(July 22, 2021) We are pleased to announce that we will be hosting Training Workshops at the 2021 NWSEO National Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada! The convention will take place at Caesars Palace on October 18th & 19th, with the workshops held on the afternoon of the 18th. The Training Workshops are open to all conference attendees. Conference attendees will need to pre-register for these workshops (details coming soon) and will be allowed to attend two different workshops.
Workshop descriptions are below:
Workshop 1: NWS Grievances and Arbitrations: This workshop is designed for all stewards. This workshop will address the NWS Grievance and Arbitration process. Attendees will gain a better understanding of the grievance process, such as how to file a grievance; learn the differences between an employee grievance and a union grievance.
Workshop 2: NWS Local Office Teams/Negotiations: This workshop is designed for all NWS stewards. This workshop is a deep dive into Local Office Teams (LOTs). Attendees will learn techniques for holding effective LOT meetings and understanding the negotiation process at the local level. This workshop will provide you tools to help you be more effective in your negotiations.
Workshop 3: Understanding Your Contract: This workshop is designed for all NWSEO leaders and those considering future leadership roles. This workshop will provide an overview of collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) and cover the key points of the 2021 4th NWS-NWSEO CBA. Special emphasis will be given to articles on Labor-Management Relations, the Grievance Process, Discipline and Schedules. Participants will work through scenarios to discover how to make the contract work for you.
Workshop 4: Growing Your Membership and Engaging with Your Members: This workshop is designed for all members. Membership is the strength and foundation of our organization. We must all work diligently to recruit new members and retain existing members. In this workshop, we will discuss philosophies and strategies for recruiting coworkers to join NWSEO, ideas for engaging current members and growing future NWSEO leaders.
Just a reminder, there is still time to earn the recruitment incentive – deadline is July 31st! Contact Christy Fox at email@example.com if you have any questions.
(July 15, 2021) The House Appropriations Committee has released its proposed FY 2022 Department of Commerce Appropriations Act which approves an 11.5% increase in funding for NWS Operations, Research and Facilities. The bill also increases funding for operations at the Aircraft Operations Center (AOC) by 17% and the Office of Satellite and Product Operations (OSPO) at NESDIS by 8%. An additional $100 million is also allocated for aircraft procurement at AOC.
The Report accompanying the bill contains the following language of note:
“The Committee is additionally concerned about the need for additional resources to ensure that our Nation’s science agencies are better prepared to help in the prediction and response to wildfires and therefore directs NOAA to conduct a workforce needs assessment on the training and potential need for additional Incident Meteorologists for wildfires and other extreme events. NOAA shall brief the Committee on the results of this assessment no later than 180 days after the enactment of this Act.“
“NWS Staffing.—The Committee remains concerned about continuing reports of staffing and management challenges within NWS. NOAA and the Department of Commerce are directed to ensure that NWS fulfills its critical mission to protect the lives and property of our Nation’s citizens, including by filling all vacancies as expeditiously as possible. In its fiscal year 2022 spend plan, NWS shall follow direction as provided in fiscal year 2021 regarding details of all NWS funded positions. The Committee further directs NWS to continue the quarterly briefings to the Committee consistent with prior year direction.“
“Dissemination.—The Committee is very troubled by the ongoing issues with NWS’ forecast dissemination systems. The recommendation therefore includes an increase of $39,284,000 above the fiscal year 2021 enacted level. NWS shall provide monthly up- dates to the Committee on the status of the ongoing problems with its dissemination systems and its progress in carrying out the Integrated Dissemination Program plan.“
“Hurricane Hunters.—The recommendation includes an increase of $100,000,000 above the fiscal year 2021 enacted level for hurricane hunter aircraft. These funds shall be used to: (1) complete the outfitting with scientific equipment of the recently acquired Gulf- stream 550; (2) perform the service depot level maintenance for the P–3 Orion hurricane hunter aircraft; and (3) exercise the contract option to acquire a second Gulfstream 550 to support hurricane surveillance and other missions.“
(July 13, 2021) Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) has just introduced H.R. 4274, the "Wildland Firefighter Fair Pay Act," which would raise the annual Title 5 overtime premium pay cap for employees engaged in wildland fire suppression activities to the Executive Schedule II pay rate (presently $199,300). Unlike the version introduced in the Senate earlier this year which covers only employees of the Departments of Agriculture and Interior, as a result of NWSEO's lobbying efforts, this House version includes employees of the Department of Commerce engaged in wildland fire suppression activities. The Senate version is pending consideration by the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. NWSEO continues to work with members of that Committee and their staff to have an amendment introduced to add Commerce Department employees (i.e. Incident Meteorologists) when the bill is considered and approved by the Committee.
A copy of the House bill is provided at this link: Rep Lofgren H.R. 4274
(June 11, 2021) Please meet NWSEO Lifetime Member, Carolyn Willis who retired in 2014 after 40 years with the NWS, and now lives in Tulsa, OK. Ms. Willis reflects on her time as a member of NWSEO, which began in the mid-80s.
When did you join NWSEO and describe your active involvement at that time.
