In This Issue:
Colorado Members Keep NAS Safe
During Close Call With Wildfires
California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington are enduring a fire season of historic proportions. In the last Insider, we provided you with information about the fires occurring in California, Oregon, and Washington. Because of recent events, we wanted to also share news about the fires and our members in Colorado.
Conditions have been hot, dry, and dangerous. Much of the region is facing some level of drought. The dry conditions, coupled with lightning storms, have led to some of the largest fires in Colorado history. This year, fires have occurred in areas that don’t usually burn. Smoke impacts everyone, leading to eerie orange skies, and if the winds change, the danger for the public can be immediate. The CalWood fire grew to more than 8,000 acres in under 12 hours last week, coming as close as 6.5 miles from Denver Center (ZDV) in Longmont, Colo. Controllers could see the fire from the facility.
Good news arrived last weekend in the form of snow and cold temperatures. There was no fire growth on Monday, Oct. 26 and the moisture will likely calm the fires for at least a couple days and perhaps into next week, fire officials said. But the region remains on high alert.

“The conversation has been going all week as to what happens if we get evacuated at the center due to these fires as well as trying to assist controllers that need help,” said ZDV FacRep Megan Nowak.

The Colorado fires have come very close to several controllers' homes. Some NATCA members can see flames from their patios. 

“This is a very real threat and the controllers are not only making it to work to keep the NAS safe, but also taking precautions to keep their families safe at home and evacuate if needed,” Nowak said. “We also have controllers that experienced severe flooding in 2013 and now are concerned about losing their homes to these fires.”
Extra efforts of vigilance have been utilized to protect arrivals in all of the states affected by wildfires, as flights have been forced into converging situations in multiple locations due to the aircraft having to stay higher than normal because of the haze. 

“With the mountainous terrain, ZDV has a TFR that goes up to 16,500 for the fires and is in conflict with the descend via on the arrivals into Denver ATCT (DEN),” Nowak said. “This is requiring extra clearances for the controllers to stop them above. The firefighting aircraft, being as high as they are in the TFR, is an additional thing for the controllers to watch while working a busy arrival bank into DEN.”

If you missed the coverage in the last Insider about how NATCA members have helped with efforts to battle fires in California, Oregon, and Washington, you can read that article here.
A Message From the Disaster Response Committee: Support our Ongoing Efforts
Sisters and Brothers,

We – as members of the Disaster Response Committee (DRC) – are asking you for your help. This year continues a full court press on the lives of our membership. From wildfires on the West Coast, a derecho in the Midwest, and the Gulf Coast being battered from hurricanes and tropical storms, we are prepared to assist NATCA members and their family members. 

NATCA established a disaster relief fund in 1992 in the wake of Hurricane Andrew in Florida. Following the devastating 2017 hurricane season, NATCA formed the DRC to manage the disaster relief fund and organize the relief process for NATCA members affected by a disaster. Due to the generosity of our membership, our fund has continued to grow and has provided assistance to those members affected when disaster strikes. 

However, due to the extreme challenges of 2020, we need your help today to replenish funds used to help dozens of NATCA members this year. We have set a goal of raising $25,000 by the end of 1st quarter 2021 to replenish from the 2020 challenges.

The DRC stands ready to assist fellow NATCA members. Your donation is always greatly appreciated. Learn more about the Disaster Response Committee.
16th Annual Archie League Medal of Safety Awards Winners' Spotlight
Alaskan Region: Matthew Freidel, Anchorage Center (ZAN), and John Newcomb, Anchorage TRACON (A11)
The weather conditions in Alaska are often poor, but they’re highly changeable. This can lead to situations where a pilot can encounter difficulty, especially if they’re not able to fly in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). Alaskan Region air traffic controllers are keenly aware of this each time they plug in for a shift.

“I’ve seen situations where a pilot gets IMC for 30 seconds, they call up needing help, and they’re out of it in 15 to 20 seconds,” said Anchorage TRACON (A11) member John Newcomb (pictured left), a second-generation controller who was a member of the 235th Air National Guard ATC Squadron before starting his Federal Aviation Administration career in 2014. “Other times, like this situation where it’s prolonged, you’re getting PIREPs from other airplanes and ground facilities, or from other pilots who are climbing out, descending in, or in level flight. But it’s not uncommon up here.”

