2011 Union Plus Scholarship Winners Announced
Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Union Plus has recently awarded $150,000 in scholarships to 130 students as part of its 2011 Union Plus Scholarship Program. NATCA was one of the 43 unions participating, and we are excited to announce our awarded members/family members. Congratulations to 2011 program recipients David Whisnant, Connor Konz, Austin Madrid and Garrett Bianchi!

Each year, Union Plus awards these scholarships to students attending a two-year college, four-year college, graduate school or a recognized technical or trade school, with recipients selected based on academic ability, social awareness, financial need and appreciation of labor. Since starting the program in 1991, Union Plus has awarded $3 million in educational funding to more than 2,100 union members, spouses and dependent children.

This year saw a huge turnout as the application process turned electronic, allowing applicants the flexibility to come back and complete unfinished forms on their own time. Thank you to everyone who participated, and we encourage you to be on the lookout for next year's scholarship program!

Meet the 2011 NATCA Honorees

Local A11—David Whisnant

David Whisnant of Eagle River, Alaska, who is a member of NATCA Local A11, has been awarded a $750 scholarship. As a longtime NATCA member, David has helped thousands of planes to land safely. Now, as he contemplates retirement, David is about to take off on a new career as a commercial pilot. He already has obtained his private pilot’s license, and is studying to receive his commercial license, instrument rating and multiengine rating. David also has been a union leader, holding several positions in his local, and he expresses his gratitude for the pay and benefits he has enjoyed for more than two decades. “I will never be able to thank my union enough,” he says.   


Local I90—Connor Konz

Connor Konz of Humble, Texas, whose father Charles Konz III is a member of NATCA Local I90, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship. Two years ago, two-time scholarship winner Connor spent months in the hospital. It was an extremely trying time for his whole family. Of course, the health insurance provided by his father, a longtime NATCA member, made a big difference. But for Connor it was the intangible benefit of having his father by his side, thanks to NATCA benefits and the Family and Medical Leave Act that NATCA and so many other unions fought for that really made the difference. “Because NATCA protects and supports my father, he is able to protect and support his family,” Connor says. An actor since childhood, Connor is majoring in drama. 


Local ZAB—Austin Madrid

Austin Madrid of Albuquerque, N.M., whose father Phillip Madrid is a member of NATCA Local ZAB, has been awarded a $500 scholarship. Air traffic controllers and filmmakers may not seem to have much in common. But high-achieving film student Austin says there is one important connection. His father is a NATCA member and, Austin says, “The benefits he has received from this union have directly influenced my life.” Now, as Austin prepares to take his education and career in a completely different direction, he plans to make sure he becomes a union member just like his father. “Guilds and unions help to ensure that workers are still able to make a living,” he says, “and because of this they will play an enormous role in my future.” 


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Local ZBW—Garrett Bianchi

Garrett Bianchi of Milford, N.H., whose father Kevin Bianchi is a member of NATCA Local ZBW, has been awarded a $500 scholarship.  Garrett is pursuing a degree in mobile diesel mechanics technology, with a minor in welding technologies. His dream is to start his own business, and when he does he plans to make sure it’s a union shop. “I can’t begin to express on paper what the labor movement has meant to my family,” he says, listing “stable jobs, good health care and the ability to retire with pensions” as being just some of the benefits of growing up union.

To view the Union Plus press release featuring these NATCA winners, as well as the upcoming membership benefits you may find useful, click here:

For more information on the Union Plus programs and benefits open to NATCA members, please visit the Benefits section of the members' site.