I joined NWSEO in the mid-1980s when I worked as a meteorological technician at the WSO Colorado Springs. Martin Lee was the NWSEO Central Region Chairperson. He encouraged me to be a part of the NWSEO and be one of several members who reviewed CR Regional Operations Manual Letters (ROMLs) before they were implemented to the field. I joined to contribute in that way. That evolved into being asked to be the NWSEO representative on many NOAA and NWS teams, such as the NOAA Equal Employment Opportunity Council, the NOAA Persons with Disabilities Subcommittee, and the NWS Diversity Council. I served as NWSEO rep on other national teams, such as the "HMT Issues Team" which came up with ideas on how to best utilize HMTs in the new, modernized NWS, such as cross-training them as forecasters. I was also NWSEO rep on the Coop Station Service Accountability (CSSA) Rewrite Team which updated and modernized the old software program used to keep track of station siting, equipment, installation, repairs and observer information. It is now known as the Station Information System (SIS.) In 1996, I was asked to serve on the Proficiency Standards Teams which were being formed by management to come up with ways to rate performance of NWS employees, beyond what was already established in the annual GWPAS. I was on the team which was tasked with coming up with HMT baseline performance standards. In the end the whole thing was scrapped, as it was impossible to standardize performance nationwide, for offices with such diverse duties, responsibilities, and staffing. Also, the NWSEO was not on board with employees being evaluated and rated in that way.
I was also a member of the NWSEO Regional Partnership Council (RPC) in Western Region and was union steward at my last station (Billings, MT.) The most beneficial thing I experienced at the local level was the LOT. What a great way to work with local management and represent the bargaining unit in workplace issues that affect them every workday.
In the mid-90s, I was asked by the NWSEO to become a trained mediator for the NOAA Mediation Cadre. It was being set up as an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) team to give NOAA employees another way to handle workplace problems through mediation. I participated as mediator in several mediations before the cadre was dissolved around 2005 due to lack of funding by NOAA. We didn’t mediate our own line offices, so my mediations were for National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and NOAA Corps. It was eye-opening to me to see that other line offices had the same problems between management and their employees as the NWS did.
I am thankful that throughout my career, the NWSEO valued my judgement enough to ask me to serve in positions which affected the work lives of employees then and into the future. I was a NWSEO member for nearly 30 years when I was an NWS employee, and have remained a retiree member since then.
On a personal note, the NWSEO was a great help to me in the mid-2000s when there was a problem regarding the OPL position at my station. The NWSEO filed a national grievance based on my case. I want to say Richard Hirn was amazing, took NWS management to task, and obtained a great settlement for me that really worked out well.
Do you have anything to add about your convention experiences?
Although I did not make it to many conventions, I did attend the 1996 convention in Seattle, 2011 in Minneapolis, and 2012 in Las Vegas. It was great to see old friends and meet new ones, as well as learn about the various ways the NWSEO was working for the bargaining unit employees nationwide. I am hoping to attend the 2021 convention in Las Vegas as a retiree.
Are there some things you’d like to share that might surprise us about you?
I was known in the NWS for years as “The Woodle Woman,” as I created the cartoon slideshow “The Weather Woodles” (Weather Woodles) which has been used by the NWS for outreach since 1980. I was presented with the NOAA Administrator’s Award in 1996 for it.
In 1993, I met Dr. Ted Fujita at a WPM/WCP (Warning Preparedness Meteorologist/Warning Coordination Meteorologist) conference in Miami. I was so excited to meet him that when I shook his hand, I blabbered, “I’m SO GLAD to meet you, Dr. Fajita.” He thought it was funny I had called him a fajita and laughed and laughed. I was mortified!
Although I am retired from the NWS, I work part time for an FAA contractor, augmenting ASOS observations at the Tulsa Airport. It keeps my hand in weather, and for an aviation enthusiast, spending time at an airport isn’t work, it is pure joy! I really ENJOY working occasional mids!
NWSEO recognizes and congratulates Carolyn Willis and all of our Lifetime Members.
We hope feature stories like this will encourage NWSEO Members to get to know each other from across the nation, connect even more, and together, support each other in the work of NWSEO and in strengthening our membership.
Please submit your Member Spotlight suggestions and comments to Christy Fox, firstname.lastname@example.org.
(June 2, 2021) On May 27, 2021, NWSEO filed a grievance over failure to provide relocation expense reimbursements for Lead Forecaster and IT Specialist vacancies in Alaska. In late April, management issued a vacancy announcement through the Merit Assignment Program (MAP) for a GS-13 Lead Forecaster position at the Alaska Aviation Weather Unit. Additionally, a month later, management issued another vacancy announcement through the MAP for a GS-13 IT Specialist position at the Alaska Region Headquarters, Systems Operation Division, IT Branch (ITB) in Anchorage, AK.
Both MAP vacancy announcements stated that relocation expenses would not be reimbursed. This is a violation of Article 39, section 1 of the NWS-NWSEO Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which states in part that “NWS will reimburse relocation expenses in accordance with 5 USC 5724.” Such MAP relocations are in the interest of the agency and not primarily for the convenience of the employee.
Additionally, this is a violation 5 U.S.C. § 2301(b)(1) Merit System Principles, and 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(4), (5), (6) and (12), Prohibited Personnel Practices. NWSEO was informed that relocation reimbursement was not offered in the announcement because management planned to select local candidates in order to avoid payment of relocation expenses. Limiting recruitment of candidates in order to avoid paying relocation expenses is a non-merit factor and constitutes a violation of merit system principles which include that recruitment should be from qualified individuals from appropriate sources, solely on the basis of relative ability, knowledge, and skills, after fair and open competition. The violation of this merit system principle is also a prohibited personnel practice.
As a result of Management’s actions, an unknown number of qualified GS-12 bargaining unit meteorologists and IT specialists have been harmed because they have been dissuaded from applying for this promotional opportunity; and the eventual selectee has been harmed by not having his or her relocation expenses reimbursed.
