVP Bryan Krampovitis, Alternate Legislative Chair Jamie Green, and Pro Standards Chair Danyell Fairburn on a trip to ACK, PVD, and Y90. We had great visits and had an opportunity to speak with a lot of members, including a great dinner with our ACK members and their families. Thank you to Trevor Wheelock (ACK FacRep), Nick Cassano (PVD FacRep), and Tim Roig (Y90 FacRep) for their hospitality and all the great work they are doing on behalf of their membership.

On August 13, the current NEB had its final scheduled NEB meeting. This was quite surreal and was spend doing business and looking ahead, not once looking behind. Also, on the 12 and 13 of August, I was working with the FAA to create a new CDC gaiting criteria spreadsheet which was needed to activate the new mask MOU. While I can’t take a lick of credit for its creation, NATCA’s team did a magnificent job creating this spreadsheet in the small window we were given. A special thanks goes out to Kristina “Jonise” Jones (ZDC) for all her hard work and expertise in creating that spreadsheet.

On Monday, August 16 we met with the FAA to discuss the next NCEPT panel. We were not able to finalize the next panel as we are still working on the rules for that panel, but we do have a follow-up meeting next week.
I was joined by New England’s Senior Advisor Curt Fisher on August 16th to go up to BTV for a facility visit. As always, BTV members showed up and were engaged in discussion. We were joined by many members for dinner and even stayed out a little longer to socialize over some nasty pickle drinks.

On August 17th, we hosted another town hall for New England members to hear an update and voice their concerns. While it wasn’t as highly attended as mid-COVID ones were, there was still some great dialogue. IOUs from that meeting were sent out to the FacReps to distribute last week.

August 18-20 was spent in Washington DC hosting our very first new NEB meeting. President Paul Rinaldi has given a lot of latitude to incoming President Rich Santa to allow him to hit the ground running today, and not have to start today. This is going to be a great NEB that is going to grow this organization through motivation, ideas, and expertise. One thing I can promise, this new NEB will be holding itself to the highest standards and will not miss a beat with a new President and Executive Vice President. The timing is right for good change to this organization and the right players are in place to make that a reality. This NEB will not accept the status quo.

On Thursday, August 26th, I visited MHT. MHT wrapped up our internal mandate to visit every FAA building before the end of the summer. You can tell a lot about a building like MHT by simply looking at the data. Their staffing is always at or above 100%, very rarely ever a problem, and only one or two ERR’s outbound. FacRep Dave Provencher has made a facility that people want to be at. Kudos to Dave and all the members of MHT for being a beacon of professionalism and building a facility all members should strive to be like.

FCT Regional Rep, Gordon Green and I will be visiting all of our FCT’s during September. Out FCT’s have grown from two facilities three years ago to almost 9 today. We are in the process of voting on one facility and another is reaching out as we speak. One can’t look at this fact and not give credit where credit is due. BOS FacRep Matt Morgan has worked tirelessly to increase the footprint of this region and get so many Air Traffic Controllers to be represented by NATCA. Without his hard work, and the continuous great work of Gordon Green in representing these buildings once they are organized, Matt’s job would only be made harder. Gordon’s success is Matt’s Success and vice versa, and their successes are our success.


From Scott Robillard, NATCA New England ARVP

Hello New England,

Last month, I left you with a five-question scenario, and I told you I would answer this month. So here we go!

The scenario: There is an investigation into a broken driver’s door window of an Operational Supervisor’s (OS) car. The location where the OS parks is NOT covered by the security cameras. The Agency knows the incident occurred between 7:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. You worked a 1:30-9:30 p.m. shift, and the Agency has decided to interview you. You are the first to be interviewed.

Q: Are you a witness or a subject?
This is a trick question because it can be both. It all depends on what the Agency knows when they decided to interview you. If all they know is that the window was broken and you were in the area around the time when it might have occurred, you are a subject.

Why? Because they don’t know who did it. If they knew or had a strong indication of who broke the window, they would be looking to strengthen their case by finding witnesses. In instances where they don’t have a strong indication of who did the act, then all interviews should be considered as a “subject interview” until they have a subject.
This is a common mistake by the Agency. When they have no idea who broke the window, they sometimes believe they can ask anyone if they saw who broke the window.

In Article 6, Section 1, there is a provision that says “If during the course of a meeting it becomes apparent for the first time that discipline or potential discipline could arise, the meeting shall stop…”

If the Agency does not have a subject (suspect), and they are interviewing an employee, the fact that they choose to interview means this is not the first time it occurred to them that potential discipline could result based on the answer to the question(s) they have prepared to ask.

