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NATCA’S Minnesota Members Are Ready for the Super Bowl of Air Traffic Control

MINNEAPOLIS – National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) represented air traffic controllers, traffic management coordinators, and staff specialists in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region are ready for one of the biggest challenges of their careers – safely and efficiently handling the large amount of air traffic headed into and out of the area for Super Bowl LII weekend.

It’s the Super Bowl of ATC, and it has begun already at airports across the region. The heaviest amount of arriving traffic is expected today, with steady streams of aircraft to follow on Saturday and early on game day Sunday. Then, immediately after the game, controllers and the teams of aviation safety professionals at each facility will work to safely handle the flow of departing aircraft.

“On behalf of the NATCA members at Minneapolis Air Traffic Control Tower (MSP), we look forward to the challenge that the increased volume of traffic for the Super Bowl will bring,” MSP NATCA Facility Representative Thayer Davis said. “MSP NATCA members Pete Dwyer, Audrey Dorf, and Allison Palmer have worked tirelessly in collaboration with FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) leadership to plan for the increased volume and demand this event will bring while keeping safety as our number one priority.”

“Our facility never closes,” Davis added. During the Super Bowl traffic period, MSP will have increased controller staffing on all shifts including doubling the staffing of the overnight shift on the evening Feb. 4 after the game ends to ensure all aircraft safely travel to and from Minneapolis.

MSP will be using Runways 4/22 for parking aircraft coming in just for the game. Other airports around the region, including Flying Cloud, St. Paul Downtown, Mankato, Rochester, Anoka County-Blaine, and many more, will handle many dozens of aircraft and have plans in place for landing reservations and areas in which to park on the airport surface.

While air traffic controllers at many facilities across the country often work extra air traffic during big events, such as college football games, golf tournaments, motorsports races, general aviation fly-ins, and more, it is the Super Bowl that is annually one of the most high-profile demonstrations of air traffic control planning and skill. Preparations for this weekend began well over a year ago and the Minneapolis NATCA-FAA Super Bowl team learned key lessons from the experience of the Houston team a year ago which performed extraordinarily well to handle Super Bowl LI.

“We learned a lot from Houston about speed control, anticipated traffic counts, and staffing demands,” said Minneapolis TRACON (M98) member and facility Super Bowl committee lead Daniel Last, who added that preparations included testing the facility’s route structure and acceptance rates. “We are mitigating traffic off our outlining airports with independent routes to let MSP traffic run unabated. One year of planning now comes down to five days of implementation. Our controllers are ready to perform at our highest level. We are ready!”

Extra traffic above last year’s levels are expected in Minneapolis due to the presence of teams from New England and Philadelphia, two very busy markets for private and business aircraft. An extra 1,100 to 1,600 private aircraft are expected to transport Super Bowl fans to the Twin Cities region this week.

It will also be a busy weekend for Minneapolis Center (ZMP), the regional en route radar facility that is responsible for the airspace over much of the northwest Great Lakes and northern Great Plains region. All aircraft entering and departing the Minneapolis region will be handled by the ZMP team of safety professionals. ZMP will work closely with NATCA-represented traffic management coordinators at the FAA Command Center in Virginia, which is responsible for national air traffic flows and planning.

ZMP FacRep Tony Walsh credited the great work of ZMP member Jeff St. Germain, who with his FAA counterpart Sean Fortier facilitated much of the Super Bowl preparation at the facility.

“The aviation safety professionals at Minneapolis Center are well prepared for the additional traffic volume during the Super Bowl and surrounding events,” Walsh said. “In addition to the normal daily air traffic, ZMP is expecting to see an increase of over 2,500 flight operations with the arriving and departing Super Bowl air traffic.”

NATCA Condemns Shutdown That Harms The National Airspace System

Stable, Predictable Funding For National Airspace System Is Essential

WASHINGTON – National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) President Paul Rinaldi and Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert issued a statement this morning condemning the shutdown of the federal government now underway, calling it the clearest proof that the status quo is broken, and a stable, predictable funding stream for the National Airspace System is essential:

“A government shutdown harms the National Airspace System (NAS). Employees, such as air traffic controllers, who are required to work during the shutdown don’t know when they will receive their next paycheck. They cannot be paid until the government is again able to expend funds.

