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July 2023 New England Bi-Monthly Regional Update #1

From Mick Devine, NATCA New England Regional Vice President

DevineMick 59895 8344 min

As traffic has considerably picked up this month and we are officially in New England’s ATC busy season. June was also very busy for our Reps and it concluded with our Biennial Convention in Ft. Lauderdale. It was a great event and your New England Reps once again presented themselves as engaged, educated, and passionate, and came ready to produce for the membership.

From BOS FacRep Matt Morgan receiving a standing ovation for getting his constitutional amendment passed about serious changes and engagement for mental health to NNE ARVP Scott Robillard winning The Dale Wright Award– NATCA’s highest lifetime achievement award, NATCA New England was punching well above its weight class once again. It is always an honor to introduce this region and the tremendous work you all do.

Questions have been asked about the Tuesday of Convention and rumors of a “Beach Day” for the New England Reps. 

Over the course of this term, regarding spending, the National Executive Board (NEB) has split into two groups. One group was trying to reduce the length of Convention to reduce the cost, while the other group was trying to retain its original length of 3 days. NATCA New England was on the side of reducing the length to reduce the cost and spending. However, we did not have enough votes to accomplish our objection.

The cost of the three-day/four-night convention, including all dinners and activities, totaled around $2.7 million.

The reason I was in favor of reducing the length is that the projected time needed, based on the amendments and resolutions submitted by the membership, was less than two days. I saw the agenda as an opportunity to shorten the convention and reduce National Office spending.

Without the votes on the board to reduce the convention length, the board decided to transition the first day of Convention to a Regional Day. Since all Convention prep work had been accomplished by your facility representatives at our Pre-Convention meeting in Pittsburgh, NATCA New England made the decision to have a solidarity event. Some of your key NATCA Leadership used the solidarity day as their travel day because they did not see the value in an extra night of hotel charges and time away from their family.

As we move forward, I will continue to push for financial savings. One day less of Convention would yield enough savings to fund most of the next Activism and Training Expo (ATX).

This past week, I was at Atlanta Center for Abacus testing. Abacus is the program that will accurately count Center traffic. Once certified for deployment, the FAA and NATCA will enter negotiations over the Complexity Index breakpoints that determine facility pay. These negotiations will be long, detailed, and extremely important to our membership. It is my position as the NATCA New England Regional Vice President that we must have financial means to be successful in these negotiations. In my opinion, Convention spending is one part of that equation.

NATCA New England Region’s Income Statement as of May 31, 2023.

From Scott Robillard, NATCA New England ARVP

Hello NATCA New England. This month everyone is probably expecting the readout from the FOIA on bonus money paid in the Boston District but we have put that announcement on hold and will instead address NATCA’s convention which was last week.

After weeks of working on data obtained by the FOIA, we are sad to report that we were not able to ascertain what made up the bonus totals. What we were looking for was bonuses paid for performance. However, the totals given could be anything. For example, a bonus due to the employee that is either at the top of a pay band or at the federal pay cap, or dollars paid as a sick leave buy back during retirement.

We don’t want to do is give you false or incorrect data. What we have done is submit a follow-up FOIA that has the dollar amounts broken down by category. Once we obtain the newly requested information we will publish it to the membership.

Instead, let’s go over NATCA’s Convention.

The purpose of the NATCA semi-annual Convention is to provide direction to the Union’s elected leaders. My first convention was in 2008 in Miami, and except for Philadelphia in 2018, I have attended every one since.

It was in Miami, during the height of the Imposed Work Rules, that the convention body elected to strip seniority rights from Bargaining Unit Employees who choose to leave for Operational Supervisor positions, only to return to the bargaining unit. I am proud of the convention body for doing the same to employees who desire to play by a different set of rules for themselves and undermined the age 56 retirement by working on age waivers.

Every Air Traffic Controller NATCA knows why age 56 is so important. Allowing a small number of self-serving controllers to threaten your future and your ability to retire after 25 years at any age, or 20 years between 50 and 56, should not be rewarded with also allowing them to keep Friday/Saturday days off and bidding first for annual leave.

I celebrate the many successes of our NATCA New England delegates as well as the entire convention body. In addition, I am most humbly grateful for the honor awarded me as recipient of NATCA’s Dale Wright Award for distinguished, professional, and exceptional career service. I wish to share this great honor with all my brothers and sisters in New England.

Question of the month: Is the amount of Sick Leave an employee earns negotiable?

Talk to you next month.

Convention 1st-Time Attendees’ Thoughts

We asked a few members from New England who were first-time attendees of a NATCA convention to write a little bit about their experiences. Here’s what they had to say:

I had a really good time at my first convention. I knew it would be great to see a lot of my NATCA family, but had no idea what to expect from the business portion. I thought the debate was powerful and you get to hear everyone that wants to share their opinions. When we had to do a standing vote for a close call, it started out being a little exciting, but then got a little scary when we went to a counted standing vote. The next step, I was told, would have been a long process to get individual verbal votes, known as a roll call vote. I feel this was another fantastic NATCA event and very important in a different way from NATCA in Washington or Communicating For Safety. I would love to attend the next convention but I’m torn, I also want more of our members to experience it, too.

