Friday, January 4, 2008

Glen Hudson, aka Rock, Developing Friendships and a Letter To the President

Glen Hudson retired from the FAA today and I'll miss him. I've known Glen since 1982 when he was training on his radars and I was A-siding on the C-row. We've spent nearly our entire careers together with the exception of a couple years when I was exiled to Huron, SD.

Glen wasn't the moody type but on occasion, he'd yell for everybody to "SHUT THE FUCK UP!" in the area when he was the only one busy and the rest of us were talking too loudly.

You could almost always count on Glen to keep things light.

Many have tried to imitate his humor but Glen has a certain style which is all his own and anybody trying to do what he does comes off as a wannabe. I'm guilty of that as well. Best wishes for a happy retirement, brother, and here's hoping our paths will cross again one of these days.

Okay, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that with Glen's departure comes a bit of sour grapes on my part. I would've been number one in seniority in my area had it not been for our union's decision that my time spent in Flight Service shouldn't count toward seniority. I drop to the number 5 position. What's frustrating for me is that I'm being penalized for time spent outside the bargaining unit but all of my time spent in Flight Service was done before the 'bargaining unit ever existed. There was no bargaining unit to be outside of. Whatever.

I had a guy (Tom) from Duluth email me last week. He'd found our site and was interested in our stained glass work. We've exchanged a few emails as well as Flickr account addresses. He's a talented photographer and has an appreciation for stained glass but that's about all I know about him.

Tom is hoping to begin work on a stained glass project of his own but is having second thoughts about attempting it as it's a bit ambitious he thinks. He asked if I'd be interested in being his technical advisor on the project and offered to send me a couple prints of photos of his work which I admire as payment. The prints arrived today. I've never been a technical advisor but I'm currently a trainer for my trainee...Reid, who is a budding Air Traffic Controller.

I've got my RC plane assembled but I'm having trouble with the electronics portion of it. I made two trips to the hobby store today trying to get it running but it's still not right. While I was there I purchased RealFlight, a remote control flight simulator. The amount I spent on it will easily be made up in hopefully a lesser amount of crashed and ruined planes once I take this hobby live.

I'm fortunate to have my Congressman live just down the street from me. It's not something I want to abuse but there are times when I feel it's important to take advantage of that connection. I wrote a letter to President Bush tonight and I intend to deliver it to Mr. Kline tomorrow with hopes that he'll do what he can to see that it makes its way to the President's desk. Maybe I'm incredibly naive as to how the system works but here's my letter...

President Bush, January 4th, 2008

My name is Kevin Gilmore and I’ve been an Air Traffic Controller with the FAA for 26 years. I asked John Kline, my Congressman if he could possibly see that you receive my letter. Allow me to briefly say that I voted for you in both elections and I’ve been a strong supporter of you. Time and again I’ve posted comments of support on your behalf to message boards I frequent all the while taking a fair amount of heat in return…but I don’t mind. I do however feel that my trust in you has been abused as a federal worker and a union member.

For the 2nd year in a row, FAA management and staff personnel received the yearly Congressional raise while the men and women who make up the people in the trenches, the Air Traffic Controllers who put their careers on the line with every clearance they issue will receive no raise whatsoever.

If the goal was to get costs under control you have my support but I don’t see how that could possibly have been our goal when you’ve asked management to contribute nothing in the way of monetary sacrifice. It’s fundamentally wrong that people in management who fled the stress of the job as a Controller for a position in management are rewarded with yearly raises while those of us who accept the stress of the position are being put down and disrespected.

If your goal was to create a resentful, demoralized and bitter workforce, let me tell you that you have succeeded. I don’t mean to be glib but the hypocrisy we’re being subjected to is ridiculous and we deserve an explanation. Do you believe in leading by example? I respectfully request you to please ask your ATO leaders to begin to do exactly that because there is a serious disconnect occurring within FAA management in terms of leadership.

I recall the movie, We Were Soldiers Once. There was a riveting point in the movie where Mel Gibson (playing the part of Colonel Harold Moore about to lead his troops into battle) says, "But I swear this, before you and before Almighty God. When we go into battle, I will be the first to step onto the field and I will be the last to step off. And I will leave no one behind. Dead or alive we will all come home...together." Would you say that Mr. Sturgell is leading by example? Is anybody in FAA management leading by example? Not from my perspective.

President Bush, I implore you to put a stop to the hypocrisy which we’re being subjected to within the FAA. I request that you either freeze managements’ pay or allow Controllers the same raises until we come to an agreement. For the record, there was nothing fair about the negotiations which resulted in an impasse. Your side simply waited out the clock. Hardly a fair fight would you agree? Natca moved 1.9 billion dollars in your direction while management moved not one penny in our direction. What am I missing? This needs to be fixed and you have the power to do that.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I sincerely appreciate it.


Kevin Gilmore
xxxxx xxxxxxx Terrace West
Lakeville, MN 55044


John A Hill said...

Good letter. I look forward to seeing the reply.

Kevin Gilmore said...

John...thanks. If I hear anything back I'll be sure and post it here although I'm not very hopeful. I figure it can't hurt to try.

I'm an idealist at heart and sometimes to my undoing. I struggled with the last election as I was very conflicted. I never expected the degree of disrespect we as a workforce have been subjected to. I expected us as an agency to be in this together but we're so far from that idealistic thinking.

As I see it, the President sets the tone and that tone is crystal clear. Even with my tin ear I'm not that tone deaf.