Friday, May 1, 2009

Change is Coming and No Hurry Home

We're experiencing more culture change at work. FAA management has seen the error of their ways (not that they didn't see it all along) and has begun briefing us on a new day dawning where we all work together for a greater good. Fine. I've always thought that's the way it should be; but why now? Could this possibly have anything to do with the Obama Administration and its dim view of what's been happening within the FAA these past few years with respect to management and their heavy-handed, hypocritical ways?

After my Wednesday briefing on our intended new direction in the workplace, I was plugged into the sector chatting with another controller and I sarcastically stated that I was curious if we'd be seeing this culture shift had McCain been elected. After my remark, the supervisor interjected himself into the conversation and assured me that this new culture change has nothing to do with the Obama administration and that plans for a change have been in the works since well before the election. Really? I had to laugh. "You're not serious, are you?" I asked.

And I made it clear that I wasn't referring to ATSAP.

It didn't take long for me to turn the subject to pay disparity between labor and management and the fact that they've had raises the last three years while controllers have gone without save for a tiny locality increase tacked onto our base. The supe assured me that it was our union's fault that management was still getting raises. wanna run that by me again? He said that management had an offer on the table to Natca (our union) which didn't expire until September and since their pay is tied to whatever Natca negotiates there was nothing management could do to cap their pay until they knew the outcome of the offer on the table. I don't honestly know that I've ever heard anything more ridiculous in my 27+ years in the agency.

I reminded him that Natca turned the offer down immediately. He replied that good faith bargaining meant that the offer had to stay on the table until it expired and by the time it did it was too late to make any changes to stop the pay raise they received last January. "Are you hearing what you're saying and do you actually believe that?" I asked. "If your pay is tied to what Natca negotiated for labor then how is it that you're still getting raises while our pay has been capped?" He never answered that one. "And what's to stop management from putting out another unacceptable offer and leaving it to sit on the table knowing it will never be accepted?"

As unreal as that conversation was I had to wonder if the supe really believed what he was saying. Had he actually justified that scenario in his head? Sadly, I think he had. I'm not sure this supe is ready for the culture change we're about to enter into but I hope I'm wrong.

Tammy headed up to Virginia yesterday morning to see her father at his retirement home while Rachel and I stayed behind. She's got a ton of studying for next week's final exams for some advanced placement (AP) classes she's taking. She's been a bit overwhelmed between school and her work as a dance instructor. They've got her doing choreography on her own time at home and she currently has little to none of that as it is. The other night she was feeling the stress and Tammy and I did our best to give her her space. Any conversation we had with her resulted in one word responses. She had no time for either of us with her nose buried in her books.

I took to the streets on my bike yesterday after Tammy got away with intentions of doing my 'Monday Morning Loop'; a 38-44 mile ride depending on how I finish it. I typically do this ride on Monday mornings before work; hence the name. I got 10 miles into it and began wondering what the hurry was to get home. I decided to cross the river on the bike path on the south side of 494 and stretch it into a 60-something mile ride. I was feeling good about that decision, at least for a while until the drizzle I'd been riding in turned to rain. I was confident that an approaching cold front would eventually move the low ceilings out.

I worked my way west through Bloomington toward Flying Cloud airport and planned to cross the river just north of Shakopee where I could refuel before the final 20 mile stretch for home. But again I thought...what's the hurry? My legs were feeling good but more surprising was that I was holding up as well as I was on as little sleep as I'd had since working the all night shift the previous night and only getting a couple hours of sleep when I got home. It's my weekend and I enjoy my time off too much to sleep it away. I can catch up on my sleep when I retire in another four years.

I stopped at the Holiday station on highway 212 just before getting into Chaska. Rather than reaching for my usual 2-pack of Hostess Cupcakes I opted for a Chuckwagon ham and cheese sandwich instead. Not the best riding food but it's what I was craving. That and two bottles of G2 Gatorade.

I got back on the road and headed in the direction of Jordan to the southwest but before I could get out of Chaska, Creek Road, off to my right caught my eye. I'd often wondered where this road went so I doubled back and decided to find out. I'm finding myself much more inclined to explore some other options now that I've got my Edge 705 leading the way. What a great road it turned out to be and it was taking me in the direction of a stiff northwest wind that was holding steady at 20+ mph. Just what I'd need to help push me home for when I finally turned to head that way.

