- Published: July 01, 2020
PASS Brothers and Sisters:
We reported to you last week that training for Tech Ops employees was supposed to resume next week, which PASS has expressed serious concerns about. After much pushback while cases of COVID-19 are continuing to spike in many parts of the country, including Oklahoma, the agency has decided to delay training for at least another two weeks. The union’s position is that training should be delayed until all the criteria the FAA is monitoring in its dashboard for the phased reopening of facilities is met. This is also in keeping with Administrator Dickson’s message to employees dated June 26: “Data is guiding us in our Roadmap to Recovery. Our decisions are conditions-based, not time-based and we’re focused on data, not dates.” It is clear that the data about the pandemic does not warrant resuming in-person training.
Although ATO is in critical need of some training (for example, ERAM, ACEPS, VSCS, MEARTS), the agency told us today that it is looking at alternate delivery methods, which could include using multiple methods for a course (eLMS, instructor video, simulations) or breaking out classroom instruction from OJT to shorten time at the Academy. It is clear to PASS that online training for you can be successful: some classes that were paused due to the pandemic were completed using Zoom and the agency is evaluating the results. Talks will continue around in-person training. Which in-person classes will need to be restarted and who will be enrolled may change as facility priorities evolve.
PASS recognizes that training is an important component of career development and promotional opportunities and that many of you are eager to get to these classes. However, PASS believes that attendance at in-person training should be voluntary so that you can make the best decision to protect you and your families.
Other topics discussed today:
Facility preparedness: As the agency continues on its phased return to normal operations, it is reviewing the readiness of each facility to bring back employees. Vice President of Technical Operations, Jeff Planty (in his role as the Designated Agency Safety and Health Official) will issue new guidance for facilities once it is approved by the national Occupational Safety, Health, and Environmental Compliance Committee (OSHECCOM). As with training considerations, the alarming spike in COVID-19 cases in the country must be considered when recalling employees to a workplace. We suggested today that restricting movement of employees in facilities should be considered since personal behavior outside of work (gathering in large groups, not wearing masks or social distancing) seems to be causing most of the positive cases in the workplace, not exposure in the facility itself. The agency is considering plans to make the wearing of face coverings mandatory.
Non-critical work: Many of you have reported to PASS that managers are still not using common sense during the pandemic and assigning projects, such as carpet replacement or grounds maintenance, that are completely unnecessary and increase your risk of exposure. We were assured that written guidance is being developed on prioritizing work or projects that the agency wants to re-start—managers are using the lack of such guidance as an excuse to assign this work. Please continue to report these incidents so that PASS can address them in real time with the agency.
High-risk employees: PASS continues to raise concerns that there is no standardized application by management when dealing with an employee who identifies as high risk and needs to remain on telework. We believe that a note from your doctor that confirms you are in such a category should be sufficient to keep you in a telework status. We will continue to work this issue with the agency but please let PASS know if your manager does not accept a doctor's note to keep you on telework.
PASS will continue to prioritize your health and safety and that of your families as the agency moves forward with training and with the return to normal operations. For those of you who will be working this holiday weekend, thank you for being on the job for your fellow citizens. I hope all of you can get some well-deserved rest or celebrate Independence Day in a way that is safe.