October 2022 New England Bi-Monthly Regional Update #1
From Mick Devine, NATCA New England Regional Vice President
NATCA New England is in the process of a reshuffle. Training your replacement is the mantra of this leadership team. Years of being told that the cupboards are bare wasn’t a good enough answer for us. We said in the campaign that they are out there, and we will find them. Let’s discuss the process.
After four years in this position, we established several new regional groups and leaders from when we took over. There were plenty of well-developed leaders and teams in the region when we took office, and we wanted to backfill those groups with tomorrow’s leaders. We talked with each leader in the region and explained our mandate of having someone they need to groom: their replacement.
Currently, we have some openings that have come up. As the ARVPs and I discussed replacements, we realized we had an excellent problem—an extensive group to choose from of highly effective leaders. Some are very well developed and done things for years for us, and others are people who have not always been doing NATCA work on their own time, but fill every other trait we look for in leaders (look at former LR coordinator Kyle Szary). We are currently going through the interview process for two separate groups for the LR Lead and LR Coordinator. We asked each candidate a series of written questions to respond to, followed by an interview. In this case, since these two positions work so closely together, the chemistry between the two is also paramount.
In the meantime, our long-time Finance Chair, Bill Cudney, has asked to step away and concentrate on other things in his life. Early in our first term, we named Mike DiFalco as a mentee behind Bill so he would have time to learn. Why do we do this? It is imperative to be ready for situations like this. These mentees aren’t meant to pressure the current leader; instead, they are there to strengthen our union and keep us moving forward when needed. We will soon be looking to replace Mike DiFalco’s mentee position. If you have interest in this position, please reach out to your FacRep.
A great way to find out what you might be interested in would be to join us for the NATCA Activism and Training Expo (ATX) the week of December 12. It will be in Las Vegas at no cost to you or your facility. President Rich Santa made investing in the education of our membership one of his highest priorities when he took over a year ago. This event is the first of its kind, and the National Training Committee has worked tirelessly to make this vision a reality.
The ATX will feature 45-minute and 75-minute classes from all committees, academy classes, Article 114 Reps, and NATCA staff. It is a way to sharpen your skills, learn new skills, get informed about roles within the union you might not have known existed, and, importantly, see what within the organization and profession might interest you. Each committee and many Article 114 roles will have booths set up in the same style as CFS, where you will have time to reach out and ask questions, network, or get further briefings. While this is a one-week event, you may go for anywhere from one day to the entire week. Any amount of time will be reimbursed. It’s that important to NATCA. More info will be coming out soon, and registration is open now. Continue reading this email for more information on how to sign up!
As you read this, we will have just conducted our first ever Safety Advocacy Training inside New England. Last checked we had twenty-two members sign up for this class. It is a significant and relatively new class. To date, not one New England member had ever taken it. The people taking this course will receive a ton of knowledge on what the agency can and can’t do regarding safety, performance management, etc.
We look forward to arming our local safety reps and the rest of Safety Chair Seth Meyer’s team to help us all be more successful.
From Scott Robillard, NATCA New England ARVP
This month let’s talk about everyone’s favorite topic, discipline.
Where does it start? How is it investigated? What is the Union’s role? What are some things a Facrep should be looking for?
The Agency will investigate when it believes an employee has committed an offense that violates Agency work rules, policies, or agreements. This is the first place you see contractual language come into play. Article 10, Section 5 states: “All facts pertaining to a disciplinary/adverse action shall be developed as promptly as possible. Actions under this Article shall be promptly initiated after all the facts have been made known to the Agency.” This is simple language, and it does a couple of things. First, the Agency can’t sit on information and wait an unreasonable amount of time to gather the facts. Second, once it knows the facts of a situation, it can’t sit on them or hang them over an employee’s head. They either must initiate an action, or they must let it go.
The standard of proof is widely misunderstood in the field. Americans have ingrained in us that beyond a reasonable doubt is the expected standard for proving a charge. But the standard is much lower in the employment world (non-criminal). Look at Article 10, Section 3: “…Any action taken by the Agency shall be supported by a preponderance of the evidence.” A preponderance of the evidence means the burden of proof is met when the party with the burden convinces the fact-finder there is a greater than 50% chance that the claim is true. That’s a pretty low bar.
Article 10, Section 3 also states that actions taken only for such cause as will promote the efficiency of the service: Conduct or Performance.
