- Published: April 29, 2020
PASS Sisters and Brothers:
We have moved into a new phase of communications with the FAA during the pandemic. Unless there is an urgent issue, our scheduled phone calls will take place just once a week. This will be increased if necessary and we continue to be in immediate communication if there are any positive tests in a facility. Of course, we continue to share your submitted concerns with agency leadership and our form is still available for you to use.
On today’s call we discussed concerns many have expressed regarding a return to work. This will likely be a phased approach to having employees return to their regular reporting locations; however, the FAA is not prepared to begin this approach to date. We have all heard media reports about some states lifting their shelter-at-home restrictions to try to get the economy moving. And there are questions swirling around what the federal government might do. As we reported last week, the Office of Personnel Management released a series of frequently asked questions about the general guidance that has been issued thus far.
To be clear, no changes are expected at the FAA in the next few weeks and there is no set date for lifting telework or resuming a normal maintenance schedule. As you heard from Administrator Dickson last week, “Our return to work will be conditions-based, and not time-based. We are absolutely not rushing into this.” We have reiterated that we need be involved in these discussions.
Virtual New Hire Orientations: With in-person new hire orientations on hold for the foreseeable future, PASS made it clear that we need to be included in any virtual onboarding sessions. We reminded the agency that under our collective bargaining agreements, the union is guaranteed two hours to meet with new hires, and reps at the local level have up to an hour to meet with any employees who are new to a facility or office. This will likely need to occur virtually and we are discussing how to make this happen.
There are also concerns about new hires being behind the curve because they have been teleworking and not in the field working side-by-side with seasoned employees. In many cases, they have not been able to report in person to get a PIV card, preventing them from logging in to certain applications. We would like to have access to the new employees through their FAA emails and establish a consistent process for virtual onboarding. Some of our regional vice presidents will be working closely with the agency in this regard.
Arbitration Hearings and Certified Mail: We discussed the impact of the pandemic on scheduling arbitrations. We have already had to cancel scheduled arbitrations in both ATO and AVS because of the restrictions on travel. We are researching and pursuing alternative ways to conduct arbitration hearings such as through Zoom. This is even more difficult because the agency will not settle grievances that regard disciplinary actions after a final decision is made based on its flawed interpretations of the Executive Orders issued two years ago. Also, certain parts of the grievance process in the collective bargaining agreement require the parties to communicate by certified mail; we are in the process of negotiating alternative ways to meet this requirement such as email. We hope to have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in place soon that will resolve the issue.
Periodic Maintenance (PMs): Some new PMs have been added to the list of what needs to be done and nearly all PMs on the list are considered critical. They seem be getting done in a timely manner without requiring more employees to report and we want you to be able to maintain the recommended social distance in a facility. Critical PMs are being looked at from a system vulnerability aspect. Some might need to be turned back on if it there is a concern that the NAS could be in jeopardy. We have been told that STARS ‘dailies’ are permitted to be three days per week and clarification on that point should be online on the front page of TechNet and RMLS. Please let PASS know if you are being told differently.
Cleaning Supplies: Cleaning supplies should be arriving at your facilities with some regularity now. There have been some isolated concerns expressed about the amount and chemical makeup of some delivered products. Please let PASS know if supplies are inadequate in your facility or if you have other questions.
I want to reassure all of you that PASS will work tirelessly on your behalf to ensure your safety and that of your families as discussions continue about a return to work.