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Team Excellence Award

Recipients of the Team Excellence Award:

2021: National Validation Team

(Presented at the 18th Biennial Convention in Houston, Dec. 9, 2021)

The NATCA Team Excellence Award was created to recognize NATCA teams, workgroups, or committees that exemplify the true collective spirit of working together to achieve greatness.

The National Validation Team (NVT) does very important work for the NATCA membership. On both a quarterly and weekly basis, the committee evaluates and audits real-time traffic count information to ensure that NATCA members are properly compensated for the work that is done at each facility.

They have no margin of error. They must have 100 percent certainty on their evaluations. It’s tedious, long, painstaking work. It’s a skill that these members train for. It takes a lot of motivation and peer education to get ready to do these things. It’s a commitment.

The NVT is one of the most high functioning collaborative teams that there is between the FAA and NATCA. Their work and preparation allows them to come up with options to negotiate and properly advocate on behalf of NATCA members in these very complex decisions.

The NVT consists of members Brody McCray (Washington Center, ZDC), Scott Fineron (Northern California TRACON, NCT), Corey Grafe (Philadelphia ATCT, PHL), John Tornatore-Pili (San Francisco ATCT, SFO), Steven Spiller (Boston ATCT, BOS), Jonathan Bouhebent (Denver Center, ZDV), Gilbert Geer (Joshua Control Facility, JCF), Matthew Scala (Denver TRACON, D01), Mike Weekley (Columbus ATCT, CMH), Heather McNevin (Minneapolis Center, ZMP), Mark Dillon, and Mark Dawson (Spokane ATCT, GEG).

View award presentation below.

2021: National Legislative Committee

(Presented at the 18th Biennial Convention in Houston, Dec. 9, 2021)

The National Legislative Committee (NLC) takes its role very seriously as the leaders of the Union’s growing and highly successful grassroots legislative activity. From coast to coast, NATCA aims to establish and grow relationships with all 535 Congressional offices. That speaks to the Union’s commitment to growing the NATCA Majority that protects our Union by promoting good legislation that helps us and also stopping bad legislation that would hurt us.

The NLC oversees the grassroots effort along with our Government Affairs Department. They keep the list of state coordinators robust and energized, filtering down to the local level. What starts at NATCA in Washington each year continues throughout the year, so that members of the NATCA Majority are engaged on our issues and can better understand how our members do their jobs.

NATCA honored the NLC with the Team Excellence Award for a specific accomplishment: helping to battle and then end the longest government shutdown in history in January 2019. That shutdown began Dec. 22, 2018. NATCA started its outreach to Congress before the New Year began and aggressively made the case for why this was a serious threat to aviation safety.

The NLC was on the front lines of the team effort to end the shutdown. NLC members devoted an incredible amount of work, using their own time, as they of course were still required to show up for work without getting paid like the rest of NATCA’s members designated as essential employees.

NATCA rallied on Capitol Hill, executed a mini lobby week effort at the National Office that targeted key Congressional offices, made countless calls, and sent many texts and emails to members of Congress and their staffers. It was a constant stream of contact.

Simply put, the NLC never gave up. Its members woke up each day and pledged to work harder and never quit until the shutdown ended.

“That was one heckuva month,” said former NLC chair Steve Weidner, who led the committee during the shutdown. “This team never quit and we did things with a moments’ notice. I was honored and humbled to be a part of this.”

“Thank you to our leadership for this award,” said current NLC Vice Chair Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik (Santa Barbara, SBA) who served as Western Pacific Regional Representative on the NLC during the shutdown. “It is especially humbling that this award has the word ‘team’ in it. This team is a family. And we rely on each other all year long to fight legislative battles on behalf of our organization. The word team means so much to me. The teamwork done during the 25-day shutdown was the entire team in this room. It took all of us to do the critical work that we were called upon to do.”

View award presentation below.

2018: No-Experience Direct Hire Initial Screen (NDIS) Team

(Presented at Communicating For Safety 2018)

No-Experience Direct Hire Initial Screen (NDIS): Team members were Jim Dyckman (N90), Daniel Foster (D10), Marc Schneider (ZID), Maurice Franklin (PCT), and Leah Montes (SCT). The NDIS workgroup developed a collaborative approach for the FAA and NATCA to address the challenges of placing employees with no prior ATC experience into level 10 and above terminal RADAR facilities.

