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June 2024 New England Bi-Monthly Regional Update #1

From Mick Devine, NATCA New England Regional Vice President

DevineMick 59895 8344 min

Greetings New England,

As we move ourselves into the summer traffic and the six-day workweeks, it has been a very eventful May. New England reps went to Philadelphia to join our brothers and sisters from the Eastern Region for our annual FacRep Meeting. New England reps were educated on things like Training, Safety, NCEPT, Finances, and Hardships along with a three-plus hours-long briefing from President Rich Santa and Executive Vice President Andrew Lebovidge. Our reps came out of this meeting with renewed energy and new knowledge to bring back to their facility and educate you, the membership.

At the conclusion of this meeting, the FAA Reauthorization was passed by both the House and Senate and made its way to the President’s desk for signature. This was possibly the most historic and influential bill in recent memory for NATCA and the members in which we represent. For the first time, FAA Finance and the gang of accountants with no Air Traffic background have been eliminated from briefing Congress annually through the Controller Workforce Plan on the status of the number of controllers they believe we need to staff our buildings. It is FAA Finance, which as recently as last year, who was reporting our NAS as 103% staffed. In spite of all the naysayers, NATCA got this bill across the finish line. A huge shout-out goes to all of our Legislative activists, NATCA leaders, NATCA members, and most importantly, our NATCA President for continuing down this difficult path, which many said not to even try because it would never get done. While this does not, in and of itself, solve our staffing problems, it is the most important step and a step that, not through lack of effort, we have never been able to accomplish, until now.

The other big staffing component of the FAA Reauthorization Bill is maximum hiring. While many legislators had asked NATCA to define a number of trainees that would work for us to hire each year, NATCA remained steadfast that the language needed to remain “maximum” and not defined as a specific number. Why was this so important? Simple… There are many pathways to be hired. Some of those pathways have finite numbers per year in which they can hire. Take for example the academy. The FAA academy, which is our primary destination for new hires, can only produce a maximum of nearly 2,000 hires per year. There is much talk about adding a new academy somewhere in the country. That would essentially double that 2,000 assuming it was of equivalent size to the current academy. There is also talk of CTI schools receiving the ability to go right from those schools directly to a facility. They must have the same or better training and evaluation standards as the academy. This would be the largest of the new pathways towards massive amounts of reinforcements headed our way. The hope is to get that 2,000 annual goal up north of 3,000. We recognize that in just a few short years, the white book generation starts to become eligible for retirement and the sentiment we hear and observe now is that, contrary to the historical averages, people are fleeing this career field at their first opportune time. That means that the next few years of hiring will be split into making up for years of under-hiring by the agency as well as the need to replace the massive amounts of people who may just very well leave at the first available time. Again, staffing will take some time to hit us, but the process towards fixing our staffing issues has begun with this massive win.

Once we are able to reinforce the staffing levels at our facilities, the six-day workweeks will fade away, giving us our family time back. Spot leave could become a possibility once again in some of our historically low-staffed buildings. As the level 4-7s and En Route facilities begin to get filled up from the academy, the employee movement process should begin to churn again in the way it was intended. The implementation of our new staffing numbers must take into consideration our ability to move throughout the system. That being said, there is no plan to implement them right away, which would cause a shutdown of employee movement. There will be some kind of phased-in approach. That phased-in approach will take into consideration the balancing of staffing buildings appropriately while continuing to allow for movement throughout the NAS.

I hope you have a wonderful start to your summer!

From Scott Robillard, NATCA New England ARVP

Hello NATCA New England. Being a FacRep, Local Executive Board (LEB) member, or regional LR Team member, has its not-so-glamorous side: record keeping. From time to time, you will run into instances where the Agency makes some “less than truthful” statements or accusations. Most times when they do, they are using material that is either fraudulent, untimely, or contractually barred.  

Now, I suspect some are wondering, “How can that possibly be true?!”

Let’s look at some examples. All three have happened in the last year in New England:

1) The FAA conducted a security investigation into an employee. Upon the investigator entering the building, the Air Traffic Manager briefs the investigator that the employee to be interviewed has an 8-month-old Letter of Reprimand (LOR) for the same type of offense.  

The Facts? The FAA issued an LOR 8 months earlier, but the LOR was rescinded when it was proven that the events claimed in the LOR did not occur. 

What was the impact? The ATM created a predisposition of guilt in the mind of the investigator that was corrected during the 1-on-1 pre-meeting between the investigator and the NATCA Representative.  

2) FAA used as supporting evidence in a discipline case that an Operational Supervisor (OS) had counseled the employee previously for bad behavior prior to the event they were being suspended for. 

The Fact? The Operational Supervisor (OS) had not conducted any counseling whatsoever. The Agency had no evidence of any counseling, and the only referenced alleged counseling was in a witness interview of the OS when they were trying to defend their own handling of the employees’ conduct. 