“Making matters worse, these employees won’t have the support for them and their team that is so important in making the system work well. While all NATCA members perform duties that are critical and essential to the NAS, more than 3,000 NATCA-represented employees have been furloughed. These furloughed members work across our bargaining units at air traffic control and other FAA facilities. They are among the hundreds of thousands of federal employees negatively affected by the government shutdown. When these professionals are prohibited from working as a result of political brinksmanship, the flying public and the NAS suffer.

“Whether the shutdown lasts one hour, one day, one week, or more, it reinforces our strong belief that the status quo is broken. The NAS requires a stable, predictable funding stream in order to adequately support: air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training, long-term modernization projects, preventative maintenance, ongoing modernization to the physical infrastructure, and the timely implementation of NextGen modernization projects. The NAS continues to be challenged by the lack of a stable, predictable funding stream. The constant funding crises that arise from stop-and-go funding continue to wreak havoc on our system and perpetuate the current staffing crisis, which has resulted in a 29-year low of certified professional controllers.

“We will not rest until Congress ends the shutdown. In the long term, we will continue to advocate for the kind of change that will ensure the NAS has a stable, predictable funding stream for years to come.”

Mixed Reactions To 5 Month Government Funding Bill

The Senate passed the Omnibus Spending bill that will keep the government open for another five months.  The bill moves to the White House where President Trump is expected to sign it.   Before and after the bill’s passage advocacy groups were split on whether to support or oppose the bill.

Prior to the vote, the Transportation Trades Department (TTD-AFLCIO) urged Congress to support the legislation highlighting some of the funding gains for our nation’s infrastructure.

“We applaud Congress for coming together to complete an omnibus appropriations bill that funds critical transportation investments, rejects anti-worker riders, and avoids a needless government shutdown. We urge lawmakers to swiftly pass this legislation.

“This bill lives up to the authorized funding commitments in the FAST Act for mass transit and highway programs funded out of the Highway Trust Fund. And we applaud appropriators for funding a series of key projects with Capital Investments Grants (CIGs), which play an important role in meeting transportation challenges around the country.

“Congress is also reaffirming its support for Amtrak by funding the company’s needs at near-authorized levels as directed by the FAST Act. This decision by appropriators sends a clear, bipartisan signal that Congress supports a national passenger rail network that serves both rural and urban communities.

“This legislation also endorses full funding for the Maritime Security Program (MSP), which is vital to maintaining our military’s sealift capability during times of war and humanitarian missions. Adequate funding for MSP ensures the Department of Defense does not have to rely on foreign-flag ships, keeps taxpayer costs down, and supports thousands of middle-class U.S. mariner jobs.

“We also applaud the robust funding levels in this bill for FAA operations, Next-Gen improvements to our air traffic control system, and airport improvement grants. These funds support the safest and most efficient air system in the world, and the workers who make it possible.

“With the passage of this bill, over 22,000 retired coal miners and their families will maintain critical health care that was promised to them by mining corporations that exploited bankruptcy laws in order to avoid their moral obligation.”

David J Cox, President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) also praised the legislation and urged its passage to avoid another government shutdown.

“I applaud Congress for coming together on a bipartisan bill that will keep the people’s government open for business through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. I urge lawmakers to quickly pass this budget and avoid a government shutdown at the end of the week.

“In reaching this agreement, lawmakers wisely rejected billions of dollars in harmful cuts to medical research, education programs, housing grants, and other domestic programs that were proposed by the Trump administration. Those who need our help the most would have been hit the hardest by these cuts, and Congress was right to reject them.

“This budget provides needed funding to strengthen our military, improve border security, and boost cancer research. It also permanently extends health care benefits to 22,000 retired coal miners who were in danger of losing their coverage.

“I also thank Congress for retaining the longstanding ban on contracting out federal jobs using the flawed A-76 outsourcing process. Taxpayers benefit when federal jobs are performed by civil service employees, who are less costly and more accountable than private-sector workers.”

After the bill passed the Senate, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) praised the bill’s additional funding to combat the growing opioid epidemic.

“More help is on the way for those on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic,” said Shaheen. “This funding can’t come soon enough to states like New Hampshire that are reeling from the opioid epidemic. Treatment providers and first responders are in desperate need of these additional resources and until we get control of this crisis, I’ll continue to fight for funding to support their life-saving efforts. I’m relieved that Congress continues to build on bipartisan progress made over the last year to address this epidemic. However, I continue to be very concerned that efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act will undo this progress. As our state battles one of the worst public health crises in its history, we cannot afford to lose the mental health and substance misuse treatment provided through this law, which is why I intend to work across the aisle to stop this repeal effort in its tracks in the Senate.”

