April 2022 New England Bi-Monthly Regional Update #2
From Bryan Krampovitis, NATCA New England ARVP
As day-to-day operations get closer to normal, pre-COVID levels, it is important to look back and remind ourselves what has changed during COVID and what will need to transition back to normal coming out of the pandemic. Before traffic fell because of COVID many buildings were understaffed; some working six-day workweeks trying to train their way out of a staffing deficit. Chances are COVID didn’t help these facilities get into a better place.
With summer coming and most traffic returning to normal, we are also restarting the national training initiative (NTI). For those who don’t remember or those hired during COVID, the national training initiative sets specific goals for the number of hours a trainee should receive per week. For the first time in the FAA, the NTI program provided the metrics needed to ensure the agency prioritized training. This allows trainees to focus on their primary job, training, as opposed to counting as staffing in a building and extending their training by months or even years. This allows the union to ensure the agency is utilizing all available resources in order to prioritize training, including overtime, proper watch desk staffing by management, and frequent audits to ensure the integrity of the training process itself.
There is no doubt returning to normal, and putting an emphasis back on training, is going to change the way we have been working for the past two years. We will likely have to open positions we’ve kept combined, change the way we manage a shift rotation, and expect management to make efforts to meet NTI goals. We have to remember that this is getting us back to normal. It is easy to forget how hard this job can be sometimes and the effort required to ensure trainees are getting adequate training. The only way to get your building to a healthy staffing level is to train your way out of the deficit. What follows when you embrace training and make it a priority? Better schedules, more leave, more time for collaborative workgroups to tackle facility issues, and the ability for people to move around via NCEPT.
From Curt Fischer, Collaboration Facilitator, Eastern Service Area North, A90
As your NATCA Collaboration Facilitator, I teach, along with my Agency counterpart, a two-day Collaborative Skills Training course. Collaboration Skills Training (CST) was originally established for ATO managers and NATCA representative(s) to attend and participate jointly. While ATMs and FacReps are required to attend, the course is also available for additional employees of the ATO, regardless of leadership level, and the course no longer requires an established counterpart or identified Agency/NATCA pair. We continue to push this eLMS-credited course down to other NATCA facility leaders whether it be Training Reps, VPs, Area Reps, etc.
But what is collaboration, exactly, and more importantly how is it supposed to work in my facility? Collaboration is a word that gets tossed around a lot but is sometimes misunderstood. What is the difference between collaborating and co-managing? And how can I tell which one I’m doing?
We can begin to better understand the differences by using a shared definition when approaching the issue. Some years ago, I was advised by a manager that the ATM was my boss, and I should act accordingly. I responded that my boss was my in fact my RVP using the definition: a boss is a leader who leads from the front. While this was an amusing back and forth that still makes me smile, it highlights the point that having a different definition can lead to different expectations. Fortunately, the definition of collaboration has already been agreed upon by both NATCA and the Agency and cemented firmly into our contract for reference. Please get to know the definition with your counterpart so you can better work collaboratively to modernize and improve the NAS and enhance the work-life and productivity of employees (see Article 114 of the Slate Book or Article 61 of the Purple Book).
Co-management implies that we are managing a facility together and we are sharing those roles and responsibilities. Through collaboration, on the other hand, both Parties share a common respect for the rights and responsibilities of the Union and the Agency. We understand and respect those differences. Therefore, to collaborate well you need to first have a good understanding of how to operate traditionally. Lacking that understanding you risk operating in both areas simultaneously, or worse yet not adequately representing your members. When collaborating, we ensure that both Parties’ interests have been identified and as many as possible are addressed before an outcome is determined. This is not just giving your input when asked, nor is it reviewing a decision that management has already made. Recognize when you are operating collaboratively and when you need to operate traditionally. Understand that collaboration is not construed as a waiver of any Union or Agency right. This knowledge will help build trust with your counterpart and preserve your relationship.
From Matt Murray, NATCA New England OSHA Rep, ZBW
We all know that when you are injured “on the job” you need to fill out a CA-1 form but did you know you also need to file an OSHA 300 form. The OSHA 300 has nothing to do with compensation but it is very important the identifying workplace injury trends.