On this particular Sunday morning, the VFR-rated pilot of a Cessna 172, N758XS, encountered IMC after departing Soldotna Airport (SXQ), headed to Birchwood Airport (BCV). Worse, the initial transmissions from the aircraft were garbled. Newcomb and his colleague from Anchorage Center (ZAN), Matthew Freidel (pictured right), worked with assistance from their respective facility teams to aid the pilot, including vectors and recommended altitudes. Freidel earlier this month marked his nine-year anniversary in the FAA, all at ZAN. His love of aviation started at age 17 when he learned to fly gliders. He first studied commercial aviation and then air traffic control at the University of North Dakota.

In an area as vast as Alaska, controllers have lots of frequencies, but lots of limitations on their frequencies, such as line of sight. Mountains are everywhere. 

“Garbled transmissions are common,” Freidel said. “But something about it felt strange and just compelled me to follow up on the transmission. I couldn’t really understand what was going on for a couple of transmissions.”

Soon, however, Freidel received help in the form of a climbing Peninsula Airways flight. The pilot could hear the broadcast on their end. It served to clarify for Freidel that it was indeed someone he should be talking to as opposed to a bleed-over from another frequency. 

“At that point, it changed the whole dynamic of, ‘OK, what am I going to do?' to 'What do I need to figure out here?'” Freidel said. 

As soon as N758XS appeared on radar, Freidel could finally see what was happening. “It looked like they were precariously heading toward mountainous terrain on the northeastern Kenai Peninsula,” he said. Freidel had a keen awareness of that airspace, having flown around it and been in Alaska for a while, so he knew the other direction was flat with short spruce trees comprising the terrain. Therefore, the impulse was to get the pilot of N758XS turned in that safer direction.

“I think the pilot did a fantastic job of flying her airplane in a moment of distress because she took the squawk code, she took all of the instructions, she kept the aircraft’s wings level, she climbed when I asked her to climb,” Freidel said.

Once the pilot was pointed in the right direction, the remainder of the event was fairly straightforward, both Freidel and Newcomb said.

Newcomb would soon have responsibility for the aircraft as it entered his airspace. He was plugged in, working to get a briefing started for the south radar position. Fellow A11 member Adam Herndon took the handoff first as Newcomb stood behind him and they discussed the situation. Herndon said he would give Newcomb the sector while he coordinated with ANC, Merrill Field (MRI), and Lake Hood Airport (LHD) to determine weather and visibility conditions.

“It was a team effort right there, and 8XS did a great job, with wings level, climbed, did not descend,” said Newcomb. He advised the pilot she was close to ANC and “don’t worry about the Class Charlie. Just continue, and flight conditions should improve once you hit the shoreline.” Everything was coordinated by A11 so the pilot did not have to switch over to ANC.

ZAN member Chris Weldy said Freidel did a great job quickly diagnosing a pilot in distress, with initially barely readable transmissions. That set the story on a course to have a safe ending.
Alaskan Region Archie League Winners Podcast
Hear Freidel and Newcomb tell their story, and discuss their efforts to guide the Cessna pilot away from trouble to a safe landing, in the latest episode of the NATCA Podcast. Click here to listen.

View transcript of the podcast here.
NATCA plans to recognize all of the winners at the 18th Biennial Convention in Houston on the evening of Wednesday, May 26, 2021. The flying public doesn't always get to thank aviation safety professionals for the work you do daily, performing with 100 percent accuracy, 100 percent of the time. We at NATCA thank all of you for the work you do, keeping millions of passengers safe daily.
Unum: The Insurance You'd be
Crazy to Pass Up
Having insurance grants peace of mind when the unexpected happens. The NATCA group long-term disability (LTD) program from Unum is the insurance that provides protection and peace of mind in the event you lose your medical or are disabled. Seattle TRACON (S46) member Jared Mike encourages all NATCA members to sign up for Unum during this open enrollment season

“If you think you're young and healthy, trust me, you still need Unum. I signed up for many years back and I thought that I would've never needed it. At the time, I was young and in the best shape of my life, and I would say I still am in great shape, just not so young. Our job as air traffic controllers is very demanding and if you're working six-day workweeks like I was for the last three and a half years, it's even more [demanding]. The toll can sneak up on you at any time without you knowing it. I received my first payment after the 90-day waiting period. With a 20 percent loss in pay from the OT (overtime), Sunday pay, and shift differentials, I'm able to receive the full benefit.

"My father who sold long-term disability told me at the time that he had never seen a plan as good as what NATCA and Unum offer, and said I'd be crazy to pass this up.

