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February 2024 New England Bi-Monthly Regional Update #1

From Mick Devine, NATCA New England Regional Vice President

DevineMick 59895 8344 min

January was a very busy month. Travel for the Strategic Leadership Meeting (SLM), an attempted NEB meeting in Nashville, ABACUS validation at ZJX, and the Committee Chair meeting in Chicago.

All were week-long meetings except for the two-day meeting in Chicago.

At the SLM, discussions surrounding the potential degradation of collaboration throughout the NAS. This was apparently never as evident as the relationship during Article 32/24 negotiations. Luckily, your New England Reps were prepared for the FAA’s digging in of their heels because of the pounding the FAA took about staffing. In New England, our Reps were up to the challenge and dug in their own heels as well and wouldn’t settle for bad agreements to protect any fictitious relationship. Your New England Reps have been trained for this, were ready for this, rolled up their sleeves, and signed good agreements that they could be proud of in front of their members.

The NEB meeting went from a standard meeting to a disaster as a result of the weather. Not one RVP was able to get to Nashville and many of us were stuck mid-way through. So the meeting went virtual and we had to conduct it over a three-day period. The Friday portion of the meeting was centered around the rumors circulating about five centers being upgraded or being blocked by the NEB. To put a rest to any rumors, here is what actually happened: In October of 2022, the FAA came to NATCA to advise them that they were defunding ABACUS, which is the program being created that will enable us to count center traffic and get our centers paid correctly. President Rich Santa argued the ignorance of this decision and how important this program is to accurately pay our En Route controllers. Rich presented the agency with an option to upgrade 5 centers until such time that ABACUS was complete. After much back and forth, and without the risk of any downgrades, the FAA agreed with NATCA to create a workgroup to upgrade those five centers. Rich came to the NEB with that info, and the NEB didn’t have the appetite for this because it was not a repeatable process. This position was reached due to needing 75% NEB approval as per the constitution to pass such a proposal. This workgroup idea did not receive the required interest to even take an official vote.

As far as ABACUS, our trip to validate the program at ZJX was met with extreme success. We validated the program to a 99% accuracy. This a very promising update as the program is really starting to come together. Paying our members appropriately for the work they do is the highest of the priorities of the organization.

In terms of finances, NATCA New England was one of only two regions that operated under budget this past year. We had a budget of $120,000 and spent $119,959. New England had to make difficult decisions last year to cut back some of what we wanted to do because of the increased costs of doing business. That didn’t happen everywhere.

NATCA has also sent over a notification for our intent to open up the Blue Book and the Purple Book. These contracts were extended to 2024 and thus we had the unilateral right to open those two contracts. The Slate Book can be unilaterally opened in January of 2026.


Upcoming events…

We have our very first regional Representative Training (RT1) next week. We have 20 members taking on the task of this long, very important, and valuable class.

We also have our regional solidarity event sponsored by ZBW. A huge shout out to ZBW FacRep Kevin Coeyman and his team for putting this on.

We will also be starting to put together our Campaign 2024 team. Stay tuned for more info on that from your local Legislative Rep or FacRep.

Lastly, I want to thank you for all the work you all do every day to keep New England as one of the top regions in the country.


From Scott Robillard, NATCA New England Senior Advisor

January is always an interesting month for regional leadership. It is when most Local Executive Boards change over and when a lot of new FacReps start. Historically, New England has been very stable in our FacRep positions. There is change, like everywhere else, but as far as FacReps, New England tends to swap them out less frequently than a lot of the country. That is my experience anyway.

With those changes taking place, I thought it would be a good time to talk about what the role of an Alternate Regional Vice President (ARVP) is and how they help the Regional Vice President (RVP) be successful. First, the ARVP is the direct line of representation with the District General Manager (GM) and they work all issues that make it out of the facility. But long before that, they talk with, mentor, and guide the FacRep.

When an ARVP is working with a new FacRep, part of the responsibility is to help them transition from the academic aspect of learning to growing and understanding how it is applied to the practical application. The teaching of the art of negotiations happens in-region, at facilities, like OJT. Then, there is the hard part. Helping them know the difference between representing an employee in a meeting and trying to defend the actions of the employee.

It all starts at the entry-level class that we call RT1. Then the work begins to take book knowledge and help the new Representative grow to the heights we all expect.

The week of February 5th, New England will be hosting our first regional RT1. Let the learning process begin!


Training

From Karen MacCrate, NATCA New England Training Rep, ZBW

We are in the dead of winter and many facilities are seeing the winter traffic as well. It’s sometimes difficult to balance the need to see traffic with the NTI. There is an impediment for “lack of consistent traffic” and “traffic not commensurate with employees level of training.” While we strive to meet the NTI and provide consistency in training, we still have a responsibility to the NAS to train controllers to work under general supervision. This includes summer traffic. 

One thing that can help augment OJT is Skill Improvement Training (SIT). You can use SIT to work on things you are not seeing or not getting enough practice on in OJT such as sequencing or holding. From FAA Order 3120.4R, chapter 4, para 5(d):

(I highlighted a couple of points to remember about SIT vs. SDT. I will discuss SDT in another update)

Skill Improvement Training. The purpose of SIT is to provide an individual with the opportunity to participate in training that will enrich their ATC skills, abilities, and knowledge through simulation, electronic learning, observation, etc. SIT is not used to correct a specific performance deficiency. 

