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On-the-Go: August 2023

Vol 1 | Issue 1

Welcome to the very first issue of On-the-Go, a quarterly newsletter documenting the boots-on-the-ground union work NWSEO is doing across the country. It's important that our members know that their support is directly translating to making improvements to their work life and working conditions.

January 10–12, 2023

AMS Conference, Denver, CO

Theodora "Dora" Meredith, Meteorologist at the WSO Pago Pago, and John Werner, NWSEO President

In January, NWSEO National Officers—President John Werner, Executive Vice President JoAnn Becker, and Secretary/Treasurer Chris Jacobson—traveled to Denver, CO to attend the American Meteorological Society (AMS)’s Annual Meeting. This event is the world’s largest yearly gathering for the weather, water, and climate community, with the aim of bringing together great minds from a diverse set of scientific disciplines. The AMS Annual Meeting helps attendees make career-long professional contacts and life-long friends while learning from the very top people in the atmospheric sciences.

NWSEO President John Werner at invite-only NWS Q&A

President John Werner and Executive Vice President JoAnn Becker not only listened in on presentations given by AMS leadership — they also spoke at the NWS Town Hall Panel, led by NWS director Ken Graham, and represented NWSEO at an NWS Employee Engagement Session.

Executive Vice President JoAnn Becker at NWS town hall panel

JoAnn Becker took part in Graham's NWS Town Hall panel. This panel of NWS leaders discussed “Ken's Ten” efforts and strategic priorities. As the co-chair of the Shiftwork Flexibility Team, she presented the team's efforts to improve employee health and work/life balance.

Events such as the AMS Annual Meeting are one of many for the NWSEO Executive Council; in addition to providing daily membership, communications, and operational management, the Executive Council focuses extensively on representing NWSEO at local, regional, and national gatherings.


January 2023

Senator Jeanne Shaheen Fundraiser

Pictured here from L to R: Secretary/Treasurer Chris Jacobson, Senator Shaheen Chief of Staff, Alison MacDonald and Executive Vice President JoAnn Becker

In January, NWSEO Executive Vice President Becker and Secretary/Treasurer Jacobson attended a fundraising event for Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) Chairperson of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations sub-committee. This subcommittee has jurisdiction over the budget for the Department of Commerce, Department of Justice, and Science policy of the United States. This was a rare opportunity to meet Senator Shaheen and her staff. Senator Shaheen is a supporter of NWS Employees and mentioned how she valued the work of NWS.


January 2023 and Ongoing

NWS Executive Council Briefing in Silver Springs

On Tuesday, January 31st Executive Vice President JoAnn Becker provided a joint briefing for the NWS Executive Council on a key initiative of the NWS Shiftwork Flexibility Team: adding a sixth lead forecaster at every WFO. This briefing was conducted jointly with Jason Tuell, Eastern Region Director. The goal of the briefing was to obtain NWS Executive Council approval for this initiative. There was great support for this effort among the Executive Council. The Shiftwork Flexibility Team was given approval for this initiative. The All Hands announcement of Sixth Lead Forecaster efforts was sent on April 17, 2023. The All Hands email on posting the first 30 Sixth Lead Forecaster vacancies was sent on June 12, 2023. A webinar was held on June 29, 2023, to explain the program and answer questions. This webinar was recorded and is now on the Shiftwork Flexibility Team Insider Page. The first 30 Sixth Lead Forecaster positions have been advertised and applications are being reviewed and sent to the hiring officials. Additional Sixth Lead Forecaster vacancies are expected in FY24.


February 6, 2023

Pacific Tsunami Warning Center visit

L-R; Dr. Charles "Chip" McCreery, Director of Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC), Arthur John "A.J." Reiss, Co-Lead PTWC, Co-lead on Tsunamic Program Change Initiative s/b Arthur John "AJ" Reiss, Co-Lead Tsunami Program Change Initiative, John Werner, President, NWSEO s/b John Werner, NWSEO President, Ken Graham, Director, NWS s/b Ken Graham, NWS Director

President John Werner along with NWS President Ken Graham and other members of the Tsunami Warning Project Team visited the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center at Ford Island on Oahu to meet with the staff and to learn more about their operations and the challenges they face.


March 21, 2023

National Weather Service Executive Council

NWSEO Leadership has participated as a key advisor on numerous NWS executive council meetings on topics ranging from increasing shift flexibilities to more effectively streamlining NWS governance.


April 14, 2023

National Centers for Environmental Prediction Regional Labor Council in College Park, MD

On Friday, April 14, NCEP Regional Labor Council convened in College Park to tackle significant updates to the centers and look ahead to the future. Topics included increased funding for NCEP, open positions as well as openings in the months ahead, a renewed commitment to ensuring the inclusiveness of NCEP, and gathering feedback for the future of the National Weather Service operational model. Finally, the group discussed how they could best align with Ken’s 10 with a better digital presence and efforts to bring on a social scientist. President John Werner was in attendance and provided valuable insight from upcoming initiatives as well and guidance on current issues.


