Member Spotlight: Kevin Bianchi, New England Region
Friday, January 27, 2012
This is the fifth in a series of articles spotlighting veteran NATCA members looking back at the first 25 years of the union leading up to the June 19, 2012, silver anniversary of NATCA's Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) certification. We'll profile one member each month from each of the 10 regions, in addition to also remembering key events that have helped shape the union and its growth as a strong advocate for its members and aviation safety.
Pictured above: Kevin, wife Lisa, daughter Olivia, my son Garrett. Not pictured is daughter Nicole
For Boston Center (ZBW) President Kevin Bianchi NATCA means having a voice that will be heard one that will benefit his NATCA brothers and sisters, not just him.
“We’re a collective voice,” said Bianchi. “We always strive to better NATCA and not one individual person.”
Bianchi was hired by the FAA in Aug. 1988 and joined NATCA only two months later. Having been a member of the Textile Workers Union for 18 months just after high school, he learned a valuable lesson about organized labor.
“It definitely enlightened me to the need for a union; being a part of it and having my voice heard,” he said.
In addition to being ZBW President since 2004, Bianchi has been on the Office of Workers Compensation Program (OWCP) Committee since 2000 and the Chairman since 2009. He began getting involved in leadership roles by running for ZBW Area Representative in 1992 and holding that position until 2000, when he was elected as ZBW Vice President.
Working at ZBW since 1988, Bianchi knows the NATCA New England Region (NNE) like the back of his hand. Although some regions have different issues than others, Bianchi said that’s never been the case with his region.
“I think we are all fighting the same thing,” said Bianchi. “I can’t think of an issue that’s different than the rest of the country.”
That’s not to say NNE hasn’t encountered some challenges throughout the years. Bianchi said the main issue for NNE and the rest of NATCA has been getting a fair and honest contract, one that is not imposed.
He explained the Green Book, the 2003 NATCA Collective Bargaining Agreement, was an agreement that involved controllers and collaboration in every aspect of its development. That was not the case with The White Book, the 2006 FAA Imposed Work Rules (IWR) for Air Traffic Controllers (ATC), Traffic Management Units (TMU) and Notices To Airmen (NOTAM).
“They [the FAA] took everything away, everything we had been doing for six years,” said Bianchi. “All of a sudden they didn’t think they needed us anymore so we were shut out. They didn’t want to talk to us at any level, about anything.”
According to Bianchi, the FAA is more approachable now under the Red Book, the 2009 ATC-TMU-NOTAMs Collective Bargaining Agreement.
“Right now we are back to somewhat where we were in the Green Book years, and we are involved in almost every facet of the FAA,” he said.
Bianchi said the NATCA members of NNE have reaped many benefits throughout the union’s first 25 years, noting the top benefits have been in the areas of pay and compensation and in legislative affairs. He explained NATCA has given its members a voice in negotiations over pay and compensation, allowing them to move away from the General Schedule (GS) pay scale and eliminate the pay imposed by the White Book. The NATCA Political Action Committee (PAC) has given controllers a voice in the legislative affairs that impact their work, such as preventing the FAA from deploying new technologies without controller input.
Realizing how fortunate he has been, Bianchi’s advice to future generations of NATCA is to realize just how lucky they are to be represented and to get involved to keep the union strong.
“Get involved at the local level, whether it’s just showing up to a membership meeting or walking into the office and talking to your facility representative,” he said. “Ask questions, everyone is approachable. No one is shut out. It’s your union.”
Bianchi is eligible to retire in early 2013, but he won’t be leaving anytime soon.
“I love this profession. I have no plans for retiring at this time.”