Q: Are you entitled to NATCA representation?
As a subject, yes.

As a witness, the technical answer is no. However, many managers have come to realize that it is in everyone’s best interest to allow representation.

Q: How do you obtain NATCA representation?
It’s easy to make mistakes if you stop reading Article 6, Section 1 too early. The section says that the employee will have a reasonable opportunity to obtain and confer with a Union Representative prior to the meeting. However, the last sentence of Article 6, Section 1, is controlling: The Union retains the right to determine the representatives. While the employee will be told to obtain representation, the manager should be conferring with the FacRep. If he/she doesn’t, how do they know if the representative who walks into the meeting with the employee is the representative the FacRep appointed for this specific meeting?

Short answer: call your FacRep.

Q: Can you refuse to participate?
100 percent no. It is a condition of employment that you participate.

Q: Do all of the Agency’s questions have to be based on facts?
No, they do not.

Coming this fall, NATCA New England will be conducting a workshop where we build off of the Representation in the Meeting class we taught in early August. What we are planning is to take a group of reps and break them into three teams with Bryan, Curt, and Scott. In separate groups, we will conduct mock interviews based on actual, real New England cases since 2018. All three teams will use the same cases, and we will conduct mock interviews. We will document how each of the three teams approach representation in the meetings, and we will then compare and discuss the results.

If you are a Representative in a facility or desire to be one and want to be included, please advise your FacRep.

To protect your rights, you must know your rights!

Next month’s scenario:
You receive the sad news that your aunt has died. You desire to attend the funeral, but do not have enough annual leave to cover the absence. Is the Agency required to approve your Leave Without-Pay (LWOP) request?


Labor Management Relations

From Kyle Szary, NATCA New England LR Coordinator, ZBW

The current Regional PAR-level grievance snapshot is as follows:

1 grievance remanded back to the facility level pending resolution
5 grievances slated to be addressed during the third quarter Pre-PAR meeting
6 TOTAL (+0) from August update

2021 Q3 Pre-PAR

The New England Region third quarter Pre-PAR meeting will be held on Friday, Sept. 3 at Boston TRACON. NATCA representatives will include ARVP Scott Robillard, ARVP Bryan Krampovitis, myself, as well as observers Nick Marangos (A90 FacRep) and Steve Brown (PWM FacRep). Grievances not resolved at this meeting will proceed to the official Pre-Arbitration Review (PAR) hearing, which is tentatively scheduled for the last week of September.

Did you know?

If you’ve ever filed a grievance, you know that the road to resolution can be long and complicated. A grievance may move through many levels (Step 1, Step 2, PAR, Arbitration), involve many hands (your FacRep, regional LR teams, the ARVP/RVP, NATCA national LR), and different Agency departments and lines of business. You may very well forget it was filed by the time it circles back around to you!

One way we try to shorten this process is by first invoking Article 8, which contractually compels the Agency to try and find a way to solve the problem at hand even before Article 9 Grievance Procedures are started. Article 8 has its own timelines, but on the whole, it’s very much abbreviated compared to Article 9:

ARTICLE 8 PROBLEM SOLVING 

Section 1. The Parties recognize that the traditional methods of dispute resolution (e.g. grievance/arbitration and unfair labor practice charges) are reactive and not always the most efficient means of problem resolution. The Parties also understand that an early and open exchange of information is essential to clearly address the concerns or reservations of each Party. Therefore, the Parties are encouraged to use the provisions of this Article to seek resolution of problems through a proactive approach before resorting to other avenues of dispute resolution.

Section 2. The Parties to this Agreement support the following technique:

a. When a complaint/problem/concern arises, the employee, Union or Agency may notify the other affected Parties within ten (10) days of the event giving rise to the complaint/problem/concern. A meeting will be held within ten (10) days of notification, which will include the bargaining unit employee(s), the appropriate local Union representative, and appropriate management representative.

b. The purpose of the meeting is to allow the employee, the Union, and the Agency to freely present, receive and/or exchange information and their views on the situation.

c. The Parties shall try to find an opportunity for problem resolution and, if one arises, it will be, with mutual agreement, acted upon.

d. If the matter relates to pending discipline, disciplinary action will not be issued during the meeting.

e. If the Parties are unable to resolve the issue under this Article, the Agency shall render a decision within ten (10) days of the meeting. Once the decision has been rendered, and if appropriate, the employee may proceed with Article 9, Section 7, Step 1. Upon request, the provisions of Article 9, Section 7, Step 1, will be waived and the Parties will proceed under the provisions of Article 9, Section 7, Step 2, to resolve their complaint/problem/concern. The Agency or Union may proceed with Article 9, Section 7, Step 2. The time limits in Article 9 begin when the decision is rendered.

f. This basic format may be modified with the written agreement of the Parties at the local level.

g. This Article shall not diminish the Agency’s right to discipline, where otherwise appropriate, nor shall the rights of the Union or the employee be affected by this Article.