"My advice to you: Get Unum!"

Visit for more information and to enroll. 
Unum Prize Drawing Winner at ITO
Each week, NATCA holds a prize drawing from the members who have signed up for the Unum LTD insurance. This week, we would like to congratulate Hilo ATCT (ITO) member Peter Moser.

"My greatest fear is not being able to provide for my family," said Moser. "NATCA/Unum LTD helps put my conscience at ease."

Congratulations Peter. Thank you for supporting and participating in this important NATCA benefit. Members not enrolled should sign up today to participate and be entered into upcoming drawings.
Welcome Hagerstown ATCT as Newest NATCA-Represented Local
NATCA represents a group of air traffic control specialists that work in 112 Federal Contract Towers (FCTs). These contract towers tend to be smaller in size and operation, typically employing between five and 10 controllers, many of whom are retired FAA and military air traffic controllers.

Today, we'd like to recognize and welcome the members from Hagerstown ATCT (HGR) who recently voted to join NATCA. For more information on all of NATCA’s represented bargaining units, please click here.
Operation Traffic Counts Across the U.S.
Still One More Chance to Donate to NATCA Charitable Foundation's 25 for 25 Campaign
The NATCA Charitable Foundation’s (NCF) 25 for 25 pushup challenge may have drawn to a close, but you can still donate through this Saturday, Oct. 31, to help NCF push its total even higher. Click here.

This is the biggest fundraiser of the year for NCF. The goal is to raise $100,000 while continuing to raise awareness for suicide prevention, in support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

Plus, if you raise more than $2,000, you could be in the running for some amazing prize packages.

Finally, don’t forget to visit the NCF silent auction, which also closes on Oct. 31.

Thank you to every member, your friends, and your family members who have donated to this great cause, supporting NCF and the AFSP.
National Office Staff Employee Spotlight:
Doug Church
We have an amazing National Office staff working each day to provide our members with the very best service and representation in organized labor. In this issue of the Insider, we feature Deputy Director of Public Affairs Doug Church, who is celebrating 20 years of service to NATCA. Thank you Doug!
Where are you from or what places have you lived? 
Church: I was born in Indianapolis, but call Pittsburgh my original home. I lived there as a kid, and both of my parents were born and raised there and still live in Western Pennsylvania. I’ve also lived in the suburbs of San Antonio and Detroit, Columbia, Mo., and also in Bakersfield, Calif., and West Palm Beach, Fla. I currently live in Ellicott City, Md., outside Baltimore, with my wife Jenny Steffens, daughter Ellen (17), son A.J. (14), and English Bulldog Winston (2).
Where did you go to school or what other education do you have? 
Church: I started at the University of Missouri and transferred to Michigan State University, from which I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
How did you come to work at NATCA?
Church: I decided to switch careers from sports journalism to public relations when I moved in 2000 to Washington, D.C., where Jenny, my fiancée at the time, was already living. With a lifelong love of airplanes, and having seen the movie, “Pushing Tin,” a career in air traffic control seemed really exciting until I learned of the age 31 hiring rule (I turned 31 in May of that year). Plan B was discovering that the controllers had a union, with an office in Washington, D.C. The same day I called the NATCA office to inquire about any job openings was the same day the communications director at the time was about to place an ad in The Washington Post for a media relations manager. It sure seemed like serendipity.

Do you have family members who are involved in unions? 
Church: Yes, most notably a cousin who is a leader in a teachers union in Western Pennsylvania.
What's the most rewarding part of being a member of NATCA’s staff? What's the most challenging? 
Church: The most rewarding part is working with such a dedicated, talented team of employees, both in our Public Affairs Department, and across the entire National Office, who are focused on providing NATCA members the very best representation in organized labor. Even this year, when we’ve done all of our work remotely since March, it has not deterred us from our mission. It has only made us more committed to doing the work of the membership. We are passionate about what we do and it’s because we know how passionate NATCA members are about their professions and their Union. Also, it’s a volunteer army of member activists that puts in so much work on their own time out of a deep love for what they are doing. That’s extremely inspiring to me and drives me to try and put even more effort into my work, knowing how important it is to the brothers and sisters we represent.

The most challenging thing, at the moment, is not being able to be at the National Office to work side by side with my fellow employees, and the members who travel to the office to do the work of the Union. We’ve overcome this in large part with great technology, but I do miss the camaraderie of in-person relationships and the work environment.

