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Reserves TDART and USERRA


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BLUF: Where would you think a good start might be to look into/start bugging people about possibly getting USERRA protections for TDART slots? My Congressional Representatives? A military rep somewhere that has more lobbying clout? Tom Cruise?

Crazily enough, my 38-yo, Billy Madison-ass is UPT complete and a couple days from graduation and official wings on my chest. I’m stoked for PIQ and beyond as I continue to grow as an MWS pilot. But, one of my biggest gators is getting closer to the boat: the end of official pipeline orders after my 140-150 days of unit seasoning.

To continue to become better and more qualified pilots, the Reserves have switched to civil-service TDART (4 year ART) jobs over giving AD seasoning orders. It’s a pretty solid deal for the units, with AFRC footing the bill and it being an over-hire/not coming out of the unit’s manning. Plus, there’s no long-term obligation of building AD retirement time. But, it makes it tough for those of us that have established careers on the outside.

I want to continue training and becoming a better MWS asset, but taking that job means a full leave of absence from the FDNY. No more time clicking off toward pension/retirement, no more earned promotions (even losing an already earned promotion and the years on orders, if I don’t officially return to the FD before taking a TDART slot), and the chance that they revoke the leave of absence and I have to choose between flying or losing my FD career. 

I’m sure this translates to other fresh out of UPT brothers and sisters in airlines, engineering, teaching, or just about any other field that depends on USERRA protections. The only folks that it doesn’t likely effect are those that are hired and head to UPT right out of college or without an established career beforehand, where a guaranteed 4 year civil service job is a home run. 

So, why’d they shift from seasoning orders with USERRA protections to making it a civil service job? Since this is the current option, who can I talk to about possibly getting USERRA protections for TDART? 

I’m good at being persistent and annoying, but I’m not sure where to start. The Reserves spent a lot of money getting us wings, I’ve gotta think they can have a better way than leaving us choosing between our full-time civilian career and being a barely mission qualified pilot or putting that career on full stop to try to become more valuable pilot assets.

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Ummm what?  So they traded AD seasoning orders for a technician spot?  Let me guess, they want pay you something less than GS-12...even a GS-12 was a sizable pay cut for me when I looked at it way back when.  Damn right this is a good deal for the unit and you get the shit end of the stick lol.  The reserves hired you to be a part timer and your priorities are family, civilian job (unless you WANT to be full time) and then the Reserves.  I'd start with your FLT/CC and explain what you're thinking and see where it can go.  That's a tough spot to be in as the new guy in the squadron, but at 38 I'm guessing you'll take less shit than the average 23 year old returning from training.  Are any of your commanders part-timers?  If so, I'd talk with them about your situation as there has to be some middle ground here.  

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3 hours ago, FDNYOldGuy said:

So, why’d they shift from seasoning orders with USERRA protections to making it a civil service job? Since this is the current option, who can I talk to about possibly getting USERRA protections for TDART?

FDNY,

Ask your training guy for the governing reg with regard to seasoning orders (might be buried in some version of the 202v1). My suspicion is that this is a resurrected version of similar shit they tried to pull a few years ago. Basically, AFRC made dudes going to UPT sign contracts that said they would be ARTs. Turns out that was illegal because you can't be forced to quit another civilian job as a compensatory measure for AFRC's inability to manage manning

Did you sign a contract stating you'd be a TDART? If not, they still probably have to find a way to give you seasoning orders because those are normally the rules. Let us know how it goes.

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Let's pump the brakes. I'd be careful about the nomenclature here. MQT (now MT) is part of school tour funding. I know because I used to be the training guy on the officer side, when filling out the AF 101s for my last CAF unit. That's paid by daddy AFRC. You're not being shorted that.

TDART is a different thing. It's a full time ART pipeline grooming program, not a substitution of mission funding for pilots, like it's being portrayed here. As most old guys here know, OPM requires flight time triggers for full time ART positions and seats. In the past, baby ART jobs were requested in order to kill two birds with one stone, since what the unit really wants is meat in the ADCON seat, not airline pilot aspirant fodder. AFRC simply streamlined that constant ask from the units, via TDART. That's it, no conspiracy here. And yes, of course it's a cheaper avenue than paying people title 10 (see my remarks on the AGR-ART flexibility thread), are you new? (don't answer that, I know you are 😉 )  

At any rate, straight out of the UFT Guidebook:

image.png.e912150120eefa695ed7ad7d5b262291.png

 

So everybody pump the brakes on the "they're forcing me to quit my job!" nonsense. You're still getting 140 days of RPA to get local mish qualified after FTU, just like everybody before you. After that, you're no different than any other TR: That's what you signed up to do, be a TR.

Now for some tough love:

The fact you built decade long seniority and retirement credits in a civilian career before going to UPT is not germane to this. Most people your age would not have had the luxury of acting on a military flying epiphany in their late 30s in the first place, so count your blessings. Like you said, most young guys (the majority in the UFT-board level of things), have no option in this shitbox economy. And in the shitbox economy I got smoked out of grad school 15 years ago with no kidding $1500 to my name, TDART would have been a godsend. Like I told a couple of the TDART applicants who have PM me recently, and I quote myself: I would have scalped them with my bare hands for a TDART guarantee in 2006. 