Deborah Morgan v. U.S. Postal Service (1991), the MSPB clarified matters by noting that “[a]n adverse action promotes the efficiency of the service when the grounds for the action relate to either an employee’s ability to accomplish his duties satisfactorily or to some other legitimate government interest.”
Tyrone Perkins v. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs (2011). Dishonest activity that puts the employee’s trustworthiness and reliability in doubt could also merit removal in order to “promote the efficiency of the service.
Article 10, Section 9 states that the employee “shall have the right to a copy of all the information relied upon to support the proposal.”
Recap: The Agency must develop all facts in a reasonable amount of time. They must act promptly on the facts. They must be able to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence and only act if the discipline will promote the efficiency of the service. Finally, the Agency must give the employee all the information it relied upon to render a decision.
What is the Union’s role? In addition to representation covered by Article 6, the Union ensures the Agency has met its obligations under the law, the Agency’s rules/policies, and the Collective Bargaining Agreement. This is typically accomplished through the grievance process in Article 9. Regionally, the LR Team will assist your Facrep when discipline is proposed. Generally, this is how we look at the cases and some of the guidance we give. First, the Agency has to provide all information relied upon, but the CBA doesn’t say when this must occur. We teach that the first step in understanding a case is to lock down what was “relied upon.” How? By the Union issuing the Agency a formal Information Request (IR) for all the information, the Agency used to make the decision. In New England, we have found that the Agency will often “discard” information they don’t find favorable to their case. They exclude relevant material as “not relied upon.” Example: 5 people in a room could have seen something occur. The Agency interviews all 5 but only 2 provide information that the Agency finds “valuable.” Or, the Agency only interviews 2 of the 5 witnesses to a suspected event. To counteract this, your Facrep will make a second Information Request for all information gathered, whether the Agency relied upon it or not. This second request will demonstrate whether the Agency met the contractual requirement to “develop all facts” stated in Article 10, Section 5 and whether a preponderance of the evidence supports their determination. From there, the LR team will assist the Facrep in evaluating whether the Agency’s charges against an employee are supported by the facts gathered. If the Agency fails to interview witnesses that the Union finds relevant, we will interview and use the material if it contradicts the Agency’s claims. In our mid-month update, Bryan Krampovitis will discuss the Douglas Factors and how those apply.
To protect your rights, you must know your rights.
Question of the month: Can the Agency use security camera footage to validate time and attendance?
Answer: Read Article 97, Section 10.
From Seth Myers, NATCA New England Safety Rep, ZBW
Safety Advocacy Training was held on 9/28 and 9/29 in Nashua NH, for New England NATCA members. This course provided background and knowledge of the different safety programs, processes, and requirements. Classes like these are so important to the operation of our facilities and airspace. NATCA New England would like to thank instructors Nathan Vinson (Central Service Area Safety Rep) and Anthony (EZ) Hughes (Eastern Regional Safety Rep) for taking the time to come to our region and teach this class. Our union gets its strength from our members. Our members get their strength from their expertise.
Safety Advocacy Training armed almost two dozen members of New England from many of our facilities with information about processes and procedures linked back to MOUs and orders and 17 articles from our CBA. How processes like, Partnership for Safety (PFS), Individual Performance Management (IPM), ATSAP, and many others are designed to run parallel to each other but often get mixed together or completed incorrectly. In the two days spent covering this information, many discussions and exercises were developed to have those NATCA members bring information back to our facilities in New England. NATCA New England members included Facreps, Area Reps, Facility Safety Reps, and Local Safety Council members, all looking to increase awareness and sharpen the safety processes at their facilities. EVERY member of NATCA is a leader in some way. NATCA members continue to positively impact the safest airspace system in the world. That is no accident. Each of us can and will have an impact EVERY day we show up for work.
From Steve Schefcik, NATCA New England Professional Standards Rep, PWM
The PS program continues to grow and become more utilized throughout the country. It was evident at CFS as both NATCA and FAA members stopped by the booth to praise the program and the great work all the PS committee members have done. As the program grows, so does the need for more PS members. In-person classes have started to come back, and the national team is taking the opportunity to send members that had previously done their training remotely to upcoming in-person classes. They hope to have classes every month through April as we enter the new fiscal year. Although cases have been relatively low regionally, knowing the PS program is available to members and fully backed by NATCA & the FAA is excellent to see!
If anyone has any questions about the program, feel free to reach out to your local PS committee member, or you can email me at PS.BOS@NATCA.NET, and I would be happy to help with anything you may need! Thank you all for all the great work you continue to do every day, and I hope everyone had a great summer!
