September 2023 New England Bi-Monthly Regional Update #2
From Bryan Krampovitis, NATCA New England ARVP
The National Executive Board is coming to New England!
Mark your calendars. From October 3rd to October 4th, the New England Region will be hosting a National Executive Board (NEB) meeting for the first time in over 6 years. The meeting will take place in Portland, ME.
The National Executive Board convenes 8-10 times a year in various cities across the country. During these meetings, our elected NEB members gather to discuss current issues affecting the union on a national level and manage the union in accordance with our national constitution.
In accordance with SRI-5 of our National Constitution, members have the right to address the NEB “on any topic to provide an opinion and/or solicit information.” This right extends to every member of our union and is precisely why NEB meetings are held in different cities across the country. Your NEB selects these locations to ensure accessibility for all members. Please take advantage of this opportunity if you have something you wish to bring to your NEB’s attention. The NEB meeting spans two days, allowing members the flexibility to participate around their regular day(s) off, afternoon shifts, or morning shifts. The NEB tries to provide a reasonable opportunity for members to address their NEB in person.
In addition to the formal opportunity to address the NEB during the meeting, you are invited to attend a meet and greet on Tuesday night. This offers a chance to engage with and get to know the various members of your NEB in a more relaxed and informal setting than the actual NEB meeting. You can speak with our National President Rich Santa, our Executive Vice President Andrew LeBovidge, as well as the ten RVPs who constitute the remainder of the NEB.
If you are interested in addressing the NEB, please follow the instructions outlined in SRI-5 of the constitution. The meeting will be held at Westin Portland Harborview, starting approximately at 8am and concluding around 6pm, depending on business and agenda items. The meet and greet will take place on Tuesday, October 3rd at Rí Rá Irish Pub & Restaurant (72 Commercial St, Portland, ME) at 6:30pm and I encourage anyone who can attend to take the time and come out. We look forward to meeting some new members of the New England region.
From Curt Fischer, Collaboration Facilitator, Eastern Service Area North, A90
In just a few short days, many New England members will be traveling to Las Vegas to attend the 2023 Communicating for Safety (CFS) Conference, which has become my favorite NATCA event. CFS was born out of a mission to create a platform that fosters open dialogue and an exchange of ideas surrounding aviation safety (core collaborative skills). Whether it is your first CFS or 24th CFS, much like Collaborative Skills Training (CST), there is always something to learn and take back to your facilities.
NATCA New England is committed to bringing back what we have learned so we can grow together as a Union. No less than 9 members will provide our Region with a recap of what their CFS experience was like.
Additionally, your entire NATCA CF team along with their Agency counterparts will be attending this year’s conference. Successful communication with an open dialogue is an essential component for safety and collaboration alike. Our safety programs require collaboration. From Local Safety Councils to ATSAP responses to SMS to SRT and ASI, just to name a few. They all rely on good collaborative skills to be successful. Please stop by our booth or talk to any of our collaboration facilitators (CFs). We are available to help ensure that your facilities function on a highly collaborative level so that safety can remain at the forefront of all that you do.
BGR Mid Closure Project
From Benji Coburn, BGR Facility Representative
Hello from Bangor, Maine! Earlier this spring when firm offer letters from the DOD started arriving at our facility, it became apparent that BGR ATCT was about to become critically staffed. At our lowest point, we were 54.5% staffed which made us the lowest staffed facility in the FAA. Thanks to a recent check out we are now at 59.1% staffed and are currently the 4th lowest staffed facility in the FAA.
In May I had a conversation with Kevin Coeyman the ZBW FACREP about our staffing situation and the possibility of us not being able to staff the building, let alone MID shifts. With 2 CPCs (representing just under 20% of our staffing) required for each MID shift, an argument was made that those controllers would be best served supplementing our day and Eve shifts to accommodate our summer traffic and train the multitude of trainees we have.
Like most of the region, all CPCs and SUPEs were (and still are) working 6-day work weeks, with multiple 10-hour days. We had partially qualified trainees working OT Mids while still in training status. We had multiple instances of 1 person Mids because there was no one available to work them. This resulted in at least one instance of a no-notice ATC Zero event. These are not ideal working conditions, to say the least. BGR is no different than controllers throughout the NAS, we have been forced to do more with less, but we make what we have work because that’s what we must do.