So let's redirect fire here. You can trough.... but you rather be an AGR. I hear ya brother, I want a threesome with my wife and Alexis Texas. Wish in one hand and shit on the other. That may not in the cards here, because your unit is ART-centric. But you knew that from day one. You can still trough, just not to the degree you would prior to Corona, since all your senior guys are coming back to roost and you're the low man on the pole. Re-read the 3 rules of military life. BTDT got the Lost Decade T-shirt. If the unit is shorting you the 140 RPA days post FTU, take that UFT guidebook to your DO right now, and escalate from there. That's the only legal foul they would be committing. But I'm 69% sure that's not what's going on here.

As to the macro topic of ARTs not being USERRA exempt, just like my threesome ask, that has been a known quantity for decades. This isn't new. Matter of fact, it's stated up front. They're not telling your unit TRs to become ARTs if they want to trough or pull more trips at the unit. They're still using the same mish mash of MPA and RPA allocations they always have. What you're asking (making ART USERRA exempt) is a non-starter. It's federal law brother. By the time they get around to changing that, you'll be of Social Security Age. Pick another hill to die on.

The reality is that you are at a fork in the road, career wise. You gotta figure out what you want to be in life. We've already conversed on PM as to what I think you should do based on your current potential avenues (and we counted three distinct paths from this discussion alone). If you want to put your gaining unit on blast for what you think is subversion of the law, that's your prerogative, I have no dog in that fight. I just want to make sure people understand what TDART is and isn't. 

Good luck to all.

 

 

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DEFINITELY pumping the brakes on putting any of this on my gaining unit or anyone anywhere trying to short me RPA days. They’re 100% not doing anything shady, I have my 140 queued up for after PIQ, and they’ve gone above and beyond to help out. I am not intending to sound alarm for anything that’s been done or coming down the pike.

My point is that I don’t want to potentially take food out of other folks in the unit’s mouths who don’t have other income options, like I fortunately do. I’m sure being low man on the totem pole means that won’t likely be an issue and I’m completely understanding of being last in line when it comes to getting fed orders; especially in a shit economy.

It does seem as if “daddy Reserves” saw an issue with TRs leaving UPT/PIQ/Prog Tour and struggling being able to feed themselves, as it seems like you experienced @hindsight2020. Maybe TDART came out of units being hesitant to give coveted longer term orders to newbies over senior folks, especially in a bad economy, so they created something that would only be temporary and only an entitlement to new pilots.

Again, it seems like a pretty awesome deal, so I’m not bagging on it existing: Reserves have a way to ensure their investment on training a pilot doesn’t wither on the vine and units don’t have to foot the bill or lose a manning spot to get us to ride without training wheels.

It’s more of a question of the rationale. If the position was created to give newly minted pilots the option to become much more qualified and more of an asset to the unit, why make it an option that requires foregoing any previous career established, when the citizen airman is such a touted thing? Of course, it’s not a “forced” requirement to take the TDART job, as @Royal alluded to it might have been levered as in the past, but to not take it is to take a much slower and longer route to be as qualified and as usable by the unit. 

My intention is to see if garnering those USERRA protections is a changeable thing. Nothing gets changed if no one asks for it. If that’s a Federal hill to die on, it still can’t hurt to ask; even if it’s of no benefit in my timeline, it might help someone down the line. Just wanted to see if anyone had any ideas where that question could get posed first. 

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7 hours ago, SocialD said:

Ummm what?  So they traded AD seasoning orders for a technician spot?  Let me guess, they want pay you something less than GS-12...even a GS-12 was a sizable pay cut for me when I looked at it way back when.  Damn right this is a good deal for the unit and you get the shit end of the stick lol.  The reserves hired you to be a part timer and your priorities are family, civilian job (unless you WANT to be full time) and then the Reserves.  I'd start with your FLT/CC and explain what you're thinking and see where it can go.  That's a tough spot to be in as the new guy in the squadron, but at 38 I'm guessing you'll take less shit than the average 23 year old returning from training.  Are any of your commanders part-timers?  If so, I'd talk with them about your situation as there has to be some middle ground here.  

Just reiterating first my unit had been great and says they’ll do what they can when the time comes; it’s just hard to know what things will look like in 6-9 months. I completely understand that and don’t have expectations of them doing anything different. TDART is the push is out of the Reserves as a whole across all units and talking most of my Reserves counterparts here are all in the same boat, so it is not a unit-specific thing. Everyone still gets the 140-150 days of AD seasoning orders. It’s just the timeline beyond that seasoning/prog tour that I’m talking about.

And, again, while I think it’s awesome Big Reserves offered to shoulder the cost/manning burden of creating the option to avoid units having to pick and choose their battles, I just was curious if there might be a chance in hell to address the fact the option comes at a high cost for Traditional Reservists that have established careers before heading to UPT when orders with USERRA protections, as used in the past, ensured they would have coverage. 
 

