Wednesday, October 22, 2008

ELECTIONS-The general election is coming up in about two weeks. Take time out of your busy schedule to vote. Your career depends on it, your family depends on it. Whatever your choice, you know the right one, get out and exercise your right to vote!! Early voting is available from the 21st at certain City Hale. That’s a good way to get your vote to count earlier.

LOCALITY-The lawsuit is having it share of problems and much of it revolves around the Senate Bill on COLA to Locality. The Locality Bill authored by Sen. Akaka passed the Senate with unanimous consent. This is very rare! The House is blocking the vote because of dissention voiced by Puerto Rico through the president of AFGE to their representative in Congress. When Congress comes back into session (date unsure) we will try to persuade the president of AFGE to not block it. If that is unsuccessful then we will lobby congress to not block the vote because of an extreme minor dissention. For now we are trying to get PR’s reasons for blocking and try to address their ignorance. There is a lot of support for the bill, but we have to get by this roadblock. The timeline is uncertain right now but I will update as I can. I have two telcons with the PR rep and the VP of both Alaskan region and the southeast region to try to sway their thinking and understand their concerns.

ANNUAL LEAVE- Paper Bid on Duty Time, Webschedule will be updated as soon as possible to use for reference. Weschedule is still used for your non vacation and spot requests through the “Request Leave” tab. You may elect to bid on non-duty time! Lets all try to push this thing through so we can make some plans with our families.

NON-VACATION REQUESTS-Non-vacation leave requests are for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th vacation bid rounds to allow you to get in line in the 4,5 or 6 slots per day to help you secure the day off if you were not able to get in the top three. It will also put you in position to request the 4,5 or 6 slot either in the beginning or end of your vacation to better match with your significant others vacation. The free for all will probably need to be delayed until 1/4/2009 because of the recent changes to the bid process.


CONTINUATION OF PAY (COP)- If you are involved in a serious accident you are entitled to COP. If as a result of the investigation your claim does not hold up, you will be required to pay back the time off. This is important to know because an employee of ours was involved in an accident where lives were lost through no fault of the employee. Management denied his request for COP saying his claim was denied. They also went on record saying that Mr. xxx has his/her own medical insurance, he can use that if he needs to. Is this the level of concern that this employer has for their employees.

CHRISTMAS PARTY-This years Christmas party is on Tuesday, Dec.16, 2008.We are attempting to give different people the ability to attend the party by moving it through out the week. Through the shirt sales (mahalo to Jimmy, Rosa and Thom) we have raised $1200.00 and through the recycling effort we have raised another 200.00. This all will go to helping with the party. If you have any input, please let Poli, Shawn, Chad, Thom or myself know.

SHIRTS-We have a few shirts left for sale to our members at cost. (26.00)
The only remaining sizes are xxl, xxxl, med and sml. I’m sorry the prime sizes are not available, but the objective was to raise money for the Xmas party. I you are interested in a shirt we are considering having others made specifically for the facility. Please let one of the E- Board know and we will decide if we have enough interest to get it done.

I WILL PARTICIPATE…-As you know the requirement to say this has been removed. This is largely the result of your local attempting to convince management that it is a poor idea and being told that it was mandatory. Thinking the FAA has lost its mind; we followed up nationally and found out that we were only the 2nd of 3 facilities in the NATION doing it (the other two were smaller towers). Then we find out that it is not mandatory, approach our management team with this information and are told…”when my boss tells me he thinks its a good idea, I think it’s a good idea” and refuses to remove the requirement. Shortly after, the FAA rescinds the “guidance”. During our next meeting I thanked Mr. Rabideau for his part in removing the requirement and I was told: “If I had a choice it would still be implemented here”, by giving into the union, the FAA has just made it ok for them to complain and something will be done. Amazing!

TOWER STRIPS-The plus signs around the PDAR in HNL tower is the result of the PDC not being able to differenciate between the filed FP and the PDAR assigned. PDC is not reverse shade able and therefore the only way to identify the PDR is to use a character like +. The + signs let the program know that the PDR/PDAR is a revised routing and places it a different section of the PDC.