At the end of July, we were unable to create a schedule that would accommodate increased summer traffic, training, leave, or come anywhere close to our MOU numbers. I wrote a proposal with a partial mid-closure having BGR ATCT close between 0100L and 0500L. ZBW would assume our airspace and Bangor International Airport would become an uncontrolled airport. I sent the proposal to ARVP Bryan Krampovitis to get his input and see if this was even possible. Bryan started working with the district, and I sent my proposal to Kevin Coeyman at ZBW.
Discussions between BGR, ZBW, and NATCA NNE leadership began in early August. A little over 2 weeks later, BGR successfully closed on the Mid. This would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of many of our brothers and sisters in the region. On behalf of the controllers at BGR, I would like to thank the following people:
- Bryan Krampovitis NNE ARVP, for working with the agency to get this approved.
- Kevin Coeyman ZBW FacRep, for getting the ball rolling in May when I expressed my concerns.
- Josh Boyd and Jake Detwiler who filled in for Kevin while he was on leave.
- NNE Safety Rep Seth Myers, Area D NATCA Rep Laura Renaud, and Area D Training Rep Thomas Rudmin, for creating, and implementing the training and procedures for the Area D controllers who would be assuming our airspace. I can not begin to imagine the work that was put into this, but the speed at which this was implemented was nothing short of amazing.
- Nicholas Marangos, A90 FacRep, and the A90 controllers, for agreeing to take Cape approach airspace back on the Mids to alleviate some of the pressure on Area D.
Finally, a huge thank you to the Area D controllers. We know that you guys have your own staffing and OT issues, and yet you still stepped up for us in a big, big way. Thanks!
From Kevin Coeyman, ZBW Facility Representative
A tale of two Organizations… In early May of this year, the NATCA BGR Facility Representative, Ben Coburn reached out to me. Ben was concerned that due to the critical level of staffing at BGR, one of the worst staffed facilities in all of the NAS, they would not be able to staff their midnight shifts in the near future. Ben and I discussed the many problems, challenges, and obstacles this could present for ZBW. I went to the Agency at ZBW and you my NATCA ZBW Area D Representative, Laura Renaud, to alert them to this potential issue and that we needed to work together to find a way to make this work, if it did happen. The Agency did nothing to prepare for this event.
NATCA on the other hand, sprang into action.
Laura, along with our NATCA ZBW Safety Rep, Seth Myers, started working on a document that was created some time ago, in case they would have to take over BGR tower and approach airspace, something that they have never done. From maps, to frequency coverage, conflicting approach information, line lands, airports, the training that would be needed, and dozens of other items. Along with input from Ben, they began to put a complete, well-thought-out plan together should it be needed.
Fast forward several months, Ben calls me and says that it is looking imminent that BGR will need to close on the midnight shifts. The Agency’s first thought at ZBW, “NATCA can you work this work out?” Seriously? They failed at their jobs again and NATCA sprang into action to not only protect our members but protect the safety of the NAS as well.
Laura, Seth, and the NATCA ZBW Area D Training Rep, Tom Rudmin, worked to implement the plan that was started many months ago. Holding the Agency accountable by ensuring all the needed information, coordination, staffing, and training occurred prior to BGR closing on the mid. The Agency believed this could be done right away, without utilizing the plan that NATCA put together. NATCA held the line and would not let this operation occur without fully ensuring the plan NATCA developed was implemented.
Laura Renaud, Seth Myers, and Tom Rudmin, went above and beyond in the service to our members to minimize potential harm to our members and to the NAS and they, along with BGR FacRep Ben Coburn, deserved to be recognized for their efforts. The communication between our facilities was key to ensuring our plan was completed and we had all the needed information to ensure success. The ZBW Area D controllers also deserve praise for their work during this process. ZBW has worked BGR airspace on the midnight shift for over a month now and will continue to do so until October.
This a great example of the teamwork and dedication NATCA has to our members and the NAS, always working together.
I am honored to represent such outstanding members. Work like this is just one of the many examples of what makes NATCA New England so respected.
