Celebrating NATCA’s 25th Anniversary!
Thursday, June 14, 2012

This week, as part of our celebration of NATCA’s 25th anniversary, we are looking back at the historic vote on June 11, 1987, that led to NATCA's certification. On that day, the vote was tallied with 84 percent of the controller workforce that cast ballots in a mail-in election to decide whether NATCA would be their exclusive bargaining representative.

The results: 7,494 to 3,275. A margin of 70 percent voted "yes" to NATCA!
Charter members began signing membership applications as well as dues withholding forms.
This excerpt from "Against the Wind, The History of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association," by Paul McElroy (Pages 90-91), captures the scene and the mood from the date of the vote:
"Morning edged into afternoon without a formal lunch break and the stacks on the "yes" table gradually mounted. In time, they dwarfed those on the "no" table. The controllers smiled and nudged each other while the FAA managers grew increasingly subdued. Eighty-four percent of the work force cast ballots. After the last one was counted, the tally stood at 7,494-3,275 -- a margin of 70 percent, exactly as [NATCA national organizer John] Thornton had predicted.
"Thornton and the board members shook hands, hugged each other, and tried to keep mum about the victory as they shouldered past a thicket of reporters outside the building. The official announcement would be made at MEBA (Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association) headquarters. But they couldn't contain their ear-to-ear grins and [New England Regional Representative Howie] Barte discreetly gave one reporter a thumbs-up signal.
"Back at MEBA's offices, they joined other controllers who'd been anxiously awaiting the results. [MEBA President Gene] DeFries and Thornton each spoke into a forest of microphones to announce the historic news to a mob of reporters and television camera crews. Afterward, controllers, FAA officials, other dignitaries, and journalists milled about a reception on the second floor. The FAA managers wore gold NATCA pins in a show of respect but, privately, they were stunned the union had garnered so much support.
"During the celebration, a member of Congress approached an exhausted [Southwest Regional Representative Ed] Mullin, who was sitting in a corner nursing a drink. "You people have no idea what you did," the politician said. "They never saw this coming." Reflecting on the accomplishment now, Mullin agrees. "To do it after an apocalyptic event but before Reagan left the White House, and during an anti-union decade with Pepsi-generation people was quite astounding," he says.
DeFries characterizes the results as a “victory for all air traffic controllers who have carried the nation’s air traffic system on their backs for nearly six years with excessive overtime and stress.”

Eight days later, on June 19, 1987, the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) certified the election results.

The following pictures exemplify the culmination of NATCA's campaign to represent air traffic controllers captured the attention of journalists from around the world. After the Federal Labor Relations Authority tallied the ballots — the vote passed by a 70 percent margin — the news was announced at the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association (MEBA).

Confident of victory, regional reps filled out NATCA membership applications and FAA form 1187, which authorized payroll deductions for union dues, in the morning before the votes were counted.

Help Us Mark This Historic and Special Occasion!

With NATCA’s 25th anniversary now just a few days away, how will your facility celebrate this exciting milestone? Will you have a local membership meeting or host other activities? We would love to hear from you. Please send your ideas and any photos / materials to Communications Specialist Hillary Stroud at hstroud@natcadc.org.

To kick things off, last week Indianapolis Center members shared a photo of their new T-shirts. Click here, to view this photo on the NATCA Facebook page:

National Office to Volunteer at SOME (So Others Might Eat)

The National Office will be celebrating the 25th Anniversary by giving back to the Washington, D.C., homeless and poor community. NATCA will be sponsoring lunch for the homeless and volunteering at SOME next Wednesday, June 20. The NATCA Charitable Foundation (NCF) has donated $1,000 to go towards SOME Summer Care Packages, which include essentials for the homeless to battle the harsh city summers.

Please Donate to the Wounded Warrior Project

As we've reported here in recent weeks, to celebrate our 25th anniversary, NATCA is proud to be joining with the Patriot Run Across America to honor and support the important Wounded Warrior Project. While John Pyle’s courageous Patriot Run Across America has concluded, our finish line has not yet been reached. But it’s well within sight.

We've reached $22,710 in donations. That leaves only a short distance to go to reach our goal of $25,000.

If you have already donated, thank you! If not, please join us in this effort to help our Wounded Warriors who have given so much to our nation.

To make a donation, please click HERE.

Special Edition Air Traffic Controller Newsletter

We have published a special 25th anniversary edition Air Traffic Controller newsletter. For an electronic PDF copy of this issue, please click HERE.