TRAINING-Remember to always give and receive OJT debrief sessions. It is a required part of training and the developmental deserve that process. For those that debrief on sector, you are taking away the trainees ability to ask questions and give feedback. Don’t cheat yourself and them out of this process. A training form and debrief should be completed each session. You should be allowed time each day for this to happen.

CLASS G AIRSPACE-Management is preparing a Class G Airspace briefing that highlites rules for airports like LNY, JRF, NGF, MKK, KOA, MUE. Be prepared to ask questions or challenge faulty procedures.

SPOUSAL BADGES-There has been a change to Hickam procedures regarding badges for spouses. It is going to require a more in-depth background check as well as a charge for the process, $15-25. They will require you to go to a criminal check website for a back ground check and SSN verification as well as the paperwork from the facility. The sites are:,, and
Let me know if you need more information.

WEBSCHEDULE-Webschedule has been a good tool for all of us to track and be accountable for requests, bids, swaps, etc…It has been somewhat of a disappointment in its limitations, speed and cumbersomeness. Overall though it provides us with a level of protection and accountability that helps us make things fair. UNTIL RECENTLY! Management recently made a phone call to someone outside the facility and wiped out all data for leave requested in 2009. They claim to have that right. They claim to have the right to alter data in ART also. Now I’m not so sure that the data in either of those two systems can be trusted. My recommendation to you is that after you bid A/L in webschedule, you print a copy of your SF-71 for your records. In case management decides to erase data, you will have a copy for your protection. It still has proven to be a valuable tool to keep everyone honest.

FATIGUE-The faa distributed some fatigue pamphlets to all. I haven’t been able to find who created these and from what source. It seems this was the product of a meeting created by the government to address fatigue. Instead of taking action to minimize the effects of fatigue, it seems they will just tell you how to change your life.

CONVENTION-I wanted to ensure that all of you know the level of work, personal time and money that goes into attending the convention. The amount of financing that the union was able to help with this year covered most of the airfare, but the hotel and any extras are out of pocket. The leave used is personal leave. The flight schedule alone traveling to the east coast and then coming right back to work is brutal. Its one thing for me to do it, it’s my job; for the others it’s strictly volunteer. The people that volunteered to go enabled me to conduct the business of the convention while they focused on selling Hawaii and selling the shirts that will allow us to help with the X-mas party. The whole contingent from Hawaii has a secondary purpose. We are there to engage and represent our facility on the national level. The national office knows who we are, they react when we speak or when we ask for something. This becomes even more important during this time of conflict. I appreciate those of you who work an extra shift to cover Thom, Jimmy and Rosa being gone. It is definitely a contribution to the Union.

NEW SUPERVISOR-Management removed Liane Hamamoto from the Island Area for a detail to become a supervisor without talking to or negotiating with NATCA. I am asking them to place her back on the schedule for the holidays to help with staffing. We’ll see if they share my same concern!

POWER OUTAGES-We have been plagued by power outages that affected the entire facility, one day and caused us to lose the OGG radar another. In both these instances the controllers involved acted with knowledge and professionalism. It continues to become obvious that the system would not run if not for the Air Traffic Controllers. Keep up the good work!

SOLIDARITY-I know it’s difficult for 90 strong-willed controllers who never make mistakes to agree on everything, but we are all in this together. We are here to help each other and make each other better. Always remember: Our solidarity is their enemy!

Monday, June 9, 2008

UPDATE 06/01/08

To:  Bargaining Unit Members                                                   6/1/2008

From:  Scott Sorenson – FacRep

Subject:   NATCA-HCF Update

ELECTIONS-Elections are complete and about 20% of the membership voted.  Either we didn’t have your correct addresses to send the ballots to or the level of indifference is huge.  These are tuff times but it will soon change.  Hopefully when the union is allowed equal footing and input, I can get more involvement from the membership.   Charlie Lee is the local treasurer, I remain the president, Chad Ashley and Thom Gurule are the VP’s and Marsha is the secretary.  I think we have a great team, passionate, knowledgeable and willing to work.  Although we are the elected officers, it is our belief that the members are the ones who run the union.  It is my job to take a direction that is shared by the majority of the membership.  Don’t hesitate to share ideas or opinions with us.    

