May 2023 New England Bi-Monthly Regional Update #2
From Bryan Krampovitis, NATCA New England ARVP
In just three days, NATCA New England will be hosting our first post-COVID Spring Fling! For years, Spring Fling in New England has been a chance for members from across the region to get together, have some fun, and put faces to the voices we hear on the landlines.
Spring Fling is also your opportunity to meet and speak with leaders in your region, including some of your national leadership, such as Rich Santa, NATCA President, who will be in attendance. This is your chance to ask questions and provide feedback, both positive and negative, to your NATCA leadership. It is also an opportunity to speak with delegates to our national convention, which will be held in a few weeks. If there is an amendment to the constitution that you strongly support or oppose, Spring Fling is the perfect opportunity to speak with members who will be on the floor of the convention speaking on these issues in the near future.
Spring Fling will take place on Thursday, May 18th from 2 PM to 5 PM. Your family, including children, are welcome to attend. The weather is forecast to be sunny and warm, and the outdoor area of the venue should be great. The event will be held at The Biergarten, located at 221 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, NH. While we encourage you to RSVP (you can do so by clicking here), it is not necessary. If you’re unsure if you can make it, but your schedule allows you to attend on the day of the event, don’t worry if you didn’t sign up – just come on by!
I look forward to seeing everyone on Thursday and meeting some new members from the region. With the success of this event, we can continue to host it in the future and bring it back to the level Spring Fling was prior to COVID restrictions. See everyone on Thursday!
From Curt Fischer, Collaboration Facilitator, Eastern Service Area North, A90
I hope you enjoyed Mother’s Day this past weekend. As I started writing this update, in my busy home, I watched my wife navigate through various family challenges as only a Mom knows how. Leadership in our buildings benefit from many of those same skills. Our goal of applying collaborative skills in our facilities is to improve facility morale, to enjoy our time at work, to get better results from our decisions, and to improve the overall health and safety of the NAS. Just like for Mom, it takes continuous hard work and time to maintain a level of success. In Collaborative skills training, we teach the need for time, commitment, courage, and trust. It is often when don’t put in the time, fail to listen, communicate poorly, erode trust, or act in a command and control posture that we fail to get the desired results.
This past week during our quarterly collaboration facilitator meeting we got to hear from Chicago Center FacRep Toby Hauck and Chicago TRACON FacRep Dean Von Almen, who along with their collaborative counterparts were able to turn their buildings around with positive results and it is not just them saying it. We interviewed over 70 controllers at ZAU and across the board they told us their facility is moving in the right direction by employing collaborative skills.
In New England, we need to continue to work on our collaboration skills. Whether that is simply being able to find time to meet with our Agency counterpart or writing down our collaboratively agreed-to decisions together, communicate them jointly and have the integrity to stand behind them even while getting pushback (guidance) from outside parties that have no awareness to the specific situation in our facilities. Done correctly (interest-based) both sides can experience a win creating the positive energy to get over the next hurdle successfully, just like Mom.
Labor Management Relations
From Nick Marangos, NATCA New England LR Lead, A90
Pre-Arbitration Review is a quarterly event where NATCA and the Agency sit down and present outstanding grievances to a neutral party. This is an informal process by which each side can hear the opinion of the neutral on which side would prevail in the event the case was brought to arbitration.
After a weather delay in March, Q1 Pre-Arbitration occurred on Tuesday, May 9th. Bryan Krampovitis (NNE ARVP), Carrie Cassano (NNE LR Coordinator), and I brought 7 cases in front of a neutral arbiter. The results of these cases are as follows:
- 5 cases withdrawn by the Union
- 2 cases sustained by the Agency with partial remedies.
4 of the withdrawn cases were due to untimeliness on the part of the Union. The software the Union uses for grievance authoring and tracking suffered a premature failure. Because of this failure, grievances elevated to PAR by their respective Facility Representatives did not auto-notify me or the LR coordinator. This lack of notification caused us to miss the timelines to elevate appropriately. I am confident that had we been able to argue the merits of the cases, the Union would have prevailed. Moving forward we have changed the process in which Facility Representatives notify the LR team of a PAR elevation to ensure we meet timelines.
The 5th withdrawal was due to both negative feedback received by the neutral on the viability of the Union’s case as well as an opportunity to close out remaining grievances at PAR. In my opinion, this grievance would not have been successful at arbitration.
The 2 sustainments came after the neutral agreed with the Union’s position in each case. The Agency, after further discussion, agreed with the opinion and remedies.
NATCA in Washington Recap
From Nick Monahan, NATCA New England Alternate Legislative Chair, BED
Day one started with Secretary of Transportation Buttigieg addressing the attendees, and he didn’t disappoint. He spoke about the importance of properly funding the FAA through the upcoming reauthorization, which expires September 30, 2023. The modernization of the FAA’s computer systems and infrastructure are key goals of the current administration. He also spoke about his experiences flying, and how the controllers working the traffic give him the confidence to travel with his family, despite the inherent risks to air travel. Secretary Buttigieg explained how impressive the national airspace system is in scope and complexity, and that despite the challenges of funding and staffing, controllers continue to work to make the system one of the safest in the world.
After Secretary Buttigieg spoke, Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois talked about her experience serving in the military, and becoming one of the first women in the army to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her story of being shot down while flying a mission in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, and losing both legs, was inspirational to say the least. She went on to become an advocate for Wounded Warriors and serve two terms in Congress before becoming a Senator. Senator Duckworth serves on several committees, including the U.S. Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Her position on this committee is important because Senator Duckworth will oversee, propose, and be a part of any legislation related to air traffic. This, along with her experience as a pilot, makes her a strong and willing ally of controllers and our issues. She went on to discuss the importance of controller staffing, which provided a seamless transition into the conference and the week ahead.