The Union demanded the vacancy announcements be extended and reissued with relocation expenses authorized, and the NWS will inform all unit employees by email of this re-advertisement. In addition, if a non-local candidate is selected in the interim, he or she shall be granted reimbursement of his or her relocation expenses and an additional Lead Forecaster vacancy at the Alaska Aviation Weather Unit and IT Specialist vacancy in the Alaska Region Headquarters IT branch should be properly announced. The selectees should be granted back pay retroactive to the date of the initial selections.
NWSEO is committed to fighting for fair opportunities for our employees. We appreciate all of our members who support our organization.
(April 7, 2021) Please meet NWSEO Lifetime Member, Martin Lee of Duluth, MN. Mr. Lee, who retired from WFO Duluth after over 41 years of service, reflects on his time as an active member of NWSEO. He has been a NWSEO member since 1988.
Why did you join NWSEO?
It is an important investment in our careers! I learned early in my career that NWSEO leaders work hard to respond to their members’ questions with regards to collective bargaining, work schedules and supporting our mission at the NWS. I joined NWSEO to be a part of their effort and support my fellow colleagues. They were appreciative and we were a great team.
NWSEO Leadership Roles
I served as a Steward at the time Modernization and Restructuring began in 1988 at Weather Forecast Office (WFO) Minneapolis, MN. About four years later, I became the NWSEO Central Region Vice-Chairperson and worked with and learned from NWSEO leaders at that time: Alan Eros, Bill Sammler, and Dieter Crowley. When I transitioned to the Regional Chair role,I served with outstanding Vice-Chairpersons: Bill Sammler, Dieter Crowley, John Pollack, Richard Kessler, Tony Hall, Teresa Keck Jim Sieveking and Jim Lee, who is now the current Central Region Chairperson. Some of them have moved on to management roles as NWSEO helped advance many careers.
While I was the Central Region Chairperson, I worked to support employees’ needs, negotiate changes in working conditions and file grievances when necessary. My last opportunity to serve in NWSEO was to serve as a member of the NWSEO Credentials Committee. This credentialing work is an important part of the national convention and the smooth running of elections within the union.
Speaking of the national convention, my first NWSEO convention was in Minneapolis in 1992. My last convention was 26 years later in Pittsburgh, PA in 2018. At these conventions, I had the opportunity to meet and network with NWSEO members from all around the country.
The NWSEO congratulates Mr. Lee on his retirement and his outstanding contribution, efforts, and incredible support of NWSEO. He is an excellent example of how dedication to serving others can enhance your career.
NWSEO Spotlight articles allow members across the country to get to know each other, connect even more, and together, support each other in the work of NWSEO and in strengthening our membership. Please submit your Member Spotlight suggestions and comments to Christy Fox at email@example.com.
No one cares more for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) employees than NOAA employees.
No one works harder for NOAA employees than NOAA employees.
We are NOAA employees. We are NWSEO.
The NWSEO Celebrates Its MEMBERS
(March 30, 2021) The NWSEO Membership Services & Recruitment Committee are preparing for Membership Month, with enhanced resources for recruiters, an outreach list of all prospective members, templates, enrollment incentives and rewards.
NWSEO plans for more feature stories on each bargaining unit NWSEO represents. “The Spotlight & feature articles written about members have connected employees from across the nation, sharing work experiences, highlights and accomplishments. This type of connection has strengthened our union even more,” stated Membership Director Christy Fox.
And, did you know? NWSEO Stewards are permitted up to 15 minutes to meet with each newly hired employee assigned to their facility for the purpose of explaining the role and responsibilities of the NWSEO, under Article 6: Section 7 of the CBA. Please reach out to your MIC and request 15 minutes of official time for this.
RECRUITMENT * ENGAGEMENT * RETENTION
- Visit https://nwseo.org/recruitment-room/ for continuous updates over the next couple of
- Learn why others support the work of https://nwseo.org/why-i-joined-nwseo/.
- Nominate a NWSEO Member for the Spotlight
- Phone/Email Outreach Campaign, coordinated by the Membership
- All About Membership “Share Package” will be available to all NWSEO Stewards/Vice Stewards to include templates to use for outreach.
- Share the Value of NWSEO, the accomplishments and benefits of NWSEO with your co- https://nwseo.org/membership-benefits/.
- Learn How to Make Local NWSEO Meetings Interesting and Useful with your members, both in-person and
- Host a local meeting with your members (i.e. Google Hangout). Topics may include:
- COVID updates, staffing restrictions, safety requirements,
- The new CBA and its implications
- Recruiting and retention efforts
- Ongoing and potential upcoming changes in regional policies/processes
- "The door is always open! We want to hear from our members!"
Reach out to your Regional and Vice Chairs, or your Membership Director if you have questions.
ENROLLMENT INCENTIVES AND MEMBERSHIP REWARDS
NWSEO offers a “New Hire Enrollment Incentive” through December 31, 2022. Any newly hired employee (NWS, NESDIS, Aircraft Operations Center (AOC), Atlantic Oceanographical and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML), NOAA Attorneys’ Guild (NAG) new hires) who joins NWSEO by Form 1187 (payroll deduction) within nine months of their start date, or during a New Employee course or its equivalent, will receive a $300 dues rebate. The $300 rebate check will be mailed to the new member’s home within seven (7) business days.
Enrollment Incentives for other new members and recruiters will also be continued through December 31, 2022. Any NWSEO member who recruits a fellow non-member (who is not eligible for the New Hire Enrollment Incentive) to join NWSEO by Form 1187, will receive a $50 gift card (of their choice). The new member will receive a $100 dues rebate mailed to his/her home within seven (7) business days and a $50 gift card (of their choice).