When an employee is injured “on the job” and meets certain criteria it is known as an “OSHA recordable.” The 300 form and a summary of the event are then submitted to OSHA. These reports are collected and reviewed locally by the Establishment OSHECCOM (the facility level) and the Regional OSHECCOM to identify any possible issues. The Regional OSHECCOM reviews all of the OSHA Recordables over the last four years to see if there are any trends and if there is anything that can be done to reduce these incidents in the future.
Overall, the FAA is a very safe place to work. In the New England Region, the majority of the incidents we get every year are “Slips, Trips, and Fall”, “Ear Tones”, and injury due to “Lifting.” Right now, you should have the 2021 OSHA 300A log posted at your facility that depicts how many injuries occurred and how many days (of work) were lost due to injuries.
Over the last two years, we have seen a new issue pop up, “illness caused by chemicals.” People have reported issues resulting from the chemicals being used to clean our facilities during COVID. People have reported things from “headaches” to “nausea” from the fumes of the chemicals being used.
This is why it is important that we review the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for every chemical that comes in or is being used in our building. Article 53 Section 10 of the Slate Book, clearly states that SDSs shall be provided to the union “prior to use or storage.” I had to address this issue when the agency was bringing in hand sanitizer and wipes that were causing skin irritation. Yes, even the Market Basket brand hand sanitizer has an SDS sheet and it shall be provided prior to being distributed throughout the facility.
If you have any questions, please reach out to me at Matthew.email@example.com or 603-494-3095.
The OSHA Committee will be holding a one-hour Webinar on “Contract Protections” on April 28th at 4:00 pm Eastern. This workshop is great for people who are looking to become the OSHA rep for their facility or those looking to become the Principal Facility Representative someday. Sign up at portal.natca.net!
From Lisa Fulford, NATCA New England Training Rep, A90
Happy Spring! The district held an OJTI class at Murphy Drive at the beginning of the month. I would like to thank Jeff Aulbach (ZBW) for teaching a majority of our OJTI classes this past year. He will be retiring this fall and we will miss his commitment and dedication to teaching our new OJTIs. Thank you, Jeff!
We only have a few OJTI cadres at this time and are working hard with FAA headquarters to schedule a class. If you are interested in becoming an OJTI cadre and have not submitted your name yet, please let your FacRep know ASAP. We are looking at September now, as summer is fast approaching and facilities will not have the staffing to support a class.
This past week the National NTI workgroup held telcons to brief new FacReps, new Training Reps, and new management on the NTI and the goals of the initiative. The briefing was an overview of the current initiative and did not add any additional requirements or impediments. However, the workgroup created a weekly tracking sheet for facilities which is accessible on the KSN. Most of our facilities already employ a tracking system, however, this provides a digital, universal tracking system. It will be up to the facility management and NATCA to agree to employ the digital tracking system.
There were 7 position certifications this past week within our facilities, and Trifon Valencia and Robert Hixon, both at Y90, recently certified! Congratulations to all of you on your hard work and to your training teams as well. As always, your training reps are open to any suggestions you have to improve training, as well as listen to your concerns with the training process. You may reach all of us at TEBWtraining@gmail.com
Upcoming NCEPT Panel
From Jake Detwiler, NATCA New England NCEPT Rep, ZBW
The Rules for the May 17 NCEPT Panel have been released. Please review the rules attached. These are similar to the rules used in the February Panel, including the 2nd round specifically for placing BUEs from Levels 4-7 into facilities that are Levels 8-9. Facilities that are level 8-9 do not get Academy Grads, this carve-out allows those facilities to select BUEs from facilities that are overstaffed and that routinely get Academy Grads (the Agency places terminal Academy Grads into 4-7s).
Monday, April 18 is the deadline for submitting an ERR to be considered in this panel. On April 27, the PPT data for this panel will be released. This will be the data that determines whether your facility is eligible to gain or lose. As always, if you have any questions about the process please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out NATCA.org/NCEPT.