Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Moving Forward

I've done my share of bashing FAA management the past few years and for those who have been following along and are interested there has been some movement with respect to our lack of a contract. Our union, Natca, met with FAA management last month at President Obama's direction to try and come to an agreement as we're currently operating without a contract although management says we have one. Agreement was reached on the vast majority of issues but the most important one, dealing with pay, ended in impasse and was sent to arbitration.

Arbitration was all we ever wanted; our day in court to be heard. We had that.

The arbitrators came back with their decisions last week. I thought I'd sit down sooner than this to blog about it but I couldn't seem to muster the interest to do so. Not that I'm all that jazzed to blog about it now but it's an important footnote to have in my blog for years from now when I'm looking back on my writings and reminiscing on my life that was. I don't have much to say other than I'm glad that this is behind us and we can now begin the process of moving forward rather than continuing on this road we've been traveling for three years.

A day or two before the decision was released I penned this post on our union's forum...

"One thing I'd like to see in the arbitrators' decision would be a rebuke of FAA management and how they've disrespected the workforce the past several years or better yet, a suggestion from them that key people involved in the development of our current culture be demoted or fired.

A guy can dream, can't he?

Kevin g"

I really wasn't expecting this but in their decision the arbitrators begin their introduction with the following rebuke of FAA management...just as I'd hoped for.

In 2006, these parties failed in an attempt to achieve a mutually bargained successor to the then-existing “Green Book”. Subsequently, management imposed its own version of all conditions of employment. That so-called “White Book” contained numerous provisions that served, from 2006 to 2009, as the terms and conditions of employment for bargaining unit employees; ranging from the trivial to the essential. Some provisions addressed work rules related to the daily business of running this highly complex shop. Others were economic take-backs, in the name of fiscal prudence, that constituted unprecedented draconian reductions in compensation, bordering on the unconscionable.

The “WhiteBook” included the following preamble, evidently imported wholesale by the Agency from the negotiated 2003 (“Green Book”) Labor Agreement:

"This Collective Bargaining Agreement is designed to improve working conditions for air traffic controllers, traffic management coordinators/specialists and US NOTAM Office (USNOF) specialists, facilitate the amicable resolution of disputes between the Parties and contribute to the growth, efficiency and prosperity of the safest and most effective air traffic control system in the world.

The true measure of our success will not be the number of disagreements we resolve, but rather the trust, honor and integrity with which the Parties jointly administer this Agreement."

This hortatory language, stands as a monument to wishful thinking. Among other things, unilateral imposition of this document generated more than 450,000 grievances which, to this day remain unresolved.

Whatever else may be said of the White Book document, it is neither a “Collective Bargaining Agreement” nor an “Agreement.” The abrupt imposed changes in working conditions from the collectively negotiated Green Books to the unilateral White Book was so profound, and spawned so much hostility and distrust, that the labor-management relationship since has degenerated into a state of dysfunctionality.

Their words summed up nicely a most difficult culture that those of us in the trenches have had to stomach the last three years. One would think with words such as the above that the arbitrators would then take the next step and right the wrongs that were imposed on us but they didn't. Rather, we'll be getting yearly raises once again beginning with the new year instead of two more years of frozen wages.

I should probably be upset that my base pay wasn't restored to what it should be, some 15k more than it currently is but I'm not. I can move forward knowing that this is the way the world sometimes works and that life isn't fair. It wasn't everything I/we wanted but it's the process we asked for and were given. It's done. What would make this better would be a freezing of managements' wages for the next three years just to make it fair but I've got better things to do than fight for that. I'll still take my occasional jabs at FAA management but I'm ready to move on.

I've got my faith, family, health and a great job in an uncertain world. To dwell on the negative now would be wrong.


Spinning Hat said...

Keving, I have to say that is the most common sense take on what happened with the arbitration award that I've seen. Paul over at the Follies hit it right on as well. I have to say, I am glad to see what happened now that I have a report date to the Academy, and I can plan what's going to happen a little better. I think things ahould have gone a little more NATCA's way, especially with the scathing comments of FAA management from the panel, but I guess it's all water under (or over) the bridge.

Pdog said...

He He He... He said "bridge". I hope we are through building bridges with these jokers. They should be the ones building the next "bridge to nowhere".

I would love to move forward and have things back to the way they were but I have a feeling our illustrious manager might have something to say about that.

Spinning Hat said...

I recieved a call today that's pushing my report date to the Academy back.. Something about 3 class dates got cancelled... I report the day after Thanksgiving, and will be to ZMP Sometime in April after ERAM and URET training. I go into this knowing what's happened, but still with measured excitement. Here's to hoping things DO go back to the way things were...

Kevin said...

From what I hear the academy isn't a screen the way it used to be. It's my understanding that 90+% of the class will make it through and on to their facility. Even once you get to your facility it seems that most of the failures are happening down on the floor rather than in the labs prior to the floor. There are positives and negatives to that depending on your perspective.

Be glad you'll be receiving per diem while you're down there and know that management would rather you didn't even though they were paid it when they were in your shoes.

Best wishes.

Spinning Hat said...

Thanks. I am well aware of the per diem issue, I have several friends who're working now, and did not get per Diem at the Academy at all, so I am thankful for it, but I think my wife might be more so than me. :D When I was in college, we all trained like we were preparing for the screen; our instructor was an Ex PATCO controller, and he taught as if were at the Academy.. He was a brilliant guy, best college professor I'd ever had. I enjoy a challenge. What fun would it be if it wasn't?