On August 10, 2012, Lewis filed two Unfair Labor Practices (ULP’s) against both FAA and NATCA (the ATC union). He charged that both the agency and the union colluded to discriminate against him, so as to obstruct his Due Process rights. In short, Lewis had filed a grievance on 5/1/08, and it was this grievance filing that triggered FAA’s proposal to fire him. He was fired six months later. After the 5/1/08 grievance filing, Lewis had repeatedly requested FAA records to defend against the removal proposal, but FAA ignored and obstructed those requests. FAA also ignored and obstructed dozens of FOIA requests in the following years. So, after all of this obstruction, a delayed Arbitration Hearing had become Lewis’ one best opportunity to collect the official records he needed to defend his reputation.
The original grievance had been filed on 5/1/08, but it languished for years. Finally, in November 2011, FAA and NATCA agreed to dates for an Arbitration Hearing: it was to occur on 2/16/12 and 2/17/12. But then, NATCA ignored Lewis’ clearly stated opposition ad accepted a late ‘settlement’ offer from FAA. Lewis lost his chance to collect records, and was paid the lost money, though at only 40-cents on the dollar (since he had been forced to ‘voluntarily retire’ to collect the annuity he needed to provide for his children). This sudden ‘settlement’ was the event that triggered Lewis’ 8/10/12 filing of the pair of ULP’s.
It is worth repeating that this hearing was for a grievance filed way back on 5/1/08; thus, it took nearly four years to get to a scheduled Arbitration Hearing date, which was then abruptly cancelled just a week ahead of the hearing date. And, to show just how outlandish the late cancellation was, both FAA and NATCA still paid more than $3,000 to the Administrative Law Judge for his ‘services’ (they were obligated to pay, since they cancelled in the final month).
Both FAA and NATCA were motivated to delay this hearing for years, and they were also motivated to ultimately kill the Arbitration Hearing. The hearing process would have compelled both FAA and NATCA officials to answer questions before an Administrative Law Judge, who then would have created a formal hearing record. That record would have served as new evidence showing the many substantial failures by both FAA and NATCA officials.
What makes this all the more discriminatory is that FAA and NATCA have a long history, pressing cases to arbitration hearings, without regard to cost or how trivial the actual case is. The record is filled with cases that are clearly un-winnable (for controllers with long misconduct histories), or cases where a single-day suspension two years ago (and thus no longer in the personnel file) is worth a few hundred dollars in pay (yet NATCA insists on spending a few thousand to arbitrate). Click on this green-box link to view a detailed analysis showing all such arbitrations in the same FAA region (Western Pacific):
Here is the background on this grievance, a chronology of the dates and records leading up to the 8/10/12 ULP filing. Hover over the green-boxes for short descriptions; click on the green-box links to view the records.
Here is a chronology presenting all ULP documents. The blue links show PDF copies and/or aiREFORM web pages for each document:
8/28/12: Lewis filed an 18-page Affidavit. Here are the contents of that filing:
- Cover Letter to Lewis’ Affidavit (1p)
- Lewis’ Affidavit (18p)
- Index of Exhibits: includes a list of all relevant FAA/NATCA personnel
- A page with links to all 61 Exhibits
4/27/13: Lewis filed a Supplemental Affidavit. He did an exhaustive review of the thousands of pages of records (mostly FOIA) he had obtained since 2007, and provided this Supplemental Affidavit with 109 Exhibits. It focuses on the collusion between NATCA and FAA. Here are some links:
- Supplemental Affidavit: this webpage is an HTML version of the actual document, with links to all 109 exhibits.
5/22/13: FLRA dismissed both ULP’s. FLRA did nothing for eight months then, as soon as the Supplemental Affidavit was filed, they arbitrarily dismissed both ULP’s. The FLRA position was to ignore all evidence prior to 2/15/12; in other words, they saw the action that prompted the ULP, but refused to consider the context and history leading to that action. Here are two links:
6/24/13: Lewis appealed both ULP dismissals. He sent a letter, presenting detailed Background, Argument, and his Conclusion as to why FLRA needed to reverse their dismissal of this pair of ULP’s. This was sent to the FLRA’s General Counsel, in Washington, DC. Here are links to copies:
- Lewis’ 6/24/13 letter, Appealing both ULP Dismissals (7-pages)
- ‘A Chronology of Related ULP’s‘ (9-pages) This was an attachment to the Appeal Letter. It shows a pattern of delay and arbitrary rejection by FLRA, in the handling of Lewis’ string of six ULP filings. He first filed in October 2007, and then made subsequent filings due to FAA and NATCA failures. This attachment is a compilation of all correspondence related to each of the six ULP filings.