Do you have any hobbies or any other activities you enjoy outside of your work for NATCA?
Church: I love playing hockey, golf, and tennis – and watching all of those sports.
Has there been a favorite moment for you while at NATCA? 
Church: I have been so immensely proud and honored to have been a part of the Archie League Medal of Safety Awards since we started the program in 2004. Each of the 15 awards banquets we’ve held thus far have been my favorite moments because they are the culmination of the large amount of teamwork of many people to produce the event. I always take time to look around the banquet room during the event and I see such joy and pride on everyone’s faces as these incredible stories are shared. That is supremely gratifying. Even more importantly, the awards are the well-deserved spotlights we get to shine on our members whose extraordinary efforts literally saved lives and raised their profession and the dedication to aviation safety to new heights. To a member, they always say they were just doing their job. But to the world outside NATCA, it is breathtaking work and awe-inspiring. Nothing gives me more pleasure than working to promote our award winners to the news media.
NATCA Academy Virtual Learning
Building on the success of classes in its first five months, organizers of the NATCA Academy have announced a new schedule of classes for virtual learning through the end of November. We hope that you will take this opportunity to learn more about your Union, your rights, and how you can become more active in the areas that interest you.

Below is the schedule of upcoming classes in the next few days. Register today.
Union Members Feature: MEBA
We continue to highlight our union sisters and brothers who are also essential workers during the COVID-19 national emergency. Today we thank the members of the Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association (MEBA).

MEBA is the nation's oldest maritime labor union, established in 1875. MEBA was NATCA’s parent organization upon the Union’s founding and first few years, providing assistance. MEBA represents a large and diverse mix of engineers and deck officers in all aspects of the maritime workforce, as well as shoreside professionals at ports, offices, and in the service industries. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected MEBA members immensely as many face unprecedented restrictions and hardships, including being unable to leave their ships even when in a port and waiting for months for replacement, as quarantining procedure slows the rotation of personnel.

Click here to read more about how MEBA has fought for its members during this year’s challenges.
Aviation Labor News

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Flight attendants face an uncertain future - This month, United Airlines and American Airlines furloughed more than 32,000 employees. Many of them are wondering when, or if, they’ll fly again.

Flight attendants have taken on various roles in the public imagination over the last century: nurse, companion in the skies, doting provider, glamorous traveler.

Though commercial flights have become much cheaper and more frequent since the T.W.A. heyday, there’s still an inherent magic to air travel that rests on the cabin crew providing safety and comfort.
THE HILL: As frontline workers contract COVID-19, we're not doing enough to protect the traveling public - The same day that President Trump revealed that he and the first lady tested positive for COVID-19 — the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rejected a petition by 33 unions representing frontline transportation workers for an emergency order to require passengers to wear face coverings when they travel on planes, buses, trains and ferries. We later learned the White House also blocked a similar CDC mandate, leaving the agency charged with protecting the health of Americans to issue, watered-down recommendations for mask usage on transportation.
FORTUNE: Why stronger labor unions would speed up America's post-COVID recovery - Recessions always inflict the most pain on Americans in the middle and lower end of the income distribution range, destroying jobs, eroding wages and wiping out savings for those working in industries such as construction, manufacturing, hospitality and retail. 

But the crushing economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have reached levels unseen in the last four decades, and the long-term scarring will be severe without intervention from Congress – not just in the form of emergency relief, but also with targeted policy solutions.    

One solution lawmakers should prioritize is a historic workers’ rights proposal, given that defanged labor protections are a large part of the reason the downturn has been so devastating to those who can least afford it. We need to bring back fairness to an economy that is increasingly plagued by a fundamental imbalance of power between workers and employers. And at a time when our nation is engaged in a vital conversation about economic justice, we need to make union membership a civil right.
CNBC: Southwest pilots' union pushes back on 10% pay cut proposal - Southwest Airlines pilots’ union is pushing back on a company proposal to cut pay by 10% to avoid furloughs through the end of next year, the latest wrinkle in the carrier’s efforts to cut costs in the pandemic.

Southwest is trying to preserve its record of never having furloughed workers in its nearly 50 years of flying, but CEO Gary Kelly warned earlier this month that it would seek concessions from the labor unions that make up the bulk of its workforce.

