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February 2024 New England Bi-Monthly Regional Update #2

From Bryan Krampovitis, NATCA New England ARVP

For the first time, NATCA New England hosted Representative Training 1 (RT-1) here at home in New England. RT-1 is one of two tools we use to get new reps up and running and filled with NATCA knowledge, the second tool being onboarding, which is meant to provide enough training to hold over new reps until they are able to attend RT-1.

RT-1 is typically held in Las Vegas to keep costs down for the national organization and is usually held 2-3 times per year. While holding RT-1 in Las Vegas keeps costs down due to large contracts with area hotels and a semi-centralized location, it raises issues for regions located further away, including the costs associated with an extra day or two of travel due to flight times. The distance prohibits some members from making the trip for time reasons as well. Being a nationally offered class, each region is usually limited to around 3 members per class, being lucky if a region can get 9 members through the class in a year.

This is what prompted Kevin Curtiss (ZBW) to advocate for the region to have RT-1 taught locally here in New England. Through much hard work, Kevin advocated for the class, organized it, and promoted it throughout the region to ensure it was money well spent. Great job to him.

RT-1 teaches our reps the foundations of being a NATCA rep, from union rights and representative rights to problem-solving, grievances, and schedule negotiations. RT-1 provides in-depth instruction into the important topics our facility reps need to know. Reps leave the class with enough knowledge to properly represent their membership and improve working conditions in their facilities.

Great job again to Kevin and all the members who took their days off and/or leave, and made the effort to attend this event. This will pay off dividends for years to come throughout the New England Region!

NATCA New England, I am a former Area Rep at Boston ARTCC. In April of 2022, during the middle of my term, I attended Representative Training (RT1) in Las Vegas. I left thinking, “This isn’t just for Reps. It’s knowledge. Every air traffic controller working for The FAA ought to know this”. I also left thinking, “However, it’s in Vegas, which is brutal for families, a time-off challenge, and held only a handful of times. year. I wanted one in our Region. Shortly after returning, our Regional Vice President Mick Devine was introduced to my thoughts on a New England RT1. He liked the idea of the members he represented being given an opportunity to attend a class they might not otherwise be able to take advantage of. We also then discussed the challenges which included the cost, the limited availability of instructors, the time of year (as to not conflict with other NATCA events), and the location in New England. He indicated those were all significant, but was open to bringing it to The NEB. Rewind about a year ago to our Spring Fling Event, I’m walking into the area and see Mick standing with our Union’s President, Rich Santa. Operating with an intent to seek forgiveness rather than permission, I introduced myself to Rich and said something to the tune of “I’m the guy that wants RT1 in New England, how can we do this? We need more members to attend, but going to Vegas is not an option for too many of us”. He, Mick, and I engaged in discussion, and before he addressed The Region about our Union’s Legislative efforts, he said “I’ll get it done for you”. Mick and I kept in touch. He asked that The New England Region’s 2024 budget include supporting a weeklong RT1 in New England. When each Region was given its budget back in the fall, he reached out and said to make it happen. The week of 2/5-2/9 NATCA New England members from BTV, BED, BOS, A90, PWM, and ZBW attended the first local RT1 training class. It was a success on many fronts. Our members were educated, our Union grew stronger, and New England showed National that there is a different way to train. Thank You to everyone who took time away from their families that week to get better. 

– Kevin Curtiss, ZBW

It doesn’t matter how long you have been a member of NATCA, there is always something new to learn about our union and its interaction with its members and the agency. This was never more real to me than after attending last week’s New England Region-sponsored RT1 class. It was by far the most well-organized, informative, and motivating class I’ve taken in recent memory. The instructors did not just lecture the material but made each member in attendance a part of it with their interaction. Having access to that kind of training right here in our own region is priceless. It allows a large portion of our local members to be educated, motivated, and go back to their facilities with confidence, making our NATCA presence that much stronger.  