April 18–20, 2023

National Weather Service National Labor Council Meeting in Alaska

The National Labor Council met in Anchorage to try and tackle the Alaska Region’s biggest challenge: Filling positions. While there is funding for meteorologist roles in Juneau and Fairbanks, bringing talent to remote areas poses a challenge, even with incentives in place. The group devised tactics to boost applicant numbers through communications and initiatives to increase morale.

L-R: Back row: David Murray, NWS Management Representative for National Labor Issues, Chris Jacobson, Secretary/Treasurer, Scott Lindsey, Alaska Region Director, John Cowen, Alaska Region NWSEO Chair. Front row: JoAnn Becker, Executive Vice President, Kimberly Vaughan, Alaska Region NWSEO Vice Chair, John Werner, President, AJ Reiss, Ocean Prediction Center Director, Nicole Kinsman, Alaska Region Deputy Director.


April 22–23, 2023

Spring Council Meeting in San Antonio

In this year’s annual spring meeting of the NWSEO National Council, the team set out to work through the issues plaguing union members, big and small. Every chair brought their region's major issues to the table and worked them through as a unit. New initiatives for increasing branch membership were discussed and this year’s annual convention was planned. Lastly, the group discussed two major directives that impact every union member: telework and shift flexibility. NWSEO’s stance on telework remains vigilant and employee-first. Hurdles to shiftwork flexibility were dissected and guidance on tackling them was decided.

L-R: Back row: John Cowen, Alaska Region Chair, Jim Lee, Central Region Chair, Chris Jacobson, Southern Region Chair & Secretary/Treasurer, Eric Blake, NCEP Chair, John Werner, President, Mitch MacDonald, NAG Regional Chair. Front row: Emily Roy, Chief Financial Officer, Brandon Dunstan, Eastern Region Chair, JoAnn Becker, Executive Vice President, Jonathan Fox, Western Region Chair, Mike Dion, Headquarters Region Chair, Richard Hirn, General Counsel


May 1–3, 2023

OPS Model Team in St. Petersburg

The first in-person meeting of the Ops Model and Staffing Team took place in St Petersburg, Florida. We examined the feedback from 180 LOTs and brainstormed the NWS Future Operating Model (FOM). The team consisted of John Werner, Michelle Manelli, Mike Coyne, Ken Harding, Allison Allen, Matt Grow, and Bill Bunting. The team identified important initial steps toward achieving a FOM which can be found here at the bottom of the page under initial steps.


May 8–12, 2023

FLRA Training for NWSEO Officers in Atlanta

NWSEO Regional Leaders attended Basic Statutory Training and Advanced Statutory Training provided by the Atlanta Region Federal Labor Relations Authority from May 9-11, 2023. These intensive courses were a deep dive into the Federal Labor-Management Relations Statute (the Statute) Chapter 71 of Title 5 of the U.S. Code. Training included presentations, scenario discussions, and videos.


May 22, 2023

Shiftwork Flexibility Team in Silver Spring

President John Werner, Secretary/Treasurer Chris Jacobson, Eastern Region Chair Brandon Dunstan, and Executive Vice President JoAnn Becker attended the first 2023 in-person Shiftwork Flexibility Team meeting held in Silver Spring, MD. The implementation of the first three team initiatives: (1) Shift flexibilities available today, (2) Restorative Breaks and (3) Adding a Sixth Lead Forecaster in WFOs (except for Honolulu) were discussed and the team focused on the next steps for furthering the implementation of these three initiatives. A survey was finalized to determine the extent of the implementation. This survey has been sent out to employees and will close on August 30, 2023. Members are encouraged to respond to this survey. A new initiative for the Shiftwork Flexibility Team: No less than Six Operational Shifts per Day was discussed. This initiative is a quick win generated by Ken’s 10 Operations Model & Staffing Requirements Team for implementation by the Shiftwork Flexibility Team. The Shiftwork Flexibility Team brainstormed ideas for the framework and discussed the implementation of the new initiatives.



Interviews with SMEs for OPS models

NWSEO representatives participated in interviews with subject matter experts across the NWS in an effort to collect input from different weather segments across the agency on the current and future needs of that area. Subject matter experts were interviewed in areas such as public, marine, aviation, space weather, information technology & network, tsunami, engineering, tropical and more. The interviews will inform Ken's 10 Operations Model & Staffing Requirements Team efforts as they develop the future operating model for the NWS.


June 28–29, 2023

Shift flexibility Team meets with Deputy Directors

At the end of June, John Werner and JoAnn Becker attended a Shiftwork Flexibility meeting with the NWS Deputy Directors in which JoAnn Becker and Jennifer McNatt attended as co-leads. During this meeting, the deputy directors had a chance to provide their input and suggest changes to improve the implementation of shift flexibilities and restorative breaks in their local offices. The deputy directors were also briefed on the framework for Ken’s 10 Operations Model and Staffing Requirements Team initiative of No Less than Six Operational Shifts per day. Their comments and feedback were collected and will help to improve the implementation of this quick win.


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