Section 3. The Parties shall continue their support of training on problem-solving techniques and similar programs which the Parties mutually agree to pursue. The Union and the Agency shall mutually agree on the scope, content, development, and arrangements for delivery of any joint problem-solving training under this Article.

Section 4. Official time, travel, and per diem shall be granted to Union representatives to attend jointly agreed upon training/briefings on joint problem-solving techniques.

Regionally, we encourage all New England FacReps to start with Article 8 meetings before grievances are filed. Many times this preempts Article 9 altogether, and even if there is no Article 8 resolution, it allows your NATCA representatives to begin the Article 9 process with a more solid footing.


Training Initiative

From Lisa Fulford, NATCA New England Training Rep, A90

New England district did very well with meeting the NTI goals for the month of September. We averaged in the top 3 for most weeks. Thank you for working so hard to get training accomplished in your facility!

The NTI workgroup has been working hard to continuously improve the data, as well as what is shared with facilities. They are now including the training time for employees who did not meet the weekly goal, due to certain selected impediments. For example, if a trainee was on leave for two days, yet averaged enough training time for the three days they were at work, their time is now counted in the facility average. This ensures an accurate reflection of the training that is being accomplished.

The picture shows this last week’s top 3 impediments chosen by each service area and the top 3 chosen by Boston District. This is another way they are tracking what is going on within the facilities. Union and management should be meeting weekly to discuss the reports, the impediments, and ways to improve training within the facility. If you have any suggestions on how to improve training in your building, speak with your training rep. We need your input and ideas!

There are two OJTI classes scheduled later in the month. There is a huge need within the region to train new trainers. The district hopes to hold several more OJTI classes in the coming months. We are also working on getting 4 to 5 people in the OJTI cadre class. This is so we have more trainers in the New England district who can teach the OJTI course. If you are interested in attending the OJTI cadre class, please email lisa.cyr@natca.net

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions email the training reps at: TEBWTraining@gmail.com


Safety Management

From Seth Myers, NATCA New England Safety Rep, ZBW

In the last 18 months, we have seen our workplaces go through many changes. Traffic, schedules, staffing, and other factors have all gone from one extreme to the other. As controllers, even with all these changes and issues, our number one priority is to keep the flying public safe, and the airplanes moving has not changed! We all know that distractions in the operation are ever-present and all of us need to work to keep them out of the operation. No text message, phone call, or notification is worth the risk of endangering the flying public or compromising the safety of the NAS. NATCA and the FAA have been committed to getting rid of these types of distractions. I wanted to share with you a few points from a “Turn Off, Tune-In” video I watched as I thought it did a good job of letting us think about how the world has changed and is changing. The Controllers operating the NAS before us didn’t have to combat electronics. It is important for us to all be aware of how technology interacts with us as we may not even realize how it impacts us. You may read the below points and think that doesn’t apply to you, but does it apply to the person sitting next to you, or behind you?

  • In 2011 35% of adults owned a phone, today over 67% own one.
  • Mobile phone users interact with a phone more than 1500 times per week on average, that is more than 214 times per day.
  • Every day mobile phone users share 60 million Instagram photos.
  • Every day mobile phone users share 700 million snap chat photos and videos.
  • Every day mobile phone users send 17.6 billion text messages.
  • On average 2/3 of mobile phone users check their phone even when there is no ring or vibration.
  • Half of mobile phone users reach for their phone when they have nothing else to occupy their attention.

So, what are the costs of distractions like the ones above? Distractions reduce our ability to see information in our environment by 50%. Distractions can cause a 10% drop in IQ which is more than 2 times the effect of drugs and alcohol, and equal to losing a night of sleep. Distractions cause us to forget where we left off 50% of the time.

While all distractions have implications in the operation, leaving your cell phone and other electronic devices out of the operation can really have a positive outcome on our mission as controllers. How does your facility foster and carry out the mission of the Turn Off Tune In campaign?


Paul and Trish Retire

An era of NATCA Leadership has come to an end; President Paul Rinaldi and Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert have retired. NATCA New England thanks them for their many years of hard work and dedication to our Union!

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