NWSEO Recruitment Travel Incentive. JULY 31, 2021 is the deadline. Any NWSEO member who recruits two (2) or more new members to join NWSEO using the 1187 form for payroll deduction (not by credit card) from August 1, 2019 to July 31, 2021, NWSEO will provide reasonable airfare*, 3 nights lodging, and approved group meals for the 2021 NWSEO National Convention in Las Vegas, NV October 18-19, 2021.
* In order for airfare to be reimbursed, you must be able to provide documentation that it is the lowest available airfare rate. Printed copies of airfares from Expedia or other travel sites will serve as documentation.
Let's make NWSEO stronger than ever!
Celebrating Women’s History Month
with NWSEO NESDIS Regional Vice Chair Arla Tillman
(March 24, 2021) We recently interviewed NWSEO NESDIS Regional Vice Chair, Arla Tillman. Ms. Tillman works at NESDIS in Maryland as a Physical Science Technician / Aerospace Engineering Technician. Ms. Tillman has worked with NESDIS for over 24 years, and she continues to be instrumental in the growth and development of NWSEO membership.
How long have you worked for NESDIS?
I've been with NESDIS since 1997. Prior to working for NESDIS, I was in the Air Force assigned to the 6th Space Operations Squadron as a Space Systems Operations Specialist. Shortly after starting my career at NESDIS, despite the difficulty in working rotating shift work, l decided to persevere and go back to school and pursue both an undergraduate degree in Information Systems Management and a graduate degree in Computer Systems Management.
What type of work do you do?
As a Physical Science Technician/Aerospace Engineering Technician, I remotely command and control environmental satellites and prepare ground system equipment to communicate with satellites. My job is to ensure satellite data is recorded inside as well as outside of our window to communicate with it and is delivered real-time to our civilian and military customers. Our customers’ unique and specialized missions depend on the real-time data that they receive.
Being able to fix ground system and satellite anomalies comes with its share of challenges. But I would not be who I am if I did not embrace challenges as development and learning opportunities.
Why did you join NWSEO?
I joined NWSEO because I felt that there is a need for solid representation for the bargaining unit in the organization. In my experience, I have seen the residual effects of the lack of communication and understanding between employees and management.
In my formal training, I was taught that an organization's greatest asset is the employees. Listening is a skill that must be cultivated. Hearing is the auditory ability to receive sound and is used in the process of listening. When an employee feels as though they are not listened to and the platform to communicate and work collaboratively regarding the conditions that are causing difficulties in the workplace is ineffective, then the integrity of that organization’s greatest asset is compromised. My goal and intention are to contribute to the collaborative effort by both management and the bargaining unit to create a working relationship that serves the greatest good.
What are some important gains women have made in NOAA/NESDIS?
When I came to NOAA- NESDIS in 1997, there had never been a woman supervisor in operations until 2016. Since then, I've seen a greater representation of women in technical and science positions where representation was minimal or non-existent.
Who is the most influential woman you know? In what ways does she inspire you?
This is a difficult question because there are three women that have tremendously influenced me for one particular reason that is very much of who I am today. That reason is because of the discipline that they have shown me and demanded from me. My mother, whom I have seen beat so many odds in her lifetime, is one of the most disciplined souls I know. I do not have enough writing space to capture this quality about her and how she instilled that in me. My college volleyball coach, Cookie Stevens. She is a champion who trained and coached champions. Thanks to her and her demand for athletes to be accountable and of a disciplined mind, body, and spirit, I was a part of a National Championship team that swept through and had an undefeated season at the state, regional, and national level. She inspired me to become a personal trainer and volleyball coach. The third woman is my violin instructor, Cynthia Mauney. Mrs. Cynthia (as I endearingly call her) has over 55 years of experience as a musician and has played as a free-lance artist as well as in prestigious orchestras globally. I have a motto that I follow that challenges me on days when I’m not so much in the mood to practice. It is “I practice every day that I eat”. I’m not missing any meals… so there’s that. My motto comes in quite handy because Mrs. Cynthia in her own structured and caring way, demands that I employ a sense of awareness and stay present when I play. She demands discipline and commitment to myself in my intention of the quality of sound that I wish to produce.
As an assistant coach at the University of Southern California: https://usctrojans.com/sports/womens-volleyball/roster/coaches/cookie-stevens/131
NWSEO continues to collect feature stories and testimonials of members from all over the country. To nominate a colleague or participate in these features, write to NWSEO Membership Director Christy Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Celebrating Women’s History Month
with NOAA Attorneys Guild Regional Vice Chair Lauren Smoker
(March 17, 2021) We recently interviewed NOAA Attorneys Guild (NAG) Regional Vice Chair, Lauren Smoker of Juneau, Alaska to learn more about her experiences serving as a regional leader. Ms. Smoker has worked as an attorney for over 26 years, and she is one of the top women leaders in NWSEO. She is engaging and influential with an optimistic spirit and has achieved effective results in many areas, including recruitment.
How long have you worked for NOAA Attorneys Guild?
I’ve been with NAG since its beginning in 1995! I became a steward in the late 1990s and Vice Chair for NAG in 2012.
What type of work do you do? What projects are you working on?
I’m an attorney for NOAA and I provide legal advice to the Alaska Region of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). I help the NMFS and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council develop fisheries management strategies that comply with legal requirements. NMFS and the Council manage commercial and recreational fisheries off Alaska out to 200 nautical miles from the coast. I’ve worked on Bering Sea crab regulations (i.e., Deadliest Catch), salmon issues, and programs that allocate fish harvesting privileges for pollock, Pacific cod and flatfish to large catcher processor vessels operating in the Bering Sea.
