Member Focus: Joe Yannone
Friday, November 08, 2013

NATCA/FAA career: I started with the FAA as an Operational Support Engineer in 1994, after a few years with the Department of the Navy as a Radar Systems Engineer.  Prior to that, I maintained NavAids and Radar equipment in the US Marine Corps.  I joined NATCA after we organized the engineers at the Tech Center in 2001 and haven’t looked back since.

Born and raised, other places of living: I was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pa.  I lived, for short stints, in Tennessee, California and the friendly land of Parris Island, S.C. while in the US Marine Corps.  I returned to the Philadelphia area for college while still in the Marine Reserves.  I currently live with my family in South Jersey near the Technical Center.

Education: I graduated from Drexel University with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, minoring in Mathematics.

Family: I have been married to the lovely Leilani for 14 years and we have one beautiful daughter – Alia, who is 11 years old (and totally has me wrapped around her finger).


Yannone and his family enjoy time on a friend's boat this summer.

Q: How did you become a NATCA member?  

A: I owe it all to those much, much smarter than I – the regional engineers.  They organized before us, realizing that our professional careers as engineers would have been minimized by the Agency had we not unionized.  In 2001, we in Ops Support Engineering at the Tech Center saw the light and I helped organize our group (which eventually consolidated into the Engineers and Architects unit) and have been a member ever since.  

Q: Do you have any family members who were involved in unions?  

A: My father was a Philly cop for 36 years and while he wasn’t as involved with his union like I am with NATCA, he was all about helping others.  And I think helping others is what our Union is all about.

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

A: Jim D’Agati, who was the Region X Regional Vice President at the time, its all his fault!  Jim assisted us in getting organized with NATCA.  Soon after we organized, I became the local rep and Jim asked me to be member of the AOS Engineers contract team. I have been on several contract teams and workgroups, the Region X ARVP, the GATS Advisory team and on the IT Committee.  I still occasionally assist with GATS/UnionWare/ListServ administration and occasionally am pulled into discussions with the Agency whenever there is a personnel security breach, as the NATCA’s National Security Czar (my self-appointed “cool” title).  However my main concentration these days is either with the Dues workgroup, the Section 804 workgroup or with the Safety Department as an Article 48 Rep dealing with Surveillance/Radar Issues, working mainly with the TAMR and SBS/Fusion teams.

Q: What would you like to get involved in that you haven't already?  

A: Nothing currently because I really enjoy the work I’m doing with the Safety Department.  I do look at the different opportunities that come up from time to time to see if there is anything else that pops up that might interest me.  

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

A: I enjoy spending as much time with my wife and daughter as we can fit in with our busy schedules.  We like to travel together and enjoy time with our friends and family.  My favorite sporting events these days are either watching my daughter compete in gymnastics meets or walking our dog.  I am cursed with being an Eagles and Phillies fan, so watching my daughter perform gymnastics is much more fulfilling these days because she’s an actual winner – she was one of the top 100 in the Nation last year at her level; 41st in the USA to be more accurate, so I guess my biggest hobby is being an obnoxiously proud dad.  The rare times I get on the golf course, I really enjoy myself – despite being really, really bad at the game.  Regardless of my bad golf play, the best part is spending time outdoors with friends while burning a good cigar.

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

A: Wow, so many great moments.  Walking into my first convention comes to mind.  It was so very impressive.  I still feel very honored that several members of the NEB took the time to push, prod and poke the Agency into submission (and that people like Dale Wright and Mitch Herrick thought I’d be useful), so that I could represent our Union regarding safety related issues as one of the first non-controller Article 48 reps.  

But what sticks out most in my mind is something that happened less than a month ago:  Attending my first NATCA rally.  The bus tour to the Hill.  When NATCA organized the aviation rally to urge Congress to “Stop the shutdown now” I asked myself,  “how can I not attend this event?”  I’m so glad that I did.  We have such an impressive leadership and membership.  Members took the risk of not getting paid because they took leave that day to attend.  Members brought their young children with them to show the next generation what activism is all about.  The National Office staff was out there with us.  Paul and Trish lead the way.  From start to finish and from bottom to top, NATCA once again—always! —demonstrates why it is THE premier organization that it is.  I would put our Union up against ANY other organization, and we’d shine every time.

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

A: Just ask.  Ask your local rep, ask another member who’s involved in some aspect.  Don’t hesitate, just do it.  NATCA wants you to be involved.  Labor Relations doesn’t do it for you?  Well then what about safety or new technology?  How about legislative activities?  Thinking up new benefits for the membership?  And there is so much more.  There is something for everyone and anyone. My Lord, I’m the poster child for that. I’m a number crunching Excel geek who knows radar systems.  Who in their right mind would think there could be some value in that?  NATCA found it.  Just take that first step and ask.  Teddy Roosevelt once said, “In any situation, the best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Let’s go beyond your involvement in NATCA.

If I could pick four people to have dinner with, dead or alive, I would choose:  My Dad.  He passed away five years ago. I miss him every day and would love the chance to sit down, talk and break bread with him again.  My brother because I know he would love that same chance.  Jerry Seinfeld and Ray Romano because they made my Dad laugh and that’s what we would be doing the entire time.
The one thing that always makes me laugh is: My daughter Alia.  Every day, several times.
The funniest movie I have ever seen is:  Wedding Crashers.
The best place I've ever travelled to was:  Almaty, Kazakhstan.
My favorite quote is:  “Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.” 
My celebrity crush is:  Trish Gilbert, of course!  :)