PASS Participates in Mental Health & Aviation Summit

Last week, PASS National President David Spero participated in a summit held by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) entitled “Navigating Mental Health in Aviation.” The summit, hosted by NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy, featured two panels in the morning: one on first person accounts of navigating the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s approach to mental health; the second featured FAA officials and mental health care providers. President Spero was part of the afternoon roundtable with other aviation labor leaders on “The Future of Mental Health: Where Do We Go From Here?”

He noted that the FAA recently established the Mental Health and Aviation Medical Clearances Rulemaking Committee (ARC)” and in advocating for PASS participation on that committee, President Spero said, “We represent aviation safety inspectors who create policy on these issues, they investigate accidents and incidents, and they educate the public.” Their expertise and experience will prove valuable to the ARC. But, Spero continued, “there’s got to be some things that happen now to get through the bureaucracy that we’re dealing with at the FAA.”

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Government Shutdown Will Introduce Risk into the National Airspace System

David Spero, National President of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS), AFL-CIO, released the following statement regarding the government shutdown’s impact on aviation safety:

“Once again Congress is missing funding deadlines for the federal government and as of midnight, September 30, the 11,000 employees we represent at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will either be furloughed or working without pay. Reductions in staffing, training, modernization and oversight from these dedicated public servants will introduce risk into the National Airspace System (NAS). In addition, Congress has failed to act on FAA Reauthorization, which also expires tomorrow night.

“Roughly 2,200 aviation safety inspectors will be off the job. These PASS-represented employees in the FAA’s Office of Aviation Safety are responsible for the oversight, certification and surveillance of the entire American aviation system, including all general aviation and commercial aircraft, pilots and flight instructors, and repair stations both in this country and abroad. Furloughing the majority of this critical workforce just as the aviation industry has rebounded from the pandemic is neither in the best interest of the nation’s economy nor the oversight of the U.S. aviation system.

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Nomination of Mike Whitaker as FAA Administrator

PASS welcomes the news that the Biden Administration has put forth a nominee, Mike Whitaker, to lead the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as the next administrator. It is long past due that the FAA have a permanent leader, especially as Congress has taken up legislation to re-authorize the agency for another five years. In addition, PASS is currently in negotiations for two collective bargaining agreements with the FAA and hopes for a swift confirmation process.

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PASS Concludes Successful Convention

This week, PASS held its constitutional convention in Steel Town, aka Pittsburgh, PA! As a nod to the union steelworkers who built the city’s economy, the convention theme was “Forging our Future.”

“We are here to build PASS into a Great Union and Forge our Future,” said National President Dave Spero in his opening remarks. “We are here because we care,” he continued. “Not only for our union, but for the working families we represent daily. We care about assuring that good federal jobs are available for the next generation.”

National Secretary-Treasurer Carlos Aguirre reflected on his own union background and his parents, who came to the U.S. from Ecuador in the 1950s. They both joined unions. “To them, being part of a union meant having a good paying job, one that paid decent wages in order to raise a family,” Aguirre said. “It meant saving for a nice vacation every once in a while. It meant being able to save for a down payment to buy a house and having a pension to carry you in retirement.”

The union also paid tribute to its founding president, Howard Johannssen, who passed away in October 2022.

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PASS Calls Out the FAA for Contract Violation

Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sent a video message from its Management Board to employees—including the approximately 11,000 FAA employees PASS represents—telling them that they will need to return to the office a set number of days per pay period beginning October 9. This was a clear violation of the collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) that PASS has with the agency.

The union was misled early last week when a senior labor relations official informed PASS that a notice would be forwarded to unions prior to an announcement to employees. “This would have allowed us the opportunity to clarify to upper management that this message conflicts with our CBAs and to bargain if necessary over the matter,” said PASS National President Dave Spero. Instead, the message was sent directly to employees, bypassing the unions who represent them. PASS finds it disingenuous that management stated in the video that FAA leadership is committed “to work closely and thoughtfully with all of you [employees] and our labor partners during this process.” That didn’t happen.

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