Why did you join NWSEO? Why do you support the work of NWSEO?
I was hired by NOAA General Counsel (GC) in 1990 and I saw and was subjected to various management decisions that would have benefitted from employees’ input. Marguerite Matera and Beth Mitchell, two attorneys with NOAA in the mid-1990s, put forth the idea of forming a union to allow employees an opportunity to work with management to improve working conditions and advance the mission of the office. I knew right away that what they were proposing was a wonderful idea and that it would make NOAA GC a great place to work. And it has!
Any experiences you’d like to share serving as Regional Vice Chair?
Being a part of NAG has always been important to me, from being a member, to being office steward, and now to being Regional Vice Chair. But becoming Regional Vice Chair has allowed me to participate in the larger mission of NWSEO, and I’ve learned so much. It has been a great experience getting to know the National NWSEO leadership as well as stewards and vice stewards from across the agency. I look forward to the convention every year because I get to see friends I’ve made over the years and learn about all the terrific work NWSEO is doing for its membership and NOAA. It has also allowed me to learn more of what NAG is doing for our entire bargaining unit, and to be part of those efforts.
What are some important gains women have made in NOAA NAG?
Well, the formation of NAG was due in exceptionally large part to Marguerite and Beth! Women have served in many roles, on negotiation teams, projects, being stewards, vice stewards, Regional Chair and Regional Vice Chair. Gender equality is very strong in NAG, and I see that continuing.
Who is the most influential woman you know? In what ways does she inspire you?
This is such a great question because it makes me think of all the women who have supported and inspired me throughout my life. I remember the woman who lived down the street from me who was my friend and became our Pennsylvania county’s first female judge and is the reason I went to law school. I remember my female friends and work colleagues over the years who have helped me through life by making me laugh, providing a shoulder to cry on, or a trusted person to commiserate with. But the most influential woman in my life without doubt was my mom, Marion Rogerson. She was amazingly optimistic, loved to laugh and have fun, took people for where they were at, not where she thought they should be, and was always there for me. I’ve always been inspired by my mother, and even though she passed away nine years ago, I’m still learning from her example.
NWSEO continues to collect feature stories and testimonials of members from all over the country. To nominate a colleague or participate in these features, write to NWSEO Membership Director Christy Fox at email@example.com.
(March 5, 2021) This morning, NWSEO President John Werner and Executive Vice President JoAnn Becker signed the 2021 NWS-NWSEO Collective Bargaining Agreement together with NWS leaders Dr. Louis Uccellini, NOAA Assistant Administrator for Weather Services; Mary Erickson, Deputy Assistant Administrator National Weather Service; and David Murray, NWS Chief Negotiator.
The contract will now be submitted for Agency Head Review at the Department of Commerce level, where the Agency has 30 days to approve or disapprove the agreement. The Agreement may only be disapproved by the “agency” head (actually, a designee of the Secretary of Commerce) if it contains a provision or provisions that are contrary to law. The Agreement will go into effect once Agency approval is received.
“This is a landmark occasion for NWSEO and NWS. We are on the threshold of a new dawn for federal workers with the new administration and a renewed focus on protecting the federal workforce. We hope this signing marks a pivotal moment in the national NWSEO and NWS relationship and results in an even more productive, transparent and collaborative relationship. Working effectively together will allow us to develop the needed synergy to ensure we remain the juggernaut of weather, water and climate services!” said President Werner.
We are grateful for the contributions of our members who participated and helped in our successful negotiation efforts. We thank all NWSEO members for the support for this new contract. Your NWSEO membership makes a difference in determining the future for our Workforce and the Agency.
If you are not currently a dues-paying member and would like to join our professional organization, please contact Christy Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
(February 19, 2021) NWSEO continues to collect nominations for our “NWSEO Member Spotlight,” showcasing the work, dedication and talents of our members, inspiring others and connecting all of our union members.
Meet Paul Fike, Former Steward and Lead Forecaster at the Aviation Weather Center (AWC) in Kansas City, MO, who retired at the end of January 2021 after over 36 years of service!
What sparked your interest in a career in weather?
My interest in meteorology started when I was 8 years old. I grew up in the southern suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. On January 26, 1967, a blizzard dumped 23 inches on the Chicago area. It remains the most snow that I have ever seen from a single storm and triggered my interest in meteorology.
What is your history working with the NWS?
I started working with the NWS at the National Severe Storms Forecast Center (NSSFC) in August 1984. If you asked me in graduate school where I wanted to work, it would be NSSFC. I was also fortunate to work alongside my best friends for the first 10-12 years of my career. I met them in graduate school at St. Louis University. I also worked with former classmates from my undergraduate days at Northern Illinois University.
At NSSFC, I started in the National Public Service Unit and was promoted to Severe Local Storms Unit (SELS) Assistant forecaster in February 1987. In February 1992, I was promoted to the Convective SIGMET Unit which was part of the National Aviation Weather Advisory Unit (NAWAU). The SELS portion of NSSFC moved to Norman, OK and became the Storm Prediction Center (SPC). NAWAU became the AWC and remained in Kansas City. I was promoted to AWC Lead Forecaster in August 1996 as part of the charter group of AWC Leads. I held that position until my retirement on January 30, 2021.
Describe the most interesting/unusual experience in your work.
