Member Focus: Chris Perks (Philadelphia)
Friday, May 03, 2013

Chris Perks, with wife Debby.

Air traffic control career: Was in the United States Air Force from 2000-2004. Worked as a radar controller at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina. Moved to North Carolina and has been working as a tower and radar controller with the Air National Guard, the 235th ATCS from 2004-present. Deployed as a tower controller to Baghdad International Airport in 2005 and 2006. Currently Master Sergeant, Assistant Chief Controller for the Radar Controllers. Worked at Northeast Philadelphia Tower (PNE), 2008-2011, now works at Philadelphia Tower (PHL).

Born and raised, other places of residence: Born and raised in Philadelphia. Lived in South Carolina as active duty in the Air Force, and lived in North Carolina as a full-time Guardsman.

Education: Bachelors Degree in History from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Family: Married to a beautiful woman named Debby, who gave birth to our first child on April 15, a little boy named Jake (left).

Q: How did you become a NATCA member?

A: I joined when I started at my first facility, Northeast Philadelphia Tower (PNE).

Q: Did you have any family union members?

A: My father was a union representative within the Philadelphia School District. My uncles are or were, now retired, members of the Philadelphia Police union. My grandfather was a union roofer in Philadelphia, and I had another grandfather who was a union mailman.

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

A: I started at a small local and wasn’t really sure that we were being represented well. A few of us new members began looking into NATCA more and found out that we needed to get our local back on track with how a real local should operate. I was elected vice president and a short time later the FacRep transferred out, making me the new FacRep. I took my duties seriously and began working on many fronts to improve PNE (North Philadelphia) local. With the help of some members, Don Chapman and the PHL Executive Board, Andy Lewis, Brian Dowd, Frank Savasta, Phil Gallagher, Kieron Heflin, Matt Sullivan and, of course, Phil Barbarello, we were able to make PNE a viable local again. During this time, I saw how important NATCA is for the controller workforce and how hard people are working on our behalf throughout the country, which only strengthened my resolve to learn more and become the best NATCAvist I could be.

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

A: I began going to regional meetings, where I got to see firsthand how impressive my brothers and sisters are and realized that most of the members working so hard are veterans. These folks won’t be here forever, so I decided then to pursue any opportunity to surround myself with these members and learn everything I could so that their knowledge and experience would not be lost. That’s when I started going to the NATCA Academy courses and immersing myself in whatever I could get my hands on. This led me to the two things that really interested me within our organization: LMR (labor management relations) and Constitution/Roberts Rules.

Q: What can you tell others about what the Constitution Committee does? What are your tasks with the committee? What do you enjoy the most about it?

A: The Constitution Committee has several duties as described in our National Constitution and Committee Charter. Primarily, the committee assists the NEB in formulating interpretations to our National Constitution when members have questions or concerns about the impact or implementation of portions of the Union’s Bylaws. Secondly, the Committee is charged with preparing for our conventions. In preparation for the convention, we assist those who make proposed amendments/resolutions to ensure they are properly formatted for clarity. We review all proposed amendments/resolutions to ensure nothing is against any law or rule and publish them for the membership. During the convention, we act as the Convention Rules Committee, setting the tone of the convention to ensure efficiency. Lastly, the Committee is charged with helping locals with their constitutions and act as a resource for locals and individual members that have questions or concerns.

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

A: I have attended most of the NATCA Academy courses. FacRep school, local officer training, Drug/Alcohol Testing, Arbitration I and II. Each of these classes were great, and I could easily say they were some of my favorite moments, but what I learned in those classes gave me the knowledge to truly appreciate what I can consider my actual favorite NATCA moments. My favorite moments thus far have been listening to the friendly banter/arguing between Phil, Dean, Don, Julio and Chris about how to proceed with Regional LMR cases in preparation for quarterly PARs (Pre-Arbitration Review) and the business of the Union in general. Attending the academy courses made listening to this “friendly” dialogue an extension of my training. Class was great, but seeing the real thing in action was priceless.

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

A: Those brothers and sisters that have made our Union so strong are happy to instill their wisdom and experience, but you have to want to attain it. Over the next decade, many of our members, who have fought during good and bad times on our behalf, will be on a beach somewhere sipping drinks and enjoying their retirement. Don’t let them retire without learning everything you can so we can make the Union even stronger. Go to your local E-Board and offer them your assistance. Ask questions. Volunteer your time. Attend your local meetings and go to NATCA training courses.