“Our goal is to protect every pilot job so we can be prepared to take advantage of revenue opportunities when customer demand returns,” Southwest said in a statement. “Until then, we must also begin to restore our balance sheet by more closely aligning our loss in revenue with lower costs.”
New Shirt Honors NATCA Military Veterans and Supports NCF and Lone Survivor Foundation
With Veterans Day coming up, NATCA is offering a new T-shirt to honor members of our Union who are military veterans and support both the NATCA Charitable Foundation (NCF) and the Lone Survivor Foundation (LSF). 
LSF was founded in 2010 by Marcus Luttrell, the only survivor of a 2005 Navy SEALs mission in Afghanistan. Luttrell’s Texas ranch was the center of his post-combat recovery. He wanted other military families to have the opportunity to step out of their daily routines and come to a place of peace; a place where they could obtain tools for healing while being surrounded by other people who understand them. LSF provides that opportunity while honoring the warriors that gave their lives in service to our country. LSF restores, empowers, and renews hope for wounded service members, veterans and their families through health, wellness, and therapeutic support.
LSF is one of the four charities that NATCA and NCF are spotlighting as part of the 18th Biennial Convention in Houston, May 25-27, 2021. Convention Committee member Lee Moore from Houston TRACON (I90), an Air Force veteran, stated, “The committee wanted to highlight Lone Survivor because it’s a local charity that helps veterans with PTSD. A large percentage of NATCA members are veterans, including 80 percent of the members at my facility. A majority of that 80 percent have been deployed. There’s a special connection of knowing what it’s like to be deployed and the potential mental fatigue and PTSD that goes with that. Lone Survivor stands out as an organization that we have more of a sentimental connection to, because a lot of us have been in those shoes.”
The shirt comes in both unisex and women’s sizes. The women’s shirt is a V-neck. Both shirts are USA-made and union printed. The $30 price includes shipping and handling. If you order by Wednesday, Oct. 28, barring extraordinary postal delays, we expect you’ll receive your shirt by Veterans Day on Nov. 11, via USPS First Class mail. We will continue to take orders for the shirts through Veterans Day.

Order your shirt from the NATCA store: unisex shirt | women's shirt.
ITC Tech Tip: Adding NATCA Emails to Your Primary Tab in Gmail
If you are a Gmail user, to increase the likelihood that you will get news and updates in your email from our Union, NATCA's IT Committee recommends that you do the following. In Gmail, your inbox is separated into four general categories: primary, promotions, social, and updates. The primary tab is reserved for direct communication between you and your contacts. Promotions is where communications from large services will generally appear. NATCA uses Constant Contact for email communication with its members, so NATCA mail will arrive in the promotions tab of your gmail inbox. Social is reserved for social media traffic, and the updates tab is meant to capture communication from services you use like online banking. Each tab is still a part of your inbox, but Gmail tries to clean things up for you by categorizing the large volume of mail you might receive. 

If you want to make NATCA email messages show up in your primary tab, you can simply click and drag the message to the primary tab. Then click “yes” on the pop up in the bottom right. View the graphic below for assistance.
Have other IT questions? Email the IT Committee to submit a request for help.
Retirement Webinars Scheduled through December
Upcoming retirement seminars have been merged and reformatted to be webinars due to the COVID-19 national emergency. They are open to any member nationwide. The upcoming webinars are as follows:  

  • October 28: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. PDT
  • November 2: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. CDT
  • November 19: 2 p.m. - 8 p.m. EDT
  • December 7: 2 p.m. - 8 p.m. EDT
  • December 29: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. CDT

IMPORTANT: If you had previously signed up for these seminars and are unable to attend virtually, please consider canceling your reservation as space is limited for virtual classes as well.

To register for both the seminars and the webinars: use the NATCA Portal, Click on the “events” tab in the main menu at the top of the screen. 

For questions or any problems with registration, please contact Lisa Head at the National Office: 202-628-5451 or
NATCA Member Resources
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) MOU

On May 8, NATCA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding Human Resource Policy Manual (HRPM) Policy Bulletin 115, Paid Leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Policy Bulletin 115 and the MOU specifically address the FAA’s implementation of FFCRA, which was signed into law on March 18. FFCRA provides expanded paid leave options for NATCA bargaining unit employees (BUEs) who have been affected by COVID-19. FFCRA provides two forms of paid leave: Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which can be utilized for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave quick reference guide here.

Expanded FMLA Leave quick reference guide here.

FFCRA Frequently Asked Questions can be viewed here.

Download the full MOU here.

Download only the FFCRA leave request form attachment here.
Comparison of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded FMLA Leave here.