Monday, April 7, 2008

Obstruction and contrariness

Ok, so I went to the thesaurus to get the antonym to collaboration and cooperation. I changed the first word when I read an e-mail from my good friend and former NATCA Vice-President Tom Cavanaugh. Today I was reminded that we have a very long road back to collaboration and cooperation, including at Albany.

There are a lot of things the manager at Albany Tower does not comprehend. Within the past two, we have called him out publicly for:

  • Informing his staff in person of an employee infected with MRSA, then posting the same information in the "non-mandatory" or "C" binder, which is rarely read.


  • Twice scheduling controllers for nine consecutive shifts without a day off.


  • Telling an employee that she had to secure a shift swap or he would deny her jury duty, then accusing the employee of "playing games" when she wasn't needed for jury service one day.

It would be laughable if it weren't so sad. Today, I found out that Albany was getting two new controllers. Unfortunately, I found out from my VP who found out from a non-union member who found out from a management official. I decided to ask the manager for an explanation before I approached his bosses once again. This manager proceeded to tell me of one new employee while acting like it was no big deal. When I explained (again) why it's important for the agency to comply with the law and not deal directly with the controllers, he responded by:

  • Explaining that they were trying to do right by this individual and now I was making a big deal out of nothing.


  • Blaming me for never being in the building (well, when he is – gee boss, I'll take more official time if that's what it takes – otherwise, feel free to drop in on the mid)


  • Stating that they only found out Friday.


  • Stating that he wasn't talking to the controllers (even though someone in management was).


  • Accusing me of trying to "make hay" out of every little issue on behalf of some issue outside of the building.


  • Finally, accusing me of being the problem in the building and stating that I "don't care about the employees at Albany.


To recap: I ask him why he did not inform me, the exclusive representative of the NATCA Albany Tower bargaining unit, that we were getting a new employee and suddenly I don't care about the employees at Albany. He even made light of the e-mails I had sent him, describing them in a whiny, baby like tone. Excellent interpersonal skills, boss!

Of course, I informed my RVP of all of this and he informed my manager's boss again. Folks, this is the antithesis to partnership. This is truly a relationship with no foundation of trust to build upon. From day one when I became the facility representative, I have approached this man with the olive branch. Day one he decided to go on and on about how bad the previous NATCA rep was (great way to forge a relationship – rail on my friend and union brother). Apparently, this man didn't have a problem with the former NATCA rep. This man has a problem with unions and with union people.

I have seen him put on a good face when his boss is in the building. Nevertheless, it seems that each time I brought an issue to him in a good faith effort to resolve it at the lowest possible level, I was met with charges that the air traffic controllers at Albany do things just as bad as their supervisors (seemingly to deflect criticism or to convince me to simply look the other way) and that I am just trying to make a name for myself or "make hay" for issues of national scope. My previous Vice-President, one of the more reasonable people you ever will meet, has hit the same brick wall. This manager will not even speak to my current Vice-President.

It is apparent that we are a long ways away from the days of QTP – from the days where labor and management worked together in earnest to solve problems. We are even beyond traditional labor-management relations, while uncomfortable at times, there is still dialogue in an effort to problem solve and negotiate. Today's environment is heavy-handed management with no regard for the union and the excuse factory when they get caught playing with their food.

One day we might have a labor-friendly President and a labor-friendly Congress. One day a President may actually reinstate partnership, much like President Clinton did in October of 1993 with Executive Order 12871. At that time, we are going to have to find that foundation of trust again, begin to assume the other party is properly motivated and get down to working in the best interests of the bargaining unit. Until then, we are left to sort through the lies, deceit and end-runs of this crowd who carries the anti-labor water for the Bush Administration. I'm sure Albany is moving up the speed dial at the regional office!

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