I always found my work interesting since every day is different. When you are forecasting on a national scale, there is always something to look at. I was a magnet for computer problems when I worked. On one occasion at 1 AM, the lights went out, but the computers stayed up. A few seconds later, the lights came back on, but the computers all went down.
Why did you join the NWSEO?
I joined the NWSEO due to the role that NWSEO plays in stating our case before Congress during budget deliberations. NWS management is confined to supporting the President’s budget. NWSEO has been an advocate for the NWS employees to the members of Congress who are making decisions on our future budgets.
Briefly discuss your leadership roles and your active participation within our union.
I was the first NWSEO steward for the AWC. I think my term started in 1995 and ran until 2001. During my tenure, three major events stand out: a budget crisis at the start of my tenure; the creation of the Collaborated Convective Forecast Product (CCFP); and the move of AWC from the federal building in downtown Kansas City to its present location which it shares with Central Region Headquarters and the NWS Training Center. The budget crisis showed the importance of your customers as advocates before Congress during tough budget times. The CCFP still exists today and is now known as the Traffic Flow Management Convective Forecast (TCF). As steward, I worked with management on the impact and implementation of the CCFP.
I also was the national NWSEO representative on the NWS Strategic planning team. Later teams were able to complete this task. I was the NWSEO team lead for the Graphical Forecasts for Aviation (GFA) team in the 2000s. Through the hard work of team members and the forecasters, we were able to successfully implement the graphical AIRMET (G-AIRMET) in 2008. In 2010, AWC and NCEP Central Operations shared a Department of Commerce Silver medal for this accomplishment. Since 2010 until my retirement, I was a team lead or a representative on teams working on the planning and transitioning from N-AWIPS to AWIPS 2 at the national centers. I have also been NWSEO representative on AWC Local Office Team (LOT) Working groups. I received Regional Isaac Cline awards in 2013 and 2020 for Program Management and Administration.
Current NWSEO Executive Vice President JoAnn Becker and current AWC Steward Shari Mutchler were team members who worked with me on the GFA project.
Would you recommend joining/supporting NWSEO to others and if so, why?
My reason for initially joining the NWSEO is still valid today. With uncertain budgets ahead, the importance of NWSEO being an advocate for NWS employees is just as great if not greater today. I would recommend joining the NWSEO to support those efforts.
If you could improve one thing about your job, what would that be?
AWC has been able to successfully transition to remote operations during the pandemic. It is a major accomplishment and revolutionized the way we work. About 2/3 to 3/4 of our staff is working remotely. I would like to get past the pandemic and have everyone back on station when it is safe to do so. The camaraderie of the staff is diminished during remote operations.
On a national scale, I am hopeful that a new Collective Bargaining Agreement can be agreed to soon. I appreciate all of the work that the negotiation team has done on this. I am a believer in Quality Through Partnership. I like when management and NWSEO are able to work together to solve problems. I realize that this is not always possible, but I would like to see more of that not just in NWS/NWSEO, but in the world today.
What is the best place you’ve traveled to and why?
My nephew was married in Hawaii on December 31, 2006 on the island of Kauai. I was able to travel to Hawaii for the wedding and the combination of his wedding and enjoying the beauty of Hawaii with family made for a memorable vacation.
Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
When I enrolled at the University of Illinois in 1977, I was signed up for a pre-pharmacy curriculum. However, before the fall semester began, I changed my mind and decided that I wanted to become a meteorologist.
NWSEO extends its warmest congratulations to Mr. Fike on his retirement and greatly appreciates his time and contribution to the NWSEO Member Spotlight. After supporting the work of NWSEO since 1988, we welcome Mr. Fike as a Lifetime Member of our union.
NWSEO publishes feature stories like this as a communication tool for NWSEO Members to get to know each other from across the nation, connect even more, and together, support each other in the work of NWSEO and in strengthening our membership.
Please submit your Member Spotlight suggestions and comments to Christy Fox at email@example.com.
(February 5, 2021) Congratulations to newly retired NWSEO Member David Saale of Kansas City, MO after serving 30 years in the NWS. Originally from Chillicothe, MO, Mr. Saale served in the Field Artillery Unit of the Army during 1976-79 in Augsburg, Germany. He began his career with the NWS National Logistics Support Center (NLSC) shortly after working for a printing company in the Kansas City area. Mr. Saale joined NWSEO in 2008 when he first met former Executive Vice President Bill Hopkins and General Counsel Richard Hirn in their visit to NLSC. “Richard Hirn and Bill Hopkins were very professional and shared with me that this would be a smooth transition and it was. My NWSEO contacts have always been helpful with any questions or problems that I inquired about,” he stated. Mr. Saale served as NLSC steward from 2008 until his retirement on January 2021.
In recent months, Mr. Saale contributed to a massive effort where NLSC shipped over 300,000 masks to NOAA federal employees.
When asked, would you recommend joining and supporting NWSEO to others; if so, why? Mr. Saale replied, “Employees should step up and support the work of NWSEO. I encourage employees to aid the only union with the ability to participate in collective bargaining for NWS employees (as well as NESDIS, AOC, AOML, OGC), creating better working conditions for all.”
The NWSEO salutes Mr. Saale and his great support of NWSEO membership and active involvement.
We hope feature stories like this will be a communication tool for NWSEO Members to get to know each other, from across the nation, connect even more, and together, support each other in the work of NWSEO and in strengthening our membership.