SECRETARY-Marsha will be leaving us soon for the Seattle area.  Because of the work involved in moving her family, she has asked that we find a replacement for her position.  I am looking for a volunteer that would like to fill the position of secretary for our local until 5/31/2009.   The Secretary is part of the team effort and aside from helping take minutes the secretary can and should be an integral part of the decision making process.  If you are interested, please let me or one of the other officers know within the next 2 weeks.  If you would like to know the duties of the secretary, ask me.

POLITICAL ELECTIONS-This September is the primary elections and the general are in November.  Make sure you all get out and vote.  Keep in mind the mess we’re in now when you consider who to vote for.  If any new controllers need help registering let me know so I can point you in the right direction.

S1300- NATCA continues to work, nationally, to get the Senate to pass this bill so we can take it to committee.  I will be providing all of you a petition, in your mail box, to be signed by your friends, family and neighbors aimed at convincing Senator Inouye to push S1300 through the Senate.  According to NATCA national, he seems to be one of the key persons stalling progress.  I have been asked to get 200+ signatures to submit to the Senator.  Please take this petition home and get at least 5 signatures each; If you can get the full ten or more, even better.  This is time critical, so please return the signatures to me by next week, if possible.   

FLSA LAWSUIT-the lawsuit is proceeding and it looks favorable for NATCA.  The most tangible effect is the proper pay-out of Credit, Comp and Overtime.  Not sure of the exact details yet but you will know when I do. Contrary to some rumors there will be no loss of accumulated credit or comp as a result of this lawsuit.  You will be compensated according to law when the suit is settled.

LOCALITY-This lawsuit is in the middle of mediation.  That is actually a positive step.  I don’t have any details on how the mediation is going but expect some soon. Senator Akaka, Inouye, Stevens and Murkowski’s bill to covert Cola to Locality is getting some hearing time in Hawaii this week.  There is a lot of good testimony and support for a fair and equitable transition for the non-conus federal employees.  The lawsuit and this bill seem to be working together to push a resolution for both retired and current employees that will not force someone to work an additional duration to receive the benefit. 

KONA-I have been talking to a representative from Hirono and Inouye’s office to ask for there intervention to help make Kona safer.  I recommended an approach control, a FAA tower and longer hours of operation.  I still need occurrences of safety issues at Kona.  I need to convince them that this is a regular occurrence.  I realize the no harm no foul mentality; however safety needs to trump budget and it won’t if we don’t say anything!

DETAILED TAXI-This ranks as one of the most ridiculous moves by the FAA yet.  Even more stupid is the lack of accountability of the operators both for read-back and for deviations.  What this does is make the controllers solely responsible and takes away the safety chain that read-backs are suppose to enhance.  My advice:  for aircraft, if you need a specific route for traffic make sure you get an accurate read-back.  Don’t let the acft move until you do.  Make sure you get the hold short read-back.  For vehicles, when you issue a clearance whether its approved as requested or detailed, make sure you state to “remain clear of taxiing aircraft and active runways”.  If you don’t and something happens, whether it’s the operators fault or not, you may have liability because you issued the clearance on the specific route.  There is action being taken by NATCA but until something changes CYA!  If aircraft or vehicles have to wait to ensure their safety, that’s how it has to be.