From Lisa Fulford, NATCA New England Training Rep, A90
As summer ended, several trainees were certified on positions, AND we had quite a few CPC certifications. Congratulations to our trainees for working hard and achieving success on their certifications. Thank you to all of our OJTIs for their hard work and dedication to training.
New England district has been meeting NTI expectations and training a high percentage of trainees. We have consistently hit the benchmarks, even through summer leave and Covid hits. As we wind down with traffic heading into fall and winter, please continue to find meaningful training opportunities. Remember that classroom and lab count towards meeting NTI expectations, even if we are not meeting the hour expectations.
TEAM is the new training platform for keeping track of all training-related materials. Once your TEAM leads have been trained, they will teach the entire facility how to utilize the platform and what is required documentation. Some facilities have received their TEAM training, while others will be training this month. Please work with your TEAM leads in your facility and/or talk to your training rep with any questions.
As always, if you have questions, comments, or suggestions, you can reach the entire team of training reps at TEBWTraining@gmail.com.
Disaster Response Committee
Hurricane Ian has moved through Florida and the Carolinas leaving a path of destruction in its wake. Thankfully, the NATCA Disaster Response Committee and its volunteers are following close behind.
NATCA families on the coast in Fort Myers and Naples went through 140 mph wind and rain, with a preliminary storm surge up to 4.8 feet. Many members in this area are without power, without access to fresh water, and have damage to their homes. Daytona Beach experienced severe flooding, with multiple members reporting water in their homes.
“The NATCA Disaster Response Committee is actively responding to Hurricane Ian’s wake in South & Central Florida. Members in Fort Myers to Daytona Beach have been affected (so far). There has been a lot of flooding in Daytona that we’re just now getting a grasp on. ZMA FACREP Danny Garcia, VP Brandon Bonfanti, and member Austin Stoner drove 80 gallons of gas, 11 generators, dehumidifiers, fans, water, supplies, and emergency communications supplies to Fort Myers today. Thank you to everyone who is helping to support our efforts.” -Tom Flanary, DRC Committee Chair
As the hurricane moves through the DRC is sending volunteers into the affected areas as soon as it’s safe to do so. ZMA members have already moved several truckloads of supplies (generators, gas, dehumidifiers, and water) into Fort Myers, and teams are assembling to help out members in the Cape Coral and Daytona Beach areas.
How Can You Help?
Our donations help provide support to our members in their time of need. Please consider making a donation to the DRC or signing up for a payroll deduction of $5 or $10.
PayPal to email@example.com
Activism and Training Expo (ATX)
NATCA’s National Executive Board (NEB) is proud to announce that registration for our Union’s first Activism and Training Expo (ATX) is open now through Nov 1. The Expo will take place from Dec. 12-16, at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. The NEB-issued ATX Travel Policy applies. Click here to read the travel policy.
Planned to be a biennial event, ATX will enable NATCA members with all levels of experience to increase their knowledge on a variety of work and safety-related topics and expand our Union’s influence. This five-day event will showcase NATCA’s training courses along with briefings and education by many of our committee and Article 114 reps regarding projects throughout the National Airspace System (NAS).
Whether you can attend for the entire five days, only one, or any number of days in between, ATX is an opportunity to expand your knowledge in a variety of areas that can prepare you to help shape the future of NATCA.
You can build your own agenda and attend classes based on your personal interests. Sessions will be arranged into smaller modules, allowing attendees to experience all that NATCA offers. The sessions will help you identify opportunities to get involved in our Union that best match your strengths and interests.
UNUM Disability Open Enrollment
The open enrollment period for Unum Long Term Disability (LTD) Insurance has been extended and will now remain open until Friday, Oct. 7!
NATCA has partnered with UNUM to offer you the option to purchase Long-Term Disability Insurance. Our job relies on the ability to obtain a medical, but in an instant, your ability to maintain a medical can be taken away. It is important to protect your income and your family in the event that your health changes and you are no longer able to meet the medical requirements of the job. This is a great member benefit worth looking in to with open season happening now!
UNUM Long-Term Disability Insurance pays up to 50% of your gross monthly earnings not exceeding $5000 per month for up to 5 years. You can select from 3 options for how quickly you receive those benefits: 90 days, 180 days, or 360 days.
For more information or to apply during open season visit www.natcadisability.com or call the administrator at National Insurance Services at 1-866-309-0304.