August 2023 New England Bi-Monthly Regional Update #2
From Bryan Krampovitis, NATCA New England ARVP
I am pleased to announce that NATCA and the FAA have finally agreed on a solution to the housing affordability issue ACK members have been struggling with for years. On Tuesday, August 8, NATCA and the FAA signed the Nantucket Affordability MOU, and BUEs on Nantucket will see their first payment within 30 days. Before I go into the details of the agreement, I want to back up and explain how we got here.
In 2021, after instructing all the new trainees not to report to ACK due to COVID, the Agency recalled three controllers to work. These controllers were told to report to ACK ASAP to start their training. However, it happened to be right before the summer rental season, and there was no lodging available for them anywhere on the island. This brought extremely difficult housing issues, such as price and availability, into the spotlight for the FAA. Through the efforts of our RVP, Mick Devine, Rich Santa, and upper NATCA Leadership, the Agency agreed to form a workgroup to propose options to address the housing issues. This workgroup was established at the beginning of 2022 and included Trevor Wheelock Nantucket FacRep, Mike DeFalco from Boston Tower, and myself as the lead for the union.
This workgroup met weekly for the better part of a year to explore all options to solve the problem. This included looking into commuting options so controllers wouldn’t have to live on the island, establishing government housing or reestablishing Coast Guard housing on the island, TDY options, and developing a subsidy to allow all employees, both Academy Grads and CPCs, to afford what was considered “suitable housing”.
After extensive research and careful consideration of all options, the only realistically fast solution to the problem was increasing pay to make more affordable housing options available to the workforce. From that point onward, the team worked on determining the required pay increase to achieve this goal. We had to define what “suitable housing” actually meant. Once that was established, we had to determine how much suitable housing costs on Nantucket. One resource we looked into, the US Census, indicated the average rent on Nantucket to be $1500 per month, which we knew was laughable. We established that a rent amount between $2500 and $3500 per month was a reasonable expectation on the island for “suitable housing.”
Next, the team had to determine how much of a person’s income should be allocated toward rent. We determined that the national standard is around 30% of one’s gross pay. This allowed us to develop a formula to calculate how much money would be needed to afford “suitable housing” at each pay level for employees assigned to ACK. To simplify the explanation of the formula, if “suitable rent” was determined to be $2500 per month, this would mean an annual amount of $30,000. Therefore, your gross pay would need to be $100,000 per year for your rent to be below the 30% threshold.
The last thing the team needed to determine was how to make the formula adjust over time to account for rent inflation and controller pay fluctuations. We wanted a solution that could accommodate facility-level increases or decreases, controller pay bands increasing due to January raises, contract negotiations changing pay bands, and locality adjustments.
In November of 2022, the workgroup submitted their recommendations and presented them to NATCA and FAA leadership.
Following the workgroup presentation, NATCA and the FAA entered traditional negotiations to create an agreement. NATCA and the FAA agreed to start “suitable rent” at $3000. This amount will be adjusted every year based on a memo released by the Department of the Interior in March. This memo provides guidance to all government agencies on how much to adjust the rent for government-provided housing for employees nationwide. For 2022, this memo increased rent by 2.6%. In 2023, the increase was 7.4%, meaning if this agreement was already in place this year suitable rent would have increased to $3222. We expect next year’s memo to be a similarly high increase.
The financial benefit directly to our membership on Nantucket is significant, as shown in the graphics attached below in this update.
From Curt Fischer, Collaboration Facilitator, Eastern Service Area North, A90
Awareness is a crucial first step in ensuring collaboration is happening. This month I would like to ask you to reflect on your awareness to collaboration in your workplace. Just as NATCA New England’s LR mantra is to “Know your Rights”, Eastern Service Area North Collaboration Facilitators encourage you to “Know Collaboration”.
Of course, knowing your rights is important, but when it comes to getting things done collaboration is the expectation. Collaboration is how we, NATCA and the ATO, lay the foundation for the development and implementation of processes, procedures, and technologies. Thru collaboration we modernize the NAS, enhance the work life of employees, and carry out our mission of providing the safest, most efficient aerospace system. It is how we engage in meaningful dialogue and make a genuine effort to ensure both parties’ interests have been identified and as many as possible have been addressed before an outcome has been determined. In short, approaching issues collaboratively has a proven track record of success in our organization.
Time and again when your Collaboration Facilitators measure the awareness of collaboration in facilities we discover that awareness often could be improved. Working in an interested manner needs to be learned correctly and practiced. Collaboration takes time, commitment, courage, and trust. Oftentimes when pressed for time or commitment is lacking or trust is lost we fall back to a positional posture. We stop listening and end conversations with statements such as “management rights”. Simply having the awareness that there is an entire Collaboration Team of 14 trained Facilitators working across the country can help. We are only a phone call, text, or email away and can assist in placing facilities back on a collaborative track for success.
From Caitlyn Valeri, NATCA New England Election Support Rep, ZBW
Happy End of Summer! Hopefully, that means overtime is slowing down for a lot of the facilities in the region. The ESC has been working on templates for local elections. Templates such as Nomination Forms, Acceptance Forms, and even Ballots. We want to make the local elections as easy as possible so that it doesn’t add too much extra work on to our regional members. There have been new questions posed that I would like to share:
1. Can a candidate have a meet and greet at the facility and provide food, campaign materials, etc? And if so, do both candidates have to do it on the same date and time?