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO was quick to condemn the bill as a giveaway to the Washington “special interests”.

“While the funding bill does provide assurance that we will have functioning government for the next five months, it undermines programs that help and empower working families. Our elected leaders have settled for a budget that underfunds our priorities and deepens austerity, setting the bar low. America’s working people deserve better.

Every time politicians take America to the edge of a government shutdown, working families pay the consequences. This irresponsible and dangerous political maneuvering should not be the norm.

Thankfully, House Democrats held the line against almost all of the poison-pill amendments and restored much of the funding that would have been cut under the administration’s original draconian budget proposal. As work begins on the 2018 budget, we call on politicians from both parties to put the needs of working families above the special interests.”

Paul Rinaldi, President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), has been outspoken about Congress’s inability to provide steady funding for the National Airspace System.

“NATCA is pleased Congress has passed an omnibus spending bill that will fund the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through the end of the current fiscal year. NATCA is especially appreciative that the FAA has received an increase in its operations budget. It should enable the FAA to move forward on key issues such as improving air traffic controller staffing and continuing to plan, develop, and implement the myriad of ongoing NextGen modernization projects.

“However, this bill only provides a short-term fix to a long-term problem – the unstable, unpredictable, stop-and-go nature of the current funding stream. The mere threat of a government shutdown causes agencies like the FAA to suspend and delay critical projects in preparation for a shutdown. That means progress is slowed, meetings are postponed, plans are put on hold, and the system suffers. It takes significant time and effort to bring a large agency to a halt, so that must begin before a shutdown even occurs, and it takes even more time to restart it again once a shutdown threat subsides.

“We believe the efficiency of the National Airspace System and the livelihoods of the men and women safeguarding it should not be negatively affected by disagreements over issues unrelated to aviation.

“We thank members of Congress for passing the omnibus funding bill and ask that they continue to address the need for long-term stability of the funding stream.”

Government Executive highlighted some of the other winners and losers in the omnibus spending plan including additional funding to the Defense Department and Transportation Department, and deep cuts to the Department of Education and the State Department.

The Hill highlighted a few other areas where Democrats preserved funding for key agencies and programs like Planned Parenthood, funding for Sanctuary Cities, and environmental protections.  While funding for Planned Parenthood was protected in the Onmibus spending bill, the US House passed their “repeal and replace” Obamacare bill that blocks funding for Parenthood.

Federal Unions Vow To Continue Fighting For Workers After Trump’s Election Win

Millions of Americans are still reeling from the results of the Presidential election.  All but one of the federal unions endorsed Clinton in the Presidential election and are continuing their efforts in spite of the heartbreaking loss.

American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) members have been fighting the Republican controlled Congress and their attacks on federal workers.  AFGE has spoken out against cuts to the VA and repealing members right to due process.

AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. vowed to continue fighting for workers rights and the protection of government services.

“The American people have spoken and elected Donald Trump as the next president of the United States. As public servants, federal employees work for the American people and will continue to carry out the missions of their agencies under the Constitution and law.

“AFGE will continue to fight for workers’ rights and for the programs and services government employees deliver for the American people. That never changes no matter who sits in the White House.

“We ‎will work with the Trump administration on areas of common ground, as we have with every administration for generations. AFGE remains the leading advocate on behalf of the federal workforce and the incredible service provided to our nation by the dedicated civil servants we represent.”

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) have also been outspoken in their opposition to cuts in the federal budget that have forced employee furloughs and government shutdowns.

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi and Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert pledge to continue to work toward a stable funding system for the National Airspace System that would remove the threat of forced closures and provide the agency the ability needed to address critical staffing issues.

NATCA remains cautiously optimistic that they will be able to work with President-Elect Trump to continue their collaborative efforts within the FAA and the Department of Transportation.

“We congratulate President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence on their victory.”

“Our National Airspace System (NAS) is the world’s safest and most efficient. It provides 11.8 million jobs and creates $1.5 trillion in total economic activity, contributing over five percent to the United States Gross Domestic Product. We look forward to working with the new Administration to secure a stable, predictable funding stream for the NAS. This will be essential to protecting the system and the workforce that safeguards it, while also implementing modernization efforts and providing air travelers the safety and professionalism they deserve.”

“We also look forward to working with the new Administration to further advance the tremendously successful collaborative relationship we’ve built with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation over the last eight years, which has yielded positive results for the American people.”