Day 2 began with Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, who has been a strong advocate for controllers and NATCA. Senator Warner recently introduced legislation, along with Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, to support the research and development of UAS technologies. Senator Warner is also a supporter of FAA Reauthorization, knowing that controllers need the proper staffing to continue to do our jobs effectively.
In addition to the great speakers at the conference, attendees were trained on the legislative process, and how it relates to air traffic. With that comes the Ask. To put it simply, NATCA is asking that the CRWG numbers, collaboratively agreed upon, be a part of FAA reauthorization. That is it. No money, nothing complex. Just that the accurate staffing numbers be reported to Congress through the CWP. Not only is it not complicated, but it is popular, and it doesn’t need to be sold or explained. We saw firsthand, in meetings with members of Congress and their staff, that this is something everyone wants to get behind. Well, almost everyone. President Rich Santa, the NEB, and NATCA leadership have been working on the issue of staffing non-stop, and because of NiW, and continuous efforts of our members, we are now able to communicate this with one voice. After being a part of NATCA in Washington, I’m excited for next year and hopeful for our future.
Thank you to our New England leadership team, the NLC, and all involved!
Elaina McCutcheon, BED, First Time NiW Attendee
As a first-time attendee of NATCA in Washington my main concern was the potential of the event being a snooze fest. There was a lot at stake here–using my own leave and RDOs, dressing in anything other than my usual hoodies, and having to present myself and speak in a more professional manner.
Fortunately, snooze fest it was not! The first day was a day of training, and it left me well-informed and prepared for the upcoming meetings. The next couple of days were a lot of fun and we actually got to put the information given to good use. I found it very satisfying to advocate for NATCA and the career field as a whole. And of course, sprinkled throughout the week were multiple events with other controllers from all over the country with plenty of food, good times, and great company. Lots of fun! I left NATCA in Washington hopeful for change. 10/10 would recommend!
Natalie Howes, BED, First Time NiW Attendee
Insufficient funding, shortage of controller hiring/training, and a deficiency in equipment modernization are all major issues air traffic controllers within the Federal Aviation Administration face on a daily basis. These important issues can only be addressed and resolved by our union speaking up at our yearly NATCA in Washington event. I was fortunate enough to be one of those representing members this year. We took a stand at our nation’s Capitol and explained how improving the hiring process, training requirements, funding, and equipment would benefit the FAA immensely. As air traffic controllers, our goal is to maintain a safe, efficient, and orderly flow of traffic. Unfortunately, this becomes harder to achieve when our work environment is understaffed and not up to date with important equipment. It was amazing meeting everyone who came to support our cause, and an honor to gain so much knowledge from every guest speaker. I hope to use my experience and knowledge to play a bigger role and help make a change at next year’s event.
Do you work with someone who inspires you, motivates others, and demonstrates professionalism day-in and day-out? Don’t let that individual go through their entire career without getting recognized. Nominate them for the 2023 NATCA National Professionalism Award!
Award recipients will be selected from each service area and will receive a trip to Communicating for Safety to be recognized for their professionalism. Anyone may nominate a member in good standing for the award. There is no limit to the amount of nominations for one individual (we recommend you encourage additional nominations from peers, management, pilots, etc. submitting their own statements, stories and examples in support of the individual). In order to nominate you will be asked to provide a brief work history on the individual, as well as provide examples and statements showing how the individual inspires, motivates, and demonstrates professionalism in the workplace.
The deadline for nominations is June 1, 2023.
Nominate your peers at www.natca.org/professionalismaward.
Questions? Email email@example.com
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Region X Member Spotlight
NATCA New England is highlighting NATCA Region X members who live and work within New England. Learn more about who your local Region X brothers and sisters are and what they do.
Jason Holland – Lead Electronics Engineer – New England Navaids Engineering
“I’ve been in the Engineering Services Navigational Aids part of the FAA for my entire career. I started out in the Construction/Installation group doing the hands-on electronic work for PAPI, REIL, MALSR, ALSF, LOC, GS, DME, and VOR systems. If you’ve ever had some engineer in the tower at 2 AM swearing under the console trying to make the ALSF turn on that may have been me. After ten years of field work I switched over to the Navaids Engineering side. I still work with the same systems, but now my role is to design installation packages and to figure out how to integrate new equipment with existing equipment. I also participate in some of the collaborative work groups that are trying to make our work processes more efficient and our designs more standardized.
My desk is at the New England Regional Office in Burlington, MA. I also spend quite a bit of time at our 11 Murphy Drive office in Nashua, NH. I still get out in the field for site visits and an occasional installation project. Some of the airports I’ve worked at in New England include BOS, PWM, PVD, BDL, BED, BGR, and ORH. I’ve also worked at IAD, BWI, MCO, and other locations throughout the Eastern Service Area (ANE, AEA, and ASO).
My engineering work with visual aids and navigational aids affects your work day if you’re a tower controller. Our projects frequently require us to drive to our equipment sites around the airfield. You folks on ground control are normally very patient with us when we’re moving around a new airfield the first few times. Thanks!
When we’re installing a new piece of equipment we need a period of time to take the old equipment out of service and test the new equipment. Losing an approach light system or an ILS may decrease minimums and lower the ILS approach category. The other side of that is when a new system gives you a CAT I, CAT II, or CAT III ILS approach that you did not have before, allowing you to get more aircraft to their original destination safely. We’ve also been working on new and upgraded DMEs to support the NextGen DME program that is improving our DME coverage so that it can be the backup to performance-based navigation.
I love being a part of our union. I’m the Region X representative on the National Legislative Committee, the local president for ENE, and a former state legislative coordinator for Massachusetts. I’ve met a bunch of you at different national events, and I look forward to meeting more of you at NATCA in Washington in May or our National Convention in June.”