NWSEO’s Diligent Work Pays Off: Department of Commerce Puts the Brakes on Plans to Consolidate CWSUs
The Department of Commerce has decided it will not accede to the FAA’s request to close and consolidate the NWS Center Weather Service Units located at 21 ARTCCs. Secretary Gary Locke made the decision after meeting personally with NWSEO President Dan Sobien, Vice President Bill Hopkins and General Counsel Richard Hirn to discuss the issue. New political appointees at NOAA, including Under Secretary Dr. Jane Lubchenco and her staff helped facilitate the decision.
This decision is the culmination of a five year lobbying effort by NWSEO to preserve both aviation safety and NWS employee jobs. NWSEO spent over $200,000 in this lobbying effort and obtained the support of the Senate Commerce Committee, the House Science Committee (which held hearings last year attacking the consolidation) and the House and Senate Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittees. NWSEO officials met with the Obama transition team immediately following the 2008 election and met repeatedly with newly appointed DOC and NOAA officials during 2009 to educate them about risks which the consolidation of CWSUs would create for the flying public. According to a senior Science Committee staffer, NWSEO’s lobbying “did great work on this for the union and the country.”
“The collaborative work of the NWSEO, DOC and NOAA will promote safe air travel, save money and protect our jobs,” said NWSEO President Dan Sobien. “NWSEO membership played a great part in saving the jobs at the CWSUs. If you work at a CWSU, thank a NWSEO member. If you’re not a member yet, this is just one of many reasons to join.”
NWSEO and NOAA have been working closely and frequently to improve the quality of services the NWS is providing for the nation. One of these efforts is the placement of additional aviation forecasters at forecast offices or CWSUs. A demonstration project, involving the assignment of three additional dedicated aviation forecasters was conducted last quarter at the WFO New York. The early results of this effort are extremely encouraging with a 50 percent decrease in weather related flight delays during the trial period over the same time last year.