Based on an analysis of the terminal training curriculum, the workgroup identified a need to update several parts of the terminal training. As a result of this work, several improvements were made to this curriculum. These are just a few of their accomplishments:

  • They improved the existing Academy courses, RTF, and TSEW;
  • They developed a high volume, complex TRACON radar course, TETRA (10, 11, 12 radar assessment);
  • They are developing a new curriculum for N90, improving stages 2, 3, 6, and 7.

“These team members worked collaboratively with their Agency workgroup members to make all these changes to the terminal training in just over a year,” NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert said. “This required the NDIS team members to travel back and forth weekly to N90 and the Academy for months to accomplish the workgroup’s goal.”

Watch the award presentation below.

2018: 3120.4 Rewrite Team

(Presented at Communicating For Safety 2018)

3120.4 Rewrite Team members: Jimmy Lake (HCF), Andreas Sanchez (DFW), and Trevor Thompson (ZJX). The workgroup was established to collaboratively address reviewing, revising, and making recommendations for changes to the national training order (3120.4).

This order needed a significant rewrite and editorial work. The team members worked for extended periods of time in Washington, D.C., with their Agency counterparts to complete the task. That time expanded over 14 months and required extended time away from their home facilities and families.

Additionally, their preparation involved weeks of research and discussion to prepare for those workgroup meetings. The workgroup made significant changes to the order, including:

  • They reduced the size of the order by standardizing the format of the chapters and appendices;
  • They better defined the OJTI selection process; skill enhancement is now divided and the two parts are now more clearly defined;
  • They clearly outlined OJTI requirements, certification, and selection process.

“Their efforts will result in improvements to the training process across all facilities in the National Airspace System,” NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert said.

Watch the award presentation below.

2018: OJTI Curriculum Workgroup

(Presented at the 17th Biennial Convention in Philadelphia)

The On-the-Job Training Instructor (OJTI) Curriculum Workgroup was empaneled in 2013 to work on a new OJTI Workshop and OJTI Cadre course to replace the out-of-date workshop that was in place.

As the work progressed, the Air Traffic Safety Action Program (ATSAP) identified an increase in incidents involving different factors related to OJT, and it became apparent that an OJTI Supplemental Workshop was needed.

Over the course of the next three years, Tom Hedeen, Marc Schneider (pictured above far left), and Jimmy Lake (pictured above second from right) worked tirelessly to develop an OJTI Supplemental Workshop as well as the OJTI Workshop and Cadre Courses. The first course was conducted in December of 2016 and began rollout to the field in April 2017.

This team dedicated countless hours and extraordinary effort to ensure that the members they represented would receive the best possible preparation to provide OJT.

Watch the award presentation below.

2018: National Organizing Committee

(Presented at the 17th Biennial Convention in Philadelphia)

NATCA’s National Organizing Committee was honored for its dedication to growing the NATCA family and ensuring that all aviation safety professionals who seek representation are assisted by the best.

In 2014 the committee launched the NATCA Difference campaign, highlighting the benefits and opportunities that come with NATCA membership. In 2016 we saw those efforts pay off when NATCA won a runoff election for the Financial Management (AFN) bargaining unit, adding 1,300 new NATCA Bargaining Unit Employees (BUEs).

Since the mid-1990s, NATCA has been working to represent Federal Contract Towers (FCT), and in March 2018, NATCA chartered its 100th FCT NATCA local. The Organizing Committee has shown extraordinary dedication, and continues to expand our family with new members and locals.

Committee chairman John Bratcher (FSM), and members Clarence Cadenhead (MCI), Israel Bonilla (PHL), Mike Weekley (CMH), Phil Hughes (A90), Rob Valland (ZDV), Ken Slauson (EAL), Susan Lefler (ENM), Brad Burtner (PMP), Michael Gifford (CHA), Cesar Cordero (ELP), and Melissa Pollard (L30) were honored.

Watch the award presentation below.

2018: Critical Incident Stress Management Team

(Presented at the 17th Biennial Convention in Philadelphia)

NATCA honored the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team for the work they did during the previous year during and after the devastating natural disaster season, particularly hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, but also for the California wildfires, and everything in between.

