NATCA Honors Past President Patrick Forrey
Thursday, September 13, 2012

The great leadership that has helped build NATCA in its first 25 years is honored at the National Office in several ways. The building itself is named for the union’s first two-term President and current Executive Director, Barry Krasner. The main floor conference room is named for the third President, Mike McNally, while the outdoor terrace – the “Bullpen” – is named for NATCA’s second two-term President, John Carr.

Last Monday, NATCA formally dedicated the National Office's large fifth floor conference room to NATCA's fifth President, Patrick Forrey, who served from 2006-2009, capping two decades as an elected NATCA representative. NATCA leaders past and present joined National Office staff employees and honored guests in filling the McNally Conference Room to recognize and honor Forrey for his many achievements.

"It's been quite a privilege to serve this union. I didn't expect anything like this. It's great," said Forrey, who thanked NATCA members, leadership and staff. "I was just another cog in the wheel. But I believed in everything I did."

Forrey enjoyed a 23-year career at Cleveland Center and, before taking office as President, served two three-year terms as Great Lakes Regional Vice President. But his legacy goes beyond that, said current NATCA President Paul Rinaldi, who served as Executive Vice President during Forrey’s term and emceed Monday’s event.

“Pat’s strength was his ability to build strong relationships. That served this union well. He helped keep it together to fight some of NATCA's greatest challenges. He fought against a strongly anti-union FAA leadership under the last administration and the imposed White Book,” Rinaldi said.

With many strong relationships on Capitol Hill, including a great working relationship with Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Ill., the former Chairman and current Ranking Member of the House Aviation Subcommittee, Forrey was able to fight the imposed work and pay rules. Success came at the end of his term in office, when he signed the Red Book contract for NATCA, restoring fairness to the collective bargaining process and stability to the workforce.

Earlier in his career, Forrey served on the original Reclassification Team, which helped bring about one of NATCA's greatest achievements by providing a groundbreaking and lasting pay classification system for controllers. The reclass effort, for the first time, incorporated complexity formulas, into facility pay setting.

During the dedication, past and present union leaders and NATCA supporters stepped up to the podium to remember Forrey's dedication and hard work.

Great Lakes Regional Vice President Bryan Zilonis, who succeeded Forrey as RVP and is now in his third term, said, "Coming from the Great Lakes Region, first as a FacRep and then as the RVP, I've had the honor of living in the shadow of Pat Forrey."

Ed Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department (TTD), AFL-CIO, noted the sign that read, "Undivided," on the podium and talked about NATCA staying strong and united during some dark days at the FAA.

"No matter how difficult the politics can get, an organization's agenda and the needs of its members always endure,” Wytkind said. “All of you had a hand in this fight. You took away the weapon used by (Marion) Blakey."

Wytkind added, "NATCA exists to keep people safe. Seeing this leadership is a testament to that."

Costello was a special guest at the event and was eager to speak to Forrey’s dedication to the Union.

"It was important to me to come here and pay tribute to you and what you have done for NATCA."

Costello said Forrey was there behind the scenes every day fighting for NATCA, and much of what the union has today is in large part due to Forrey's endeavors.

"You have a contract and benefits today, and Pat helped lay the foundation for that contract,” Costello said. “Pat was there every step of the way, fighting for this union."

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi, Rep. Costello and Patrick Forrey

Today, Forrey serves as Executive Vice President, Technical, for the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFATCA), which allows him the ability to continue his passion and love for keeping the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS) the safest and most efficient in the world.

"I love my profession and the people I have worked with,” Forrey said. “To be in the same room with these other presidents, it's a great honor."

Forrey also paid a special, heartfelt tribute to his wife, Maggie, who sat next to him at the event. He recounted a recent story where a young NATCA representative approached him and asked for his advice on how to juggle his family life at home and his responsibilities for the union. Forrey said he told the representative that it's important to have someone at home that supports you and understands that "you love what you do, and it's important to your livelihood and your family. That's what I have in Maggie."

"It's been a wonderful career,” Forrey said. “I love you folks like my family.”