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5 hours ago, FDNYOldGuy said:

It’s more of a question of the rationale. If the position was created to give newly minted pilots the option to become much more qualified and more of an asset to the unit, why make it an option that requires foregoing any previous career established, when the citizen airman is such a touted thing

Because that's NOT the reason the program exists. Read the UFT handbook excerpt I quoted, it spells it out right there. 

I'll spare the history of why this became the case, but the purpose of the TDART program is to facilitate the qualification of a future career civil servant, and served as an olive branch for folks to stick around in light of high airline hiring (regionals, in the case of the co-pilot/basic wingman types). It's not and never was intended to be a conduit to help you keep your seniority number and retirement credits at a civilian employer you intended to return to. That's what MPA/RPA/IMA/AGR/CDE order statuses are for.

You're not the first nor the last person to posit/request/kvetch/lobby for the allowance to make ART jobs treated as title 10 or 32 status (it's title 5 btw, if you're wondering). I'm not trying to patronize you, and don't shoot the messenger, but  it's a pipedream you're latching on to with this ART USERRA business. By all means, contact your congressman,  and the USERRA support govt agency (the ESGR) if it makes you feel better. I'm just trying to get you to focus your energy more strategically, before you go say the wrong thing back at the unit and effectively get yourself on the entitled-shitbag list when it comes to full time opportunities in the future.

BL, Don't look at a gift horse in the mouth. You got real enviable options considering this Corona economic environment.

 

 

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@hindsight2020 Didn't MT use to be longer to accommodate a longer Title 10 seasoning period, and weren't MT tours reduced in conjunction with the creation of the TDART program? Speaking for my own little slice of life (the bomber world), it used to be two years, now it's (I want to say) 260 days between MQT proper and seasoning. In fact WSOs still get two years thanks to a drug deal between units, the FAM, and AFRC/A3 because there isn't yet a WSO TDART program.

I had a vague awareness of these issues from hearing about them in my B-52 unit, and when I crossflowed to the B-1 I actually called the AFRC/A3 POC on these issues (as listed on their Sharepoint) to ask about the WSO handshake deal (because I had seen it in writing in a memo from AFRC) and what was noteworthy to me was that the guy I got on the line and my FAM were not at all on the same page about the purpose of seasoning. My FAM believed that the purpose of seasoning was to get a new crewmember to CMR-E status so currency in a Vol.1/RTM sense would be achievable on a TR schedule—and viewed TDART for pilots and longer MT orders for WSOs to be the means to that end. Nothing about serving as seed corn for the viability of the ART program. The A3 POC, on the other hand, articulated it basically as you just expressed it... "Seasoning" is just the shorter MT period, and it exists to build airmanship at an intangible level (not necessarily to Vol. 1 CMR-E hours thresholds), and TDART exists for the separate purpose of facilitating the ART program in an economic manner. Wish everyone would get on the same page.

I'm not disagreeing with you at all that how you're putting it isn't how it is... I just don't think the way it is is the best solution for our institution or our folks. It seems to me that the current MT lengths on the Prog Tour spreadsheet don't get our new guys to where the unit needs them to be,  and at least in my neck of the woods where the unit has very little RPA and RegAF is starting to put strings on MPA, the remaining mechanism in place to get them where we need them to be forces them into what I consider a disadvantageous full time status (i.e. no USERRA, Blue Cross instead of Tricare Reserve Select, no retirement age reduction). I grant you I came into AFRC with a negative outlook on the ART program for a few reasons (health care + had 12 years active duty, so more interested in 7305 than federal retirement + am a WSO, so GS-12 vs. GS-13 for pilots was a negative selling point) that don't all line up with New Guy interests.

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Message received. Again, my unit has been more than awesome about everything and no part of the post was meant to say they’ve been anything less than stellar. I have zero expectations of them to accommodate me any more than anyone else.

I was curious for a better understanding of Big Reserves’ reasons for creating the position, their goals with the program, and whether there was hope of change in the bigger picture when it comes to USERRA and TDART. I have enjoyed the military environment, as has my family, and the opportunity to fly/become a better pilot, so trying to figure out how to prolong my time in this world without too much damage to the finances or security provided by my civilian career is my reason for asking. If I don’t ask, I don’t know what’s possible, and knowing what’s possible helps make a big decision clearer.

I certainly do not mean to come off as an entitled ball bag expecting to get my way, if that’s what this sounded like. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to get this far and will have in the future due to this. 

I don’t mean to be putting my foot in my mouth if that’s how it’s coming across, so I’ll take my crayons outta my nose and go color. Thank to all for the info. 

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Given how the current airline hiring environment is looking, don't expect anybody to be in a hurry to fix anything about the ART program. As far as big blue is concerned, they've solved the pilot shortage.

My biggest complaint about the ART is the time off issue. Everyone seems to have grand plans for getting paid from two sources on the same day, getting UTA on top of civil pay, etc., but ask if there's a way to avoid working 12 days straight once a month and people look at you like you have three heads.

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