CISM team members Chris Schenk (ZSE), Carrie Uphus (STP), Holly Cron (ZHU), Kristine Mooso (ZBW), Travis Jensen (ZAN), Kristen Laubach (PHL), Matt Ellington (ORD), Joel Weiler (LGB), Mike Napolitano (ZMP), Deb Stewart (CRP), Andrea Moore (CLT), Tom Hedeen (DEN), Sarah Grampp (ZKC), Krystal Causey (ZMA), and Maliesa Nichols (MYF) have been there for our members in the most harrowing times.

Even during Convention, they were on standby to lend an ear and advice for those affected by SWA Flight 1380 in Philadelphia and the death of member Kristle Jimenez (SFO). These members take little acknowledgement, but are there for each of us any time an incident occurs or we need an understanding peer to talk to.

Watch the award presentation below.

2017: Professional Standards Team Members Garth Koleszar, Andy Marosvari, and Jeff Richards

(Presented at Communicating For Safety 2017)

NATCA honored founding members of the Union’s Professional Standards Program Garth Koleszar, Andy Marosvari, and Jeff Richards for their efforts in launching and growing the program.

“The team receiving this award today helped take NATCA to a new level,” said Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert during the presentation. She added that the trio is committed and dedicated to making sure professionalism is at the forefront of everything we do.

Gilbert explained that in 2009, the Professional Standards program was first codified in the Red Book collective bargaining agreement. In 2010, reps from FAA and NATCA met in Cleveland to begin drafting the program.

Gilbert said the three are some of the most dedicated NATCAvists. “They have committed their entire careers to better this Union and to highlight and strengthen our professionalism.”

Watch the award presentation below.

2016: Slate Book Contract Negotiating Team

(Presented at the 16th Biennial Convention in San Diego)

Going into contract negotiations for what became the 2016 Slate Book covering the ATC/FSS/TMU/NOTAM bargaining units, NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said he had one guiding philosophy.

“I wanted to continue to build on the road of success and collaboration that NATCA and the FAA have developed over the past several years, and continue to move the Agency forward and continue to grow aviation in this country,” he said.

NATCA’s Contract Team was comprised of: Dean Iacopelli (Chief Negotiator, Eastern Regional Vice President), Phil Barbarello (Former Eastern RVP), John Bratcher (Fort Smith), Eddie DeLisle (Portland, Ore., TRACON), Jamaal Haltom (Las Vegas Tower), Drew MacQueen (Cleveland Center), Eugene Freedman (Special Counsel to the President, National Office), and Ryan Smith (Director of Labor Relations, National Office). On Friday, Sept. 2, 2016, at the 16th Biennial Convention, Rinaldi and Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert honored the contract team members by presenting them with the NATCA Team Excellence Award.

The contract team became the first to establish an article within a contract solely about collaboration. It incorporates all of NATCA’s collaborative principles and processes and will provide stability for the workforce for the next six years. Collaboration is not simply a memorandum of understanding. It is a practice that has been fostered by NATCA and the FAA for the last five years that is now memorialized by the contract.

“Most of the changes you will see in the contract really reflect just a change of acknowledging the way we have been working for quite some time,” Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic Organization (ATO) Chief Operating Officer Teri Bristol said.

Interest-based bargaining was a leap of faith, Rinaldi said, but there was trust in collaboration on both sides.

The result, Iacopelli said, was a big step forward in the parties’ relationship.

“In this case, we worked our way through a term agreement for over 14,000 employees without requiring the outside assistance for arbitration or even mediation,” he said.

NATCA and the FAA developed processes to ensure collaboration at the national, regional, and local levels, setting the stage for the successful contract negotiations.

“When you reach a voluntary agreement, certainly the parties have more ownership of the words that come out on the paper, and more ownership of its implementation,” Gilbert said.

The NATCA membership ratified the contract with the highest percentage of any collective bargaining agreement in the Union’s history: 98.32 percent.

“It’s the first voluntary agreement in nearly two decades,” said FAA ATO Vice President Tim Arel, “That’s pretty significant in and of itself. But I think it speaks volumes about the maturity of our relationship and about how far we’ve come in reaching a common understanding.”

“I think the truth is, both sides won,” Iacopelli said.

Watch the award presentation below.

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