-AJ Garcia, PWM Vice President

I would like to extend my appreciation to Kevin Curtiss for advocating for an RT-1 class in the New England region, and to everyone involved in making it a reality. This was a unique opportunity for NNE members to connect and learn from long-time leaders in our Union. I would also like to thank the members in my area, especially TS and HR for working credit to cover my leave so I could attend. I’m excited to share what I’ve learned and help make ZBW a better place to work.

This class showed that our contract can only be as strong as our enforcement of it. Management isn’t going to adhere to the contract just because it exists. As a Union, we fought for the protections our contract affords. Our job is to hold management to the bargain they made. That means learning together, sharing our experiences, and always standing up for what’s right. If we don’t fight for that, no one will! Fortunately, the bench in our region is strong and ready to get to work for our members, our profession, and our Union.

-Aaron Russell, ZBW

This year, the New England region hosted its first regional Representative Training (RT-1) class. The class was attended by many members of our region, and it allowed us the unique opportunity to receive this training together, locally. It was nice to put names and faces to those that I interact with daily. I want to thank NATCA New England for hosting this event, and for allowing me to strengthen who I am as a current, and future representative.

-Hannah Equi, A90 Secretary

I recently had the privilege of attending the first locally offered RT-1 class with fellow union members from the New England region. The class was certainly an eye-opening experience and I strongly urge other members to participate in if they have the opportunity. In my personal experience, I feel like I have joined the union three different times. The first time was when I initially signed the paperwork to become a union member after going through training in Oklahoma City. The second time was during my election at ZBW to become TMU Area Representative. Becoming an area representative has expanded my knowledge and appreciation for all of the hard work done by of our fellow local union members. The most recent time was during my participation of RT-1 class.

During the class, we learned about the history, struggles, conflicts, and successes of being a cohesive family of hard-working individuals and members of NATCA. Throughout the course, it was clear to me that many of the rights offered to members would not be in place without the help of NATCA. Our pay scales could be compromised, our leave balances could be lower, our environment could be more unworkable and our equipment could be worse off than it already is. This class made me realize all of the work NATCA has put into making these basic benefits accessible to members.

NATCA provides its members with a voice and a way to show that we are not just a number. Personally, I have gained a new respect and view of NATCA and encourage anyone who wants to be more involved to take it as well. An educated union is a strong union. Work together, be involved, and know that we have one of, if not, the strongest unions there is.

I want to give a special thank you to Kevin Curtiss for his commitment and efforts in putting this all together. His passion and drive to better our union has really been noticed. In my opinion, Kevin’s idea to offer local RT-1 classes was something that should have been offered a long time ago and I hope that it continues.

-Jason Bueno, ZBW TMU/Staff Area Rep

RT-1 covers a broad range of topics regarding the rights and responsibilities of NATCA representatives. The instructors shared knowledge and experience that is invaluable to leaders in our union. I recommend this class to anyone interested in better understanding how NATCA operates and our rights as bargaining unit employees, regardless of whether they plan to be a representative or simply become a more informed member of the workforce.

-Garret Blank, BTV Vice President

I was able to attend RT1 last week. This class explored a wide range of topics and took a deep dive into things such as the roles of a Union representative, qualities of an effective leader, collaboration, negotiations, BUE protections under the Law/CBA, training, and safety, to name a few. It was five days of nonstop information and this list is far from exhaustive. This class is a must for any member, whether you’re in a leadership role or not. We all benefit from having this knowledge and we become stronger as a Union when we take the information back to our facilities and share it with our members. 

-Mike DiFalco, BOS Facility Representative/President

As a new FacRep, RT-1 was very informative. The class really got into some of the nitty-gritty of the contract and left me with a better understanding of our rights. I also got to meet some great people and see how other facilities are applying certain articles. It’s definitely worth anyone’s time who’s interested.

-Elaina McCutcheon, BED Facility Representative/President

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