1993: NATCA’s First Lobby Week
Background: NATCA’s first national legislative week began on Sept. 20, 1993. At the time, more than 250 members participated in the inaugural “Lobby Week.” The Union launched the program to raise legislative awareness and provide an opportunity for members to meet their congressional representatives.
Notable Issues: NATCA members descended on Capitol Hill in support of H.R. 2663, also known as The Air Traffic Controller Incentive and Retention Act, which included premium pay for working Saturdays and boosted the controller operational differential from 5 to 15 percent. As a result of our members’ legislative activism, the number of co-sponsors for the legislation increased from 10 to 41.
While the bill was ultimately not enacted, it was a promising first effort by NATCA to influence the legislative process and began a yearly tradition of activism on Capitol Hill.
Read more: The Origin of Lobby Weeks
Archie League pioneered the air traffic control profession in 1929. League was employed by the city of St. Louis where every morning, he would pile equipment into a wheelbarrow he had rigged with an umbrella to protect him from the sun. He would trek across the 170-acre dirt airfield, position himself at the approach end of the runway, and wave his flags to issue holding and landing clearances for inbound pilots.
Read more: Early Air Traffic Control Challenges
Even before Steve Bell became NATCA President in 1988, he and other Union leaders advocated collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), dismissing traditional, contentious labor-management relations in favor of a partnership philosophy. Despite the FAA’s intolerant reputation, there were several professionals in the Agency who also embraced cooperation and hoped to avoid a repeat of the 1981 controller strike, opening the door to formalize a policy of working together.
Read more: Progress Through Partnership