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, though disappointed in the outcome of the election, accepts the decision of the American people.  The AFL-CIO will attempt to work with President-elect Trump on issues of trade and restoring American manufacturing.

Donald Trump has been elected president. America is a democratic nation, and the voters have spoken. The AFL-CIO accepts the outcome of this election, and offers our congratulations to President-elect Trump. More than anything, this election is an indictment of politics as usual.

For too long, the political elites have embraced economic policies that hold down wages, increase inequality, diminish opportunity and ship American jobs overseas. Voters in both the primary and general election have delivered a clear message: enough.

The President-elect made promises in this campaign—on trade, on restoring manufacturing, on reviving our communities. We will work to make many of those promises a reality.  If he is willing to work with us, consistent with our values, we are ready to work with him.

But make no mistake, we can never back down from our values. The presence of racism, misogyny, and anti-immigrant appeals caused damage in this campaign and we must all try to repair it with inclusion, decency and honesty.

As we move forward, the labor movement is committed to defending our American democracy. Ultimately, the fundamental duty of America’s President, symbolized by swearing to uphold our Constitution, is to protect and preserve our democracy and the institutions that make it real.  We hope to work with President Elect Trump to help him carry out this solemn responsibility. Regardless, America’s labor movement will protect our democracy and safeguard the most vulnerable among us. 

This election is a statement about our broken economic and political rules. Therefore, the work of the labor movement continues with fresh urgency. The change voters cried out for in this campaign can be found by standing together in unions. The election is over. But we are more committed than ever to helping working people win a voice on the job and in our democracy.

We will never stop striving to represent everyone, fighting for basic human dignity, expanding our diversity and growing our ranks to give working people a strong, united voice.

Working people are in for a bumpy ride over the next few years.  We must stay vigilant and continue to organize to fight back against whatever President-elect Trump and his Republican controlled Congress throws our way.

Clinton Thanks NATCA After Endorsement Of A Clinton-Kaine Ticket

NATCA Clinton Kaine

Last month The National Air Traffic Controllers Association announced their endorsement Hillary Clinton for President of the United States and Tim Kaine for Vice President of the United States.

NATCA’s National Executive Board voted unanimously to endorse the Clinton-Kaine ticket after carefully considering how each of the presidential candidates’ records and statements, as well as their parties’ platforms, would affect its membership.

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi called Secretary Clinton “a strong advocate for working families who shares our commitment to ensuring that the National Airspace System (NAS) remains the safest, most efficient, most complex, and most diverse in the world.”

Rinaldi also praised Senator Kaine, calling him “a great friend to NATCA members during his time in the United States Senate.”

“Senator Kaine recognizes the need to ensure stable, predictable funding for the NAS so that we can remain the world’s leader in aviation,” Rinaldi said.

NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert said, “Secretary Clinton supported our members when she was a Senator from New York and was an advocate for employees’ rights as Secretary of State. She believes in organizing and collective bargaining, rights that are fundamental to all unions.”

“This is an election that presents a clear choice,” said Rinaldi. “Secretary Clinton and Senator Kaine will fight for our members’ rights and are committed to improving the infrastructure of the NAS so that our members operate with the best equipment and technology. They recognize the professionalism with which our members perform their duties, ensuring the safety of the flying public 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. NATCA proudly endorses Clinton-Kaine.”

Today, as the National Air Traffic Controllers Association’s hold their bi-annual convention in San Diego, Hillary Clinton issued the following statement:

“I would like to congratulate Paul Rinaldi and everyone with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association for a successful convention in San Diego.  I am honored to have earned the endorsement of this proud organization’s 19,000 members.

“Every day, hard-working and highly-skilled air traffic controllers keep our country moving, growing, and thriving.  Almost 900 million passengers travel by air in the United States each year, and NATCA’s members ensure we get to our destination safely—helping us take business trips, meet our families, and explore the country and the world.  And through it all, this organization has fought for good benefits and wages for all workers and helped build our country’s middle-class.

“As President, I will stand with NATCA and organized labor like I have my entire career.  My top priority will be building an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.  We will make the biggest investment in American infrastructure since the end of World War II—including in the National Airspace System.  We will defend the right to organize and bargain collectively and fight against right-to-work legislation that is wrong for workers and wrong for America.   And we will help workers retire with the dignity and security they have earned.

“If I am elected, American workers will always have a seat at the table and a champion in the White House—because when unions are strong, families are strong, and America is strong.”

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