- Published: May 27, 2020
PASS Sisters and Brothers:
I hope you all had a restful Memorial Day weekend and were able to take time to honor the ultimate sacrifice made by the men and women of our armed forces throughout this nation’s history.
There were two important calls with the FAA today. The first was with the administrator who shared with PASS and other unions a preliminary plan from the Department of Transportation (DOT) for a phased return to facilities. We have been told the framework will be circulated to all DOT employees on Friday. However, we were informed that returning to facilities will be a phased approach and that there will not be an immediate return. Many questions still remain regarding the plan and we will continue to work with our agency counterparts to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all the employees we represent. Local health circumstances, the readiness of facilities and individual circumstances will all be assessed. Please note, there are no dates associated as of yet with a return to normal operations.
Use of masks in the workplace: We have asked for clarity on the use of masks in the workplace. In the preliminary report PASS saw today, DOT guidance is clear that employees are to be issued and to wear masks during the early phases of returning to work. Another 50,000 masks have been shipped to facilities as of Friday.
Telework/remote reporting: Many of you have expressed concern about returning to your facilities because of your own compromised health condition or that of a loved one. The FAA is taking a comprehensive look at telework over the last two months to see what has been successful and what areas need improvement. PASS will be involved as these assessments are being made. Please help with that by using our contact form to let us know how your telework situation has gone. We also discussed that employees who are being required to come to the office after teleworking for the past two months need to know who else has been in the local facility and if others are coming in at the same time to minimize your risk of exposure.
Leave for high-risk categories: There is still no FAA-specific guidance about leave for those of you at higher risk for exposure to the coronavirus. We are in discussion with the agency about what documentation may be required. This is an important issue and we are pressuring the agency for a plan.
Annual Leave/Use-or-Lose: We discussed today that some of you are being pressured to take annual leave or reschedule the leave you had to cancel. It was agreed that this crisis should have nothing to do with your personal decision to take your earned leave. No decision has been made on use or lose leave at the end of the year; that guidance will come from the Office of Personnel Management.
Maintenance: Thanks to those of you who have let the union know when you are being asked to perform noncritical maintenance. We raised this on the call today and have been assured that the focus on critical task remains for our employees, regardless of what changes may be made to air traffic controller schedules. ATO is not looking for you to deviate from the maintenance alerts in place at this time. Please continue to report any issues through our form.
Training: In-person training in Oklahoma City is not being included in the first phase of reopening: it won’t resume until the end of June or even later. We have expressed to the agency your concerns about being forced to use commercial air travel when in-person training resumes because of the exposure risks that may involve. We have also expressed a desire to increase virtual training to reduce time in Oklahoma City. Our Flight Standards employees have been notified that all in-person training and flying events have been cancelled through July 5.
Employee Assistance: This is a challenging time for all of us. Both parties discussed the availability of help not only through the agency's employee assistance program, Magellan Health, but also through the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) program. There will be more information on Magellan resources in tomorrow's PASS News Now. The PASS CISM team is available to you 24/7 (call or text: 631-485-2476).
Today PASS also conducted its first virtual new hire orientation for both AVS and ATO employees. PASS is guaranteed a two-hour session with new employees according to our collective bargaining agreements. In Oklahoma City, we are able to meet in person with new hires for two hours; obviously, we have had to make adjustments. With so many employees teleworking, it is difficult to get them on a Zoom call even though it is a mandatory part of their orientation. We raised this issue on our afternoon call today and will continue discussions on how best to complete new hire orientation. Our national organizer, James Renaldi, who conducted the orientation today, has another list of 45 new employees for whom he will be conducting a briefing in the coming days.
I want to reassure you that we will not let the FAA rush into any arrangement for returning to your facilities that will jeopardize your health or that of your families.