Please submit your Member Spotlight suggestions and comments to Christy Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submit forms by Wednesday March 31, 2021
(January 26, 2021) The NWSEO negotiated NWS Health Club and Wellness Services Fees Reimbursement Program allows NWS employees to be reimbursed up to $300 per year as a health club membership dues rebate. This rebate also covers certain weight loss and smoking cessation programs. In order to be eligible for the programs, it is important that the correct forms are submitted to your supervisor no later than March 31, 2021. Complete information on the program is available here: Health Program Guidance
To take advantage of this important benefit, employees will need to submit the following to their supervisor:
Form A to Enroll must be submitted between February 1, 2021 and March 31, 2021 to receive benefits for 2021.
Form B to Receive Reimbursement must be submitted before March 31, 2021 for reimbursement for the prior year 2020. Employees must submit Form B, Self-Certification Usage CD-326 and proof of payment for membership/services to their supervisors no later than March 31, 2021.
Note: New NWS employees or existing employees unable to apply during the open season due to prolonged absences may apply within 14 days of returning to or entering service.
If you have any questions, please contact NWS Management and Organization Division, via email at email@example.com or by phone at 301-427-6939.
Remember, this health club and wellness benefit is available to you solely because of the work of NWSEO. It is just one more way to demonstrate the strength and benefits your membership provides.
Thank you for your membership and the support it brings to our professional organization.
(January 11, 2021) Active NWSEO membership is the lifeblood of our professional organization. It is through the strength of our members that NWSEO is the only organization with the ability to lobby Congress and the Administration to help save jobs and programs, promote better working conditions, enhance career opportunities, and participate in collective bargaining for the bargaining units we represent. Your membership and willingness to be an active NWSEO member have certainly helped propel each of our units to be world-class within the U.S. Federal Government, DOC and NOAA.
NWSEO dues via payroll deduction (Form 1187) are set at one percent (1%) of your salary to a maximum of $24.30 per pay period, as of January 3, 2021 (Pay Period 1). This minimal increase of 24 cents per pay period over 2020 reflects the Federal salary increase of one percent for 2021. As directed by the President’s Executive Order signed on December 31, this salary increase applies to all areas, with no additional increase allocated for locality pay.
If you pay by credit card, monthly dues for 2021 are $52.65. Semi-annual dues for 2021 are $315.90 and annual dues are $631.80.
Thank you for your service and continued membership support!
(January 9, 2021) Please meet NWSEO Lifetime Member, Suzanne Sims of Tucson, Arizona. Ms. Sims reflects on her time as a member of NWSEO, which began in 1995.
- Briefly tell us what sparked your interest to pursue a career in weather?
My father was a meteorologist. He got his MS from the University of Wisconsin and worked as a meteorologist at Fort Huachuca when I was growing up in Southern Arizona. There was always a NOAA Weather Radio in the house, and rain gages being measured, and my father taught me how to identify different cloud types at an early age. My parents actually met at the University of Arizona, in the Atmospheric Sciences department when my father was a research scientist, and my mother was Dr. Louis Battan’s secretary. Dr. Louis Battan is well known for his research on radar meteorology and cloud physics. So, when I ended up studying there, the professors knew my parents and welcomed me aboard. In other words, my career in weather was sort of predetermined.
- What is your history working with the NWS?
I began my career in February 1990 as a Met Intern at Weather Service Office (WSFO) Phoenix. In 1994, I was promoted to a Journey Forecaster position in Sacramento, then transferred to neighboring Monterey in 1998. I was promoted to Lead Forecaster a year later and worked in Monterey until I retired at the end of February 2020. After retiring, I immediately returned to my home state of Arizona, and now live in Tucson.
- Describe the most unusual/interesting experience in your work.
During the first summer of my career, I got the chance to take a flight on one of the Hurricane Hunter planes during the Southwest Area Monsoon Project (SWAMP) as NOAA and National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) researchers studied monsoon thunderstorms in Mexico. It was also during that summer that I took the weather observation that closed down Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport when the temperature hit 122 degrees. The density altitude charts only considered temperatures as high as 120 degrees then but were modified by the following summer to account for temperatures as high as 130 degrees.
- Why did you join NWSEO?
I joined NWSEO in 1995 when a government shutdown and a possible furlough loomed. I should have joined much earlier in my career.
- Briefly discuss your leadership roles and your active participation with our union.
I served as branch steward and vice-steward at both the Sacramento and Monterey offices. I became Western Region (WR) Chairperson in 2013 and served in that role until this past October. I was also on the NWS Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) Negotiations Team.
- Would you recommend joining and supporting NWSEO to others; if so, why?
Absolutely! Being part of NWSEO gives bargaining unit employees a means to steer the course of the NWS by participating in local, regional and national teams, and providing feedback on future contracts. Join NWSEO! Go to conventions, get involved, and run for office! Honestly, the most rewarding aspect of my career was serving as WR Chair. Relationships that I fostered in that role directly helped employees in WR, and our Regional Labor Council actually got important things accomplished within our region.
- If you could improve one thing about the job you held, what would that be?
As stated previously, I should have joined NWSEO earlier in my career.
- What is the best place you've traveled to and why?
Hawaii!! The Big Island and Kauai are my favorites of the Hawaiian Islands, but they are all wonderful.
- Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
Up until recently, I had never watched the TV show Lost. I read somewhere that it was the perfect show to binge-watch during a pandemic, and since I had never seen it, I gave in. It is now my latest TV obsession. Don’t tell me how it ends, though...I’m now in the final season.
The NWSEO congratulates Ms. Sims on her retirement. We are grateful for her service and tremendous support of NWSEO membership and the Political Action Committee (PAC) funding and also for participating in the NWSEO Spotlight article.
NWSEO recognizes and congratulates Suzanne Sims and all of our Lifetime Members.
