Member Focus: Tony Walsh (ZMP)
Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tony Walsh (left) pictured with Senator Al Franken, D-Minn.

Air traffic control career:
1990, Army National Guard. 1997, hired by the FAA. Worked at New York Center (ZNY), his first facility, until 2002. Resigned from the Agency and went back to Minnesota. Got reinstated at Minneapolis Center (ZMP) in 2005, where he currently works as an air traffic controller.

Born and raised, other places of living:
Anoka, Minn. Also lived in New York.

Q: How did you become a NATCA member?

A: At my first facility, I joined right away as it was on the East Coast and it has a high percentage of membership there. My father was also a Union Operating Engineer Local 49er, so I knew what being a union member meant. Once I got to ZMP I joined right away.

Q: How did you get involved and what are you involved in with NATCA?

A: When I first started at ZMP, I went to NATCA in Washington. I was really into politics, so I thought this was a good opportunity to get involved. I didn't do much as far as local involvement at New York. But I got hooked when I came to ZMP and first became a legislative rep. Then I helped with Reloaded for short period of time. And now I'm the vice president for the center.

Q: What made you decide to take on leadership roles within NATCA?

A: Just going out to national events such as NATCA in Washington. It's there that you realize how many people are working behind the scenes. I think one of the perspectives from a local standpoint is if you don't attend anything nationally, you don't realize how many people are involved. There are so many members and people working hard for NATCA.  Since moving on from the legislative rep job I’ve moved over to the labor relations side. I just recently was added to the labor relations team in the Great Lakes Region.

Q: What can you tell people about labor relations if they're interested?

A: First thing I'd say if it's something that interests you, don't hesitate to get involved. NATCA does a great job at educating and training. There's no reason you should not do something you're passionate about. For the new membership, we need to continue to have individuals gaining experience and involvement, and the only way to do that is to get in these positions and do the job.

Q. What can you tell others about what you do as vice president of a facility

A. Locally, I take some of the things off the FacRep's plate so that he has more time to work one-on-one with members. That way if an individual has an issue, he or she is able to speak personally with the FacRep. So it's a lot of busy work such as LR stuff, grievances, negotiating, etc.

Q: What can you tell me about next year's Biennial Convention since it will be held in Minneapolis?

A: Minneapolis is a great city. We have great entertainment such as professional sports teams and a theater district. The fall is beautiful with all the changing leaves. We have several lakes in the city, yet you're in a very urban environment. So you can enjoy the entertainment the city has to offer but also still have access to the outdoors. Minneapolis is also an ideal spot for this event because we are centrally located to everyone as far as travel goes.

Q: Do you have any hobbies or any other activities you enjoy outside of NATCA?

A: I like to hunt and fish. I also have four kids that keep me pretty busy. One of my girls has really gotten into lacrosse. It's of course huge on the East Coast, but it's becoming bigger in the Midwest.

Q: Has there been a favorite moment for you while at NATCA?

A: When I was in NATCA in Washington, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla., gave a speech and was just super fired up about NATCA and its controllers. It was amazing to me that a member of Congress can get that enthusiastic about aviation and air traffic control.

Q: Do you have any advice/tips/messages for members who would like to get involved?

A: Best piece of advice that I try to give to newer members is don't be intimidated. When I first got here the ZMP FacRep had been in his position for quite a few years. I thought “I can't offer this guy anything, he's knows so much more than me. “But that's not true; you might be able to offer so much if you just try it. Don't be intimidated to ask a question or jump in to say, “I have skills and insight I can offer." We're all controllers at heart, and we all have something to offer.