Whether it was solving major convention issues, listening to speeches from Washington power players, or honoring union legends for years of great service, the 14th biennial NATCA convention had something for every one of its attendees. Held last week at the Hyatt Regency Denver, the convention lasted just three days but its memories will reverberate far longer than that.
The over 1,300 members who traveled to Colorado for the convention heard speeches from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter. They saw two former NATCA presidents, Barry Krasner and John Carr, take the gavel on Thursday and hold court over convention business. They bestowed awards upon some of the union’s most influential members, and so much more.
The event started Wednesday on a literal high note, as AnnMarie Taggio of Charlotte ATCT performed a rousing rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.” NATCA President Paul Rinaldi was at the dais throughout the day, as members made a number of alterations to the union’s Constitution.
Giving them the business
Convention business, normally an exhausting and time-consuming process, went extremely smooth last week. What was expected to run over time and possibly go through all three days was wrapped up before 4 p.m. on Friday. Members voted to move from the By-Laws to the Constitution a rule prohibiting NATCA members from holding a union position for 12 months if they leave to become a manager at any point.
The union also elected to prohibit write-in votes from all NATCA elections at every level, which will naturally save both time and money. Also, future convention planning committees will likely have a more geographically diverse composition, as the delegates removed restrictions on who can serve on the committee. Previously, the committee had to be comprised mostly of members from the host region; organizers for the 2014 convention testified that they wanted more freedom to pick people who had helped plan previous events.
On Thursday, with for
mer president John Carr at the gavel, the body reaffirmed their support of the mandatory retirement age of 56.
Beyond debating the NATCA Constitution, the membership took a lot of time to honor controllers and staff who have left an indelible mark on the union. Both former President Pat Forrey and current Eastern Regional Vice President Phil Barbarello were honored by having rooms in the Washington D.C. National Office named after them.
On Friday, 10 NATCA members and staff who have gone above and beyond were recognized with the Tim Haines Memorial Award of Honor and Distinction, commonly referred to as the “Timmy.” These awards were renamed to remember Haines’s legacy, which included ATC reclassification.
The national staff was also brought on stage to be honored, and New York TRACON Facility Representative Dean Iacopelli honored Deputy General Counsel Eugene Freedman for his years of great service and significant notable accomplishments in the representation of NATCA members in the Special Grievance Process outlined by the 2006 Mediation to Finality Panel.
Beyond business and awards, the convention served to connect the last 25 years of NATCA and the next few decades. NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert spoke about the incredible advancements in safety and workforce relations that the union has aggressively advocated for and worked hard to attain.
Rinaldi and the five previous NATCA presidents all gathered on Wednesday and were essentially a human anthology of the union. Having worked with three Republican and two Democratic presidents, they discussed the differences in relations between administrations, and how the organization has evolved so positively over the past two and a half decades.
On Friday, the focus shifted towards the future of the union, and nine members, several with 10 or fewer years of service, spoke about how they came to be NATCA members and where they and their brothers and sisters are headed in the years to come. Some speakers had ATC service in their family lineage, while others weren’t even NATCA members at the start of their FAA tenure. It was a diverse group of leaders, yet representative of the strong, young talent coursing through the union.
Outside the Hall
While most of the official action took place inside the Centennial Ballroom at the Hyatt, the entire area around the hotel was filled with excitement. Exhibitors packed the main floor of the hotel pitching aviation and safety-related items, while staff members and volunteers registered delegates and made sure they had access to the official events each day.
Attendees were also treated to some social events they will likely remember for the rest of their lives. On Wednesday night, NATCA held regional dinners at the Hard Rock Café and Maggianos.
The next day, they were treated to a raucous concert at the NATCA Reloaded Solidarity event from Tom Morello, whom Rolling Stone magazine rated the 26th best guitarist of all time. He showed why he earned both that honor and his reputation as a strong union supporter, playing an hour of his pro-labor songs. And Friday night, NATCA members celebrated the end of an extremely successful week while being treated to an all-pro experience at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, home of the Denver Broncos.
The NATCA communications staff, led by Associate Director of Communications, Art & Design Laura Roose, and Executive Administrative Assistant Abigail Glenn-Chase published daily newspapers throughout convention. Below are links to the three issues produced, available in PDF form:
Wednesday, March 28
NATCA Daily Dispatch: Wednesday
Thursday, March 29
NATCA Daily Dispatch: Thursday
Friday, March 30
NATCA Daily Dispatch: Friday
Due to Hatch Act restrictions, please do not post these newsletters in the facility.
Thanks to all the NATCA staff and NATCA members that helped put on such a phenomenal event. Also thanks to the Convention, IT, Reloaded, RNAV, CISM, OSHA, Credentials, Rules and Standing Committees, local volunteers, NATCA Charitable Foundation, Collaborative RCs, WE, Future Leaders panelists, delegates, alternates, the NEB, former officers, guests, speakers and of course our many sponsors.