What was the outcome? The employees’ discipline was reduced to a mere fraction of the proposal and the Operational Supervisor (OS) was suspended for making false official statements.  

3) FAA issues multiple employees with proposed suspensions of more than 30 days. When applying the Douglas Factors for similarly situated employees (which is required by Contract and case law), the Agency only considers the proposal suspension length of other cases, not how the cases were adjudicated based on the facts. 

Fact: Similarly situated is what happened. Not what a rogue HR/LR Specialist or manager wants to propose.  

Impact: If allowed to stand, the FAA would propose all suspensions at 100 days. Setting all proposals at 100 days would eliminate these specific Douglas Factors.  

Representatives need to keep accurate records. Moreover, the representative needs to be proactive. The representative needs to meet with the interviewer and gain an understanding of what the Agency is to trying to accomplish. And they need to challenge or validate each point of the inquiry. They need to review historical information and remember what has happened in their building. When something new happens in a facility, they need to seek help from regional teams.  

Representatives need to educate their membership that if an Operational Supervisor (OS) or FAA Investigator wants to meet with you, it is not to wish you a “happy birthday” or give you a performance award. It is because they want something and it’s normally not good.  

If they want to give you a performance award, they will have an all-hands meeting. When was the last one of those in your facility? (But they do find time for the managers’ meeting…) 

Paid Parental Leave & Federal Childcare

From Christina Wilcko, NATCA Childcare Rep

The Paid Parental Leave (PPL) MOU has been updated to reflect the January 1st, 2021, deletion of the 1,250 hours of work requirement to be eligible for PPL, and it is retroactive.

What does this mean? It means that there is no requirement for 1,250 hours of work but there is still the requirement of 12 months of Federal Service, consecutive or nonconsecutive. If you had military time, delivered the mail, etc, you can count that time towards the 12 months of Federal Service and are eligible for PPL.

If you were denied PPL based on the 1,250 hours of work requirement after January 1st, 2021, please let your RVP know no later than June 3rd, 2024.

Link to the new MOU: https://www.natca.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/PPL-Revision-MOU-Final-051624.pdf

Also, there is a new Child Care Subsidy Provider! Cherokee Nation Federal Consulting

[email protected]  -or- 1-866-201-7267


From Karen MacCrate, NATCA New England Training Rep, ZBW

Happy June NATCA New England! As we go into the Summer months, training remains a priority but becomes more difficult to facilitate. So far, as a district, we remain over 100% with the NTI (National Training Initiative) and are doing a phenomenal job! Thank you to all who work so hard to achieve this!

Speaking of the NTI, I want to reiterate its purpose. The purpose is to help identify impediments to training so we can come up with solutions to these issues. One of the things nationally that the NTI has helped to identify is the lack of simulation training at many facilities throughout the NAS. When we don’t have traffic commensurate with a trainee’s current level, the use of simulation is particularly helpful. As part of the Reauthorization, getting simulation “labs” at every facility has become a priority. 

With that being said, please be honest and forthcoming with impediments. If we are all training when we can train, which I believe we are, it will only further illustrate our lack of staffing and resources as the primary cause of training not being conducted. When looking at the NTI there are “good” and “bad” impediments. They are not actually good or bad, but when they input the impediments, some impediments give credit back to the facility and some do not. This is what makes up the percentage. For example, a trainee taking leave is a “good” impediment while “trainees used for staffing” is “bad”. In other words, the things facilities can do nothing about get credit back and the things that could have a fix do not. Sometimes a facility might be under 100% pre-impediment, but are over 100% post-impediment.

When looking at the “bad” impediments, we want to help in any way we can. If we need more OJTI or CIC classes, if we can change schedules to accommodate access to more OJTIs, continue to advocate for simulations at every facility, etc., these are the things we can address to help get training accomplished and get more CPCs!

If anyone has any questions or concerns please feel free to reach out anytime at [email protected]! Thank you again for all you do every day!

Announcements and Information

Get ready to join us at Communicating for Safety (CFS) 2024! CFS is NATCA’s premier aviation safety conference uniting industry leaders, innovators, and professionals. Join us from September 16-18, 2024, at The Horseshoe Las Vegas for three days of unparalleled insights into safety, technology, and relationship-building. Engage in dynamic discussions, network with peers and pioneers, and shape the future of aviation.

Registration is now open, and all registrants can take advantage of lower early-bird prices for conference registration and tickets for the Archie League Medal of Safety Awards banquet through August 18. Don’t wait! Save money and secure your place now for an event that promises to elevate your expertise and connections in the skies.

Register and learn more about CFS 2024 here: https://www.natca.org/cfs/

Interested in learning about ways you can get involved and help other NATCA members? How about taking a NATCA Academy class? All of these classes offer great opportunities to learn more about NATCA and how our union works for its members!

Visit natca.org/academy/ to learn more about each of the courses and portal.natca.org to sign up!

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