Yes! A Candidate can hold a meet and greet! They cannot use any Union money or space. No, the Candidates do not have to have it on the same day, and if one candidate doesn’t want to hold a meet and greet they don’t have to.
2. Can a candidate campaign in the facility on off-duty time or RDOs?
3. If a candidate requests an in-person candidate forum, do both candidates need to agree to it? Can it be held in the facility/members’ building?
Yes, both Candidates need to agree to the forum.
Yes, it can be held on the property, IF the facility can accommodate it.
If you have further questions about how local elections are run please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Matt Murray, NATCA New England OSHA Rep, ZBW
A few times a year the health and safety division of the FAA puts out a “Safety Emergency Notice” (SEN) warning employees of a potential hazard in the workplace and the immediate plan to address the issue.
This week, the Agency issued SEN-23-04. This SEN advises of a “potential shock hazard associated with legacy Position Display Maps (PDMs)” that are mainly located in our TRACONs. The Agency “identified five (5) static/electrical shock incidents caused by users coming in contact with exposed or faulty wiring when changing out display information maps.” Before changing the maps on these PDMs the unit should be de-energized by a Tech-Ops specialist either by unplugging the unit or turning off the breaker. At that time the specialist should inspect and repair any loose or damaged wiring prior to turning the unit back on.
I have alerted the FacReps in New England of this, and they should be addressing this with their management counterparts. Still, I wanted to make sure that all of you are aware of the issue as well to ensure you do not accidentally get shocked before it gets repaired. Until the inspections and repairs have been completed on these PDMs I would advise you not to touch them at all.
From Jake Detwiler, NATCA New England NCEPT Rep, ZBW
Hi New England. The third NCEPT Panel of the year meets next Monday, August 21. The rules for this panel remain the same as May, facilities must be at or above 85% On Board (CPCs as a % of CPC Target) and at or above 85% Projected to Target (this takes into account current CPCs, plus anticipated losses and gains). Selecting facilities must be below 100% Projected to Target, and will make one selection at a time, in the order of the decision lens.
Given the current staffing situation, Possible Losses (facilities that are able to release based on the 85%/85% threshold) are significantly lower than we’d gotten used to seeing in years past. For example, there are 118 possible losses for this current panel, a year ago in August 2022 the NAS had 263 possible losses. Since ERRs are an employee request, the desire for movement can vary. For next week’s panel, there are 19 facilities that are able to release but don’t have any BUEs with ERRs filed.
The Priority Placement tool is available on the NATCA website and is your resource for the current staffing situation of the entire NAS. We also publish an ERR demand sheet that shows inbound and outbound ERR demand, this allows members a better picture of where people might be trying to go.
As always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions at email@example.com.
August 21, 2023 NCEPT Temporary Modifications, Round 1
- Releasing facility must be at or above 85% current % CPC to Target (column L of the PPT) and at or above 85% Projected % to Target *(column AA of the PPT).
- Releases stop when the facility drops below 85% Current or 85% Projected % to Target.
- Gaining facility must be below 100% Projected to target.
- Facilities will make one selection at a time; the selection order will be based on the most recent Decision Lens Agreement (DLA). Once every facility eligible to gain has made one selection (if available), this process will repeat, beginning at the first facility on the DLA until all possible selections have been made. Facilities will no longer make selections once they reach 100% Projected to Target.
Announcements and Information
Registration for Communicating for Safety (held in Las Vegas at Horseshoe Hotel and Casino, September 18-20, 2023) is still open and deadlines are quickly approaching!
Tomorrow, August 16th, the hotel block closes and on Friday, August 18th, the price for registration and Archie League Banquet tickets increase.
If you plan to go to CFS, register for and buy banquet tickets at https://www.natca.org/events/cfs/.
A well-educated Union is a strong Union! This fall, the NATCA Academy will be holding a variety of courses that can help you find your passion in our Union. To learn more about available classes and how to enroll, visit www.natca.org/academy.
Upcoming courses include:
- Federal Contract Tower Training (FCT)
- Occupational Safety and Health Training (OSHA) / Office of Workers Compensation (OWCP)
- Legislative Activism Training (LAT)
- Representative Training 1 (RT-1)
- Safety Advocacy Training (SAT)
- Drug and Alcohol Training (DAC)
- Advanced Legislative Activism Training (ALAT), Held in Washington, D.C. – Oct. 4-6
Our region has a robust team of leaders that do tremendous work for our members behind the scenes. Each of them has expertise in the area of work they do for NATCA.
In our new “Meet Your Leaders” social media series, we will hear from each of these leaders as they explain what they do for the union and how it benefits all of our members.
NATCA continues to work with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and members of Congress to make sure that the United States is hiring and training enough controllers to ensure that our National Airspace System remains the safest and most efficient in the world.
We all know that U.S. air traffic controllers are stretched thin, with many working six-day weeks and mandatory overtime, for months on end and with no end in sight. These schedules affect our quality of life and our physical and mental health – and must be addressed.
People understand that working such hours every week is a lot, but explaining the real long-term consequences will help personalize the issue for our advocacy efforts. So that we can better communicate how the six-day weeks and mandatory overtime is affecting NATCA’s members, please fill out the following web form and tell us how you and your family are being affected. We will share some of these stories in our communications, while meeting with members of Congress, and in media outreach.