Five miles out of Chaska the sun was shining and I pulled over to take off my knee warmers. It was then that I realized that I wasn't wearing sunscreen. When I left home 50 miles earlier the plan was to do a couple hour ride in drizzle and fog. Hardly conditions for sunscreen. But there I was under a sunny sky with another 50-60 miles of riding in front of me. Will I ever learn?

I made it to Waconia and headed south, glad to be out of the teeth of the wind I'd been struggling against for most of the ride. I crested a hill just south of town and was surprised to see that Waconia was now boasting its own round-about. These things are popping up everywhere.

I texted Rachel to see how she was doing and to let her know that I was still another 2-3 hours out. She said she'd wait until I got home and we could go somewhere together for dinner.

Next stop for fuel, Cologne. I texted Rachel again to tell her to take some money from my wallet and go get some dinner because I didn't want her to have to wait for me. I got back on my bike and jumped on hwy 212 and dialed the speed up to 30 mph. I'd hold it there for a minute or more then back it down to an easy to manage 25 mph and then repeat the surge. At one point I was cruising along at 45 mph with a couple 18-wheelers off to my left to draft off of. It's a rush that you won't understand without having done it.

I got to Jordan and turned out of the wind for the final 25 mile push for home. My Edge was telling me that going directly home would bring me in at 99 miles. Not good enough. I'd need to do the Orchard Lake loop which adds another 7 miles or so to the total. No worries and no hurry.

A few miles from home I came across a woman walking her four Corgis. They looked like they were smiling. I asked her if it was alright to take their photo and she didn't mind. I wanted to show Tammy, plus I thought it would look good here as well.

It was a good day on the bike with a little over 106 miles ridden at an average speed of 17 mph. Not as fast as I'd like but considering the wind I had to contend with I was happy with my effort. I was glad to have my first century ride of the season completed and that my quads never once failed me as they've had a tendency to do on occasion this year.

Today is a rest day off the bike which works well because I've got glass to cut and an added dance practice tonight and do I ever need that. Hopefully Rachel can work with me once her finals are over next week. She got me into this after all.


John said...

New culture in the FAA? I'll believe it when I see it. I expect that we'll have a contract to hold them to and that they will continue to force labor to use any and all means to force them to abide by the contract. Arbitration cost the union dues money...our money--they just use taxpayers dollars and it doesn't have any negative impact on them.

A new culture will mean that they will be held accountable for their heavy handedness...not that it will stop.

Kevin said...

You make a good point, John. I hadn't thought about the cost of arbitration. I wonder how much Natca needs to budget for that?

FAA management would do well to practice one small suggestion. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Nothing more, nothing less.

Pdog said...

Let me guess, Jethro?

Kevin said...

I think we're talking about the same guy. I intend to follow up with him. It started getting busy in the sector so the conversation ended.

Steve Saeedi said...

I hope the changes you all seek comes to the FAA, whether it's the Obama administration or not.

On another note, Kevin, I'm glad you're getting good use from the 705 and it's helping you explore your state in many ways better than before. 106 miles is no easy feat and I applaud you for taking a short ride and turning it into a century ride on a whim.

I saw a ghost bike on my ride yesterday. One that had been publicized greatly. They always brings me back to the reality that anything could happen. Ride safe.

Kevin said...

Steve...thanks for your comments.

We don't have the 'ghost bikes' you mentioned out here in Minnesota but I'm guessing they mark the place of a fatal bicycle crash. That wouldn't be a bad idea.

Yes, I'm really enjoying my Edge 705; and to think, I thought I wouldn't use the maps all that much. But like I was saying in a recent entry...when I get 30 to 40 miles out I'm less inclined to explore places I'm unfamiliar with but not anymore. It's great.

Thanks again for your input along the way when I had all those questions for you about the unit.

Steve Saeedi said...

Looks like are a few in Minneapolis.

And four riders fallen later

Sadly it happens everywhere.

Kevin said...

Steve...interesting...all of them from the Minneapolis area are from the same month; September 2008. I didn't realize this program was out there.

I know that in South Dakota they put sign markers along the side of the road where people have died in vehicle crashes where alcohol was involved. It's a good program.