SIT may be assigned to a trainee for a position on which they are receiving OJT. SIT may be assigned in order to enhance specific skills, abilities, or knowledge to assist in their success in the training program. The trainee’s supervisor, in consultation with the training team, should identify and assign SIT suitable for enhancing the identified skill. The supervisor will 

coordinate the training to be provided with the TA. The TA will develop training tailored to the request. If simulation is requested, the TA will schedule simulation scenarios, subject to availability. When SIT is assigned under this paragraph, the trainee’s supervisor will document in writing, via memorandum to the trainee, the specific skills to be enhanced using the job task/job subtask from Appendix B. At the conclusion of SIT, a Training Team meeting must be conducted to document the suitability and effectiveness of the training. 

Written SIT assignments will specify goals, duration, and methods of training (e.g., simulation, electronic learning, classroom, self-study, observation). OJT does not need to be paused during SIT. Training Team members should participate in conducting SIT. SIT assigned to a trainee must be documented on FAA Form 3120-1 Section V, or the electronic equivalent. SIT must be documented on FAA Form 3120-25, -26, -27, -32, -36, or the electronic equivalent of one of these, for each session. At the conclusion of SIT, a Training Team meeting must be conducted to document the suitability and effectiveness of the training. 

Despite the challenges we face, there have been a lot of certifications and we are meeting the NTI as a district. Thank you to everyone for doing such an amazing job training! Any questions or concerns please contact me anytime at karenmaccrate@natca.net.

Labor-Management Relations

From Lisa Fulford, NATCA New England LR Coordinator, A90

During Q4 PAR we were able to settle all the cases and award grievants the requested remedies. This allowed us to cancel the meeting with the neutral and saved the Union the associated costs. We will continue to work with the agency to settle the cases and award the requested remedies prior to going to PAR.

Currently, we have 3 grievances submitted for Q1 2024 PAR. We are scheduled to meet with the agency on Wednesday, March 3rd. We have received a few grievances regarding pay issues. Our team is working hard gathering information, researching, and building our cases. 

Our team consists of myself, Nick Marangos (LR Lead), Bryan Krampovitis, Matt Morgan, Kevin Coeyman, Steve Brown, Kevin Curtiss, Joe Allen, and Hanan Wiseman. 


Drug & Alcohol Information

From Jim Basford, NATCA New England Drug & Alcohol Rep, A90

On February 5th I will be traveling to LAS to work with other instructors from the DAC to work on a revamp of the NATCA Academy Drug and Alcohol training course. I also will be teaching the course for the first time with the help of some senior committee members. The course is a day and a half that prepares NATCA reps for on-site testing, and how to help members with regard to substance abuse issues. 

While I think it is a great course that we are improving on unfortunately it is probably one of the harder courses to get into and we constantly have a wait list. In the past, we have had a New England Regional class for DAC and in that one class, we trained about 3 years worth of Reps in a day and a half. The expense for the regional classes is paid for by region’s budget instead of the national training budget. Having an instructor in the region can help to reduce costs of a possible future local class. 

Does your facility have a Drug and Alcohol Rep? The answer is yes, unless that duty has been designated to someone else, it is another task that falls to the FacRep. I am a believer that many hands make light work. I am hoping after the national class revamp to put together some mini classes where we could cover some of the topics over Zoom if people are interested.  

If you are interested in either attending the National DAC class or are interested in the mini-sessions please talk to your FacRep.


Announcements and Information


NATCA has a fresh class you’ll love! Grab a 50% off box of Valentine’s chocolates and spend the afternoon of February 15th from 2:00-4:00pm ET learning about our Union during NATCA’s original virtual class, NATCA 101.

NATCA 101 reviews our Union’s history, the work the Union does for its members, and gives insight for how members can become more involved.

Whether you prefer to follow a piper arrow or cupid’s arrow, find your way to the NATCA portal to sign up: https://portal.natca.org




Do you know a NATCA member who represents professionalism to you and stands out as an example for the positive impact they make in their job?

If so, now is the time to recognize that individual for their ability to bring honor and respect to their job by nominating them for the NATCA National Professionalism Award.

Each year, NATCA recognizes one recipient from each FAA Service Area, a minimum of 3 individuals, who go above and beyond to demonstrate professionalism through their commitment to safety and upholding the public’s trust in our work.

Nominations are open now through June 1, 2024. The awards will be given out at Communicating for Safety (CFS)- next year’s event will be held September 16-18, 2024.

The nomination form and more information on NATCA’s Professional Standards Committee, can be found at https://natca.org/committees/ps/


NATCA is currently accepting nominations for the 20th Archie League Medal of Safety Awards!

Events must occur between May 1, 2023, and April 30, 2024. Any member may nominate another member for an Archie League Medal of Safety Award. The awards will be presented in September during the Communicating for Safety conference in Las Vegas.

Click here for the nomination form.

If you have questions or are having trouble collecting all nomination materials, please contact outreachandevents@natca.org.


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