Member Focus: Jeff Tyler (ESW)
Friday, March 29, 2013

Jeff Tyler at the 2010 Hawaii Biennial Convention

NATCA/FAA career:
Graduated in the summer of 1987 from University of Texas at El Paso. Hired into the FAA directly after and started installing navigational equipment. Promoted to engineering where his job duties expanded to design of navigation sites and continued with the installation of the designed facility, what they called single point of contact. Around this time in 1995, NATCA unionized the engineers. Shortly after, Tyler became a local rep for the navigation engineering group.

Born and raised, other places of living: Born in Ayer, Mass., just outside of Boston. Dad was in the military, so the family moved all over the U.S., to places such as Oklahoma and Utah, but for the most part, he has lived in Texas for the majority of his life.

Education: University of Texas at El Paso, BSEE

Q: How did you become a NATCA member?

A: Engineers were trying to unionize in early 90s, looking at both PASS and NATCA. PASS didn't seem strong for what we were looking for, but NATCA controllers had a strong and organized union that really appealed to us. So we joined their union. I supported the unionization, although I wasn't involved in organizing efforts. But when NATCA requested members, I joined up right away.

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

A: One of the national reps at the time I was getting involved with was Pete Healy. He was looking for assistance and looking for reps to build somewhat of a platform for the navigation engineering group. Initially he just wanted some help, but I started asking him more questions and he was happy to help. I learned so much because I had access to his experience and all the issues and cases he dealt with I got to learn from. He was a resource to be utilized, and it built my confidence level up to where I eventually took the cases on myself. It really opened up my eyes to what management was doing and how NATCA could help out.

Q: As a majority of NATCA members are air traffic controllers, what can you tell them about your job as an engineer? What have you and your colleagues worked on that can teach those members more about what you do?

A: My job as an electronics engineer for navigational systems is to build (or relocate) ILS’ or VOR transmitter sites. Relocation normally caused by runway extension or the reconstruction of airspace.  

Q: What's the most rewarding part of being facility representative? What's the most challenging?

A: The most challenging is always trying to deal with management. They tend to put out proposals to take, for example, disciplinary action on an employee. Once they have it in their heads, they can be stubborn, frustrating and challenging to work with, especially when their actions could have devastating impacts on employees. However, on the flip side, it's rewarding when you're able to help and protect an employee and do some good. We recently had an employee who was accused of lying and was fired. We were able to show that he wasn't and that he was wronged by being fired; Shortly after, he was re-hired. That was really great.

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

A: I do like to play golf, although it's been a long time since I'm so busy. I have to reserve 5 hours, and I just don't have that kind of time. I also like riding my motorcycle, but that's another thing I don't ever have much time for.

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

A: I'd say again, when that employee who was fired and we got them re-hired with back pay was really great. I also enjoy our local meetings we hold once a month. Before the meeting gets started we have a meal and it's somewhat like a social, and it can be pretty fun.

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

A: As much work as it sounds like, it's not that bad. We tend to complain more about it than we probably should, but it's not as scary as we make it out to be. There's always somebody there to help, and you're never alone!