-Scott Weaver, BGR

As a first-time convention attendee, my experience could not have been more satisfying. The convention was impressive in both its scope and size. I had heard the stories of spirited debates in the past and this convention was no exception. I enjoyed watching members from every region come together and make improvements to our constitution to benefit us as a whole. The use of Robert’s Rules of Order on such a large scale was a sight to behold. It was fun to meet my brothers and sisters from all over the country. We forged many great experiences and I am looking forward to the great things that will happen at future conventions.

-Andrew Breen, BDL

I wanted to take a moment to express my sincere gratitude for the opportunity to attend the convention. It was truly an enriching experience, and I believe that everyone should have the chance to be a part of such an event.

In case you didn’t have the chance to watch any of the proceedings, I’d like to bring your attention to several noteworthy amendments that were passed, particularly those related to grammar and language. Although seemingly insignificant, changing pronouns from “he/she” to “they” brings respect and inclusivity to gender-neutral individuals, ensuring their participation in the conversation. As one member addressed the Chair, inclusive language not only promotes equality but also enhances the readability of documents.

On the second day of the convention, an important resolution was proposed. It was authored by Matt Morgan of Boston Tower and is labeled R23-25. I highly recommend watching or listening to his speech on this matter, should the union make a sound clip available. (It should be available online in the next few weeks.) His courage in addressing the Chair with his message was truly commendable, as he spoke not only on his behalf but also on behalf of many others who are suffering in silence.

The resolution, as written and passed, states the following:

“Within 180 days of the closing of the 2023 NATCA Convention, NATCA shall propose a collaborative workgroup (CWG) with the FAA to review and reform mental health and medical thresholds applied to Aviation Medicals granted to air traffic control specialists. This CWG should include, but not be limited to, members from NATCA, the FAA, and FAA Medical/Flight Surgeons’ offices. The intent and scope of the workgroup shall include developing collaborative processes for employees to utilize their own private health care to receive mental wellness and mental health treatment.”

Even if nothing else, the convention was immensely valuable due to the passage of this resolution alone. However, it’s important to recognize that there is still significant work ahead to transform this resolution into a reality. It serves as a crucial first step toward addressing the lack of mental health care in our profession. We cannot allow the fear of job security to deter us from seeking the help we need during times of distress.

Lastly, I would like to thank the individuals at ZBW who voted for me and gave me a chance to attend the convention as an alternate. It means a great deal to me that you placed your faith in me to potentially represent your interests at our national gathering.

– Tom Rudmin, ZBW

NATCA Dale Wright Award

At NATCA’s 19th Biennial Convention, our Alternate Regional Vice President Scott Robillard (A90) was presented the Dale Wright Award!

The Dale Wright award was created in 2012 to honor individuals who have shown a lifetime achievement and extraordinary leadership to NATCA. This award, given yearly in Dale’s honor, is one of the highest bestowed upon a member. It is for an individual who has gone above and beyond in their service and has become a staple in NATCA. It is for a leader who has shown a love of this Union and dedication to this profession.

NATCA has benefited immensely from Scott’s passion, high energy, and engaging personality style as every team or project on which he served was better because of his participation. He is a persistent communicator and relentless negotiator often referred to as a bulldog. Everyone on both sides knows this leader and wants him to sit on their side of the table.

Scott effectively led A90 for 11 straight terms as FacRep, moved to teach Workforce Engagement, and then led the Terminal Automation Redesign deployment team for over a decade.

He grew to become our region’s ARVP with a keen understanding of strategy and tactics, labor relations, and developing successful teams. As Article 76 Co-lead, his work has had a positive effect on so many buildings across the NAS. 

Scott is the ultimate builder of armies with a keen eye for building balanced teams where players feed off each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Congratulations, Scott! 

NATCA Reloaded

From Jennifer Dickinson, NATCA Reloaded Rep, BOS

The Reloaded Committee continues to offer fantastic classes that inspire unity and positivity and assist with professional and personal growth. Do you have a Regional meeting coming up? Are you a FacRep who wants to educate the members on NATCA’s history? Are you interested in learning how to be a better communicator or getting more involved? Then a Reloaded class is for you!

Reloaded is dedicated to education and ensuring that the members leave a class feeling inspired and more knowledgeable about the opportunities available to them. A great virtual class to check out is NATCA 101. Taught on the 15th of every month and signed up via the NATCA portal, this class is beneficial for everyone. This month’s class will be taught on July 15th at 3:00pm. Come check us out, and as always, please reach out anytime if you have questions! 

UNUM Open Season

Open Season has begun for NATCA’s popular Unum group long-term disability (LTD) program. The Unum LTD program protects NATCA members and their families with peace of mind.

If you lose your medical or become disabled for any reason, this plan activates and will pay you 50% of what you were grossing at the time of claim, up to a maximum of $5,000 per month (tax-free). This plan will then pay you that amount for up to five years. If you apply for coverage during open season, you cannot be turned down, and there are no health questions to answer.

LTD insurance can be the most important part of your overall benefits package, and NATCA offers members the opportunity to purchase it at affordable group rates. Covered members who have submitted claims through the program often describe the coverage they received as one of the greatest benefits of being a member of our Union.

During the 2023 open season, NATCA is offering a number of incentives for new enrollees and current plan participants. Click here to learn more about these incentives. The open season closes on September 30, 2023.

Members can enroll in UNUM LTD insurance today at natcadisability.com. If you have any questions, you can contact David Bowden of Southern Insurance Group, Inc. at [email protected] or 863-644-9944.

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