ASSIGNED ALTITUDE-Recently management approached me about a concern from a controller that the assigned altitudes were disappearing on some of the aircraft departing JRF, HHI and over flying HNL.  I told them it was a known problem and that I would support TRACON re-entering the assigned altitude prior to hand-off to Island Approach.  Debbie told me she would do more research with AOS to see what the problem was and get back to me.  She never did and put the control sheet out requiring either assigned altitude or IFR/VFR in the scratch pad or verbal coordination.  Since then I have got it corrected to just the assigned altitude is to be entered by TRACON.  My reasoning for this is that, as a radar controller, altitude and assigned altitude are the two most important bits of information used to determine potential conflict.  As a busy radar controller you need the information available to you on the display, you don’t always have the luxury of using the strips or a d-side to update them.  This is a software issue and can be fixed however we need ADR’s to be turned in to either me or management so that we can trace the problem and fix it.  Until then we help our brothers and sisters by giving them the benefit of an accurate radar display.

HCF TOWER/RADAR SIMULATOR-HCF is getting a Tower Simulator, which is suppose to be state of the art, and a PC based radar simulator for refresher type training that sets up a problem, grades you based on .65 rules and prints out a training form with paragraph references.  This will mean some movement of walls in the facility and the loss of the computer room and the library (haunted).  I am working on moving the library books to existing break rooms as well as placing computers for use in break rooms and in the operational area, away from the operation.  In my opinion, having these simulators gives our facility more function and credibility and therefore more sustainability.  In other words, it helps preserve what we have.

CONGRESSMAN ABERCROMBIES VISIT-Congressman Abercrombie came to the facility for a visit this past Thursday.  Thanks to Jimmy for extending the invitation to him the last time he went to Washington.  The meeting was great from our standpoint.  Neil asked all the right questions and made all the right statements.  He is a friend of labor and a friend of NATCA and our local.  To quote Congressman Abercrombie: “it’s all going to change in November”.

CONGRESSMAN ABERCROMBIE’S BIRTHDAY-We have a table for 10 at the Congressman’s Birthday on June 30, 2008.  As usual I would like to solicit volunteers to attend this function on behalf of NATCA.  Please notify Jimmy or one of the E-board if you would like to attend.  The invitation is on the right.

RECYCLING EFFORT-The balance in the account is up to $124.71.  This has been accomplished with minimal contributions.  The cafeterias recycle effort plus contributions by Clyde, Charlie, Al and I got us to where we are now.  If everyone was to help and bring the stuff from home or whatever is in the back of your car.  It would add up.

RDO ASSIGNMENTS-Management has begun assigning the newly certified CPC to the crew they trained on as a CPC.  They will only bid a slot if it is needed to balance the crews.  This is a change and circumnavigates the seniority process by not allowing other CPC’s to bid on a newly created CPC slot.  We have filed a grievance on this process but that will take some time.  We have offered and they have agreed to moving people based on voluntary moves but the key is that none of the A/L is protected.  I don’t mind doing the work to find out where everyone wants to move; however usually that means that someone (probably the junior CPC) will be bumped and that persons leave will not be covered.  The union will not agree to purposely harm a bargaining unit member even if it is trying to correct a management injustice.  So if we come to you to work on RDO swaps and it ends up where one member gets adversely affected, we will not be accomplishing those swaps.  

LOCALITY-It continues to progress through both the lawsuit and the legislative process.  We are trying to work one with the other.  If we are able to get the legislative effort to include language for the retired employees, the lawsuit can be dropped.  This issue is being worked through Senator Akaka and Inouye’s office.  They want to resolve this issue this legislative session.  

PAY-Please continue to check your pay stubs.  The errors that are continuing to happen are with overtime.  Holiday, Sunday, Differentials are not usually a problem, mostly the unusual like overtime and credit.    

KONA AIRPORT-Keep reporting problems at Kona and be sure to notify the union also.  As the political climate changes in Washington, we need to position our safety issues at the top.

RETIREMENT BRIEFING- The retirement briefing for the 5th and 6th will be in the Hibiscus Suite of the Hilton Hawaiian Village (4th floor Kalia Tower conference rooms). 


As Congressman Abercrombie said; it will all change beginning in November.  Keep the faith!