We hope feature stories like this will encourage NWSEO Members to get to know each other from across the nation, connect even more, and together, support each other in the work of NWSEO and in strengthening our membership. Please submit your Member Spotlight suggestions and comments to Christy Fox, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear NWSEO brothers and sisters,
As we take a moment to reflect on this past year, truly a year of disbelief, I’ve considered our top milestones in 2020.
NWSEO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENTS
This has been a record year for contract negotiations. First, the NESDIS Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was ratified by the NESDIS union members and signed by the parties. This is a big accomplishment for Chairman Hugh Sharkey, Aaron Savage, Jake Cherrix, Stan Abney, Zach Dornhagen and Arla Tillman.
Next, the contracts for the NOAA Attorneys Guild (NAG), Aircraft Operations Center (AOC) and Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) were opened for renegotiation.
Last, the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) took jurisdiction over the NWS contract negotiations and adjudicated the 29 contract articles in dispute. The NWS contract ratification vote on the imposed contract was conducted electronically, with the NWS NWSEO members overwhelmingly rejecting the contract by a vote of 91% to 9%.
A new dispute arose when NWSEO requested the parties return to the table to renegotiate the NWS contract. Management would only negotiate over the four articles agreed upon prior to the FSIP taking jurisdiction and NWSEO demanded to negotiate the contract in its entirety. The matter was taken to arbitration. Arbitrator Greenburg ruled NWS breached negotiations ground rules and ordered NWS back to the bargaining table to renegotiate over 17 articles. The arbitrator however, ruled the NWS is not obligated to renegotiate provisions imposed by the FSIP. NWSEO is appealing this portion of the ruling. In the meantime, NWS management must maintain the status quo by honoring the 2001 CBA.
OUR FIRST VIRTUAL NATIONAL CONVENTION
The 2020 NWSEO National Convention was a successful virtual one-day event. Over 150 members registered for this event. NWSEO President Werner, NWSEO Executive Vice President JoAnn Becker and NWSEO Secretary-Treasurer Chris Jacobson facilitated informative sessions, reports, and new business. NWSEO awarded the prestigious 2020 Kip Robinson Award to Karleisa Rogacheski.
The 2021 NWSEO National Convention is scheduled in person (fingers crossed) for October 18-19, 2021 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, NV. Look for information on steward training in the upcoming 2021 Notice of Convention.
STRONG MEMBERSHIP PERSISTS DESPITE COVID, RETIREMENTS, PROMOTIONS & SEPARATIONS
NWSEO welcomed 122 new and renewed members during 2020. From our larger bargaining units, Central Region leads in total number of new members with 24, followed by Eastern Region with 21 new members for the year. NWSEO members from the agencies (NWS, NAG, AOML, AOC and NESDIS) have invited and encouraged growth of our union and together, current NWSEO membership is now at 1,591 members.
NEW NWSEO WEBSITE
2020 saw the launch of a much needed new and improved NWSEO.org website. Our website is an important resource for employees, media contacts, elected representatives, and the public. The new NWSEO.org has been a challenging effort due to the massive content of the former website, which contained over 1,000 pages of important information. We continue to work to improve this new website for our members. New features were added to the website to improve the user experience including:
- Mobile/tablet device friendly site
- Search feature to make it easier to locate important information
- Subscription service for website updates
- Improved NWSEO store
- Password-protected section for NWSEO Officers
IMPROVED MEMBER ENGAGEMENT
Member feedback is valued and important, and we have taken several opportunities to survey our membership on important issues in 2020. We reached out to HMTs about the OPL dispute to gain their feedback. We surveyed members for their feedback on the new NWSEO website, convention location and various work/life issues. We will continue using surveys to collect feedback from members in 2021. Please help us gather your input by responding to our surveys and ensure your voice is heard.
RECRUITMENT INCENTIVE REMINDERS
NWSEO CONVENTION TRAVEL INCENTIVE. Any NWSEO member who recruits two or more new members to join NWSEO using the Membership Form 1187 for payroll deduction (not by credit card) from August 1, 2019 to July 31, 2021, NWSEO will provide reasonable airfare, 3 nights lodging, and approved group meals for the 2021 NWSEO Convention at the Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, NV on October 18-19, 2021. The name of the recruiter must be on the submitted Form 1187 in order for them to receive recruitment credit.
NEW HIRE ENROLLMENT INCENTIVE. NWSEO offers a New Hire enrollment incentive through December 31, 2022. Any newly hired employee (NWS, NESDIS, AOC, AOML, NAG) who joins NWSEO by Form 1187 (payroll deduction) within nine months of their start date, or during a New Employee course or its equivalent, will receive a $300 dues rebate via check mailed to the new member’s home address within 7 business days.
MEMBER REWARDS FOR BOTH NEW & LONG-TIME MEMBERS. Any NWSEO member who recruits a fellow non-member to join NWSEO by Form 1187, will receive a NWSEO t-shirt and a $50 gift card (of their choice). The new member will receive a $100 dues rebate mailed to his/her home address within 7 business days and a $50 gift card (of their choice). This enrollment incentive expires December 31, 2022.
CHEERS TO 2021
With the challenging 2020 year behind us, let’s push forward with hope, courage and renewed vigor to make 2021 the best year ever for NWSEO members. It’s through your talents, efforts, and dedication that the bargaining units NWSEO represents are so widely trusted and respected by our partners, peers, Congress and the public. Wishing you and yours all the best for a safe, healthy, and prosperous New Year!
President, National Weather Service Employees Organization