From Jamie Green, NATCA New England Legislative Chair, PVD
On September 30, 2023, funding will expire for the government if Congress does not pass a bill. Currently, appropriations are in a “hurry up and wait” season, unfortunately. With only 9 working days for Congress to reach a deal, we are waiting to see if there is a Continuing Resolution (CR) and if so, how long will it be. It appears unlikely at this point that an agreement will be reached on a total funding bill and a CR will be the alternative. Some House Republicans are pressuring to make spending cap numbers lower than what was agreed to in debt ceiling negotiations. This would be a non-starter for House Democrats. On top of this, there are very few House Republicans that won’t even support a CR without specific demands. With all of that being said, in the event of a government shutdown, thanks to the Government Fair Treatment Act of 2019, federal employees are guaranteed back pay and leave they should have accrued, once the government is reopened.
In July, FAA Reauthorization was passed in the House with overwhelming support however, it is still stalled in the Senate. The Senate has yet to complete a markup due to disagreements over pilot flying hours and the DC perimeter rule. Senator Braun (IN) is looking to introduce the stand-alone bill for max hiring for the duration of FAA Reauthorization this week. The ultimate goal is to get this language into the FAA Reauthorization bill and this is a good way to highlight the issue.
I realize there are a lot of uncertainties at this time and I will keep you all updated as I receive news. Please feel free to reach out with your questions to me at Jgreen@natca.net.
From Jennifer Dickinson, NATCA CISM Rep, BOS
It is hard to believe that the summer months are already behind us and that the holidays are only a few months away. As we approach another busy season one of the most challenging, but necessary things to work towards is balance. Balance looks different to everyone, however, the goal is that you will feel that the priorities in your life are being managed in a way that feels like you are thriving.
How do we establish a life balance when many of us are working 6-day work weeks, managing higher stress levels, and still needing to meet the demands of our personal responsibilities? Often a good place to start is just focusing on today. First, it may be helpful to make a list of the things that are most important to you. From there focus on well-being and then identify what restores you and what depletes you, accept what you can control, be okay with saying no when you can, establish healthy behaviors that help manage your energy, identify mindsets that can limit performance, and surround yourself with positive people who are supportive.
Creating balance is not about cramming as much as you can into your day, week, or year. It is about identifying what is important to you and cultivating a life that allows you to live to your fullest potential. Often it is the little tweaks that we make in our lives that create the most positive change. We are all works in progress and through a desire to grow our health, relationships, and overall life will feel more peaceful and less unsteady.
Balance comes in the moments when you stand up for the life you truly want for yourself, by making choices that align with that. -Unknown
From Jake Detwiler, NATCA New England NCEPT Rep, ZBW
Hi NATCA New England. The fourth NCEPT panel of the year is coming up in November. See the timeline attached for the dates of when to submit your ERRs by, and when the Staffing Workbook freezes for each facility (this determines whether your facility is above the 85% On-Board and 85% Projected thresholds to be eligible to release).
In our recent August panel, we selected 85 BUEs. Congratulations to those of you in the New England Region who got selected! Obviously, the staffing challenges we face are having a direct impact on the ability to ERR through the NAS, however, we are starting to see an upward trend in staffing at many of our facilities.
Recently I explained the process of how we run through an ERR panel. What about how to get on a list, and when should you file an ERR? Often I hear folks say they don’t want to file an ERR because “my facility can’t release!” The advice I give everyone is to file an ERR when you want to go somewhere. Staffing changes monthly, and you never know when your facility might be eligible to release, you want to have that ERR on file so you are considered at the soonest possible panel. Additionally, the NCEPT Reps often review the overall ERR data out there, the more accurate of an ERR picture we have (who wants to leave what facility, and where they want to go) the better we understand the movement desires of the NAS. If you want to go somewhere, file that ERR, and if you decide you no longer want to go somewhere, it is a very simple process to send an email and have that ERR removed. Declining an ERR selection could have a detrimental impact on other BUEs who are trying to leave your facility.
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or suggestions!
Announcements and Information
Open enrollment for the NATCA UNUM Disability Insurance ends September 20th!
There were several notices and flyers that stated the end date was September 30th, but they are incorrect.
If you’d like to take advantage of this special opportunity for NATCA members, please fill out this form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Forms must be received by the end of the day on September 20th and you must have “Started the Allotment” by that date. You can also contact David Bowden at Southern Insurance Group at that email address with any questions you may have.
PROTECT your PAYCHECK!
Are you unable to make it to Communicating for Safety this year, but want to keep up with the action? Good news! CFS will be live-streamed!
Head over to www.natca.org/CFS and log into the members’ side of the website to tune in starting Monday, September 18 at 12pm Vegas time.