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Air Traffic Controller, Leader, Visionary, Defined Union Solidarity and Brotherhood For Multiple Generations of NATCA-Represented Aviation Safety Professionals

WASHINGTON – Barry Krasner, a charter and founding member of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) who led the Union as its first two-term president, served as its chief negotiator for many collective bargaining agreements, and exemplified the ideals of solidarity and unity for several generations of aviation safety professionals represented by NATCA, passed away this morning. He was 65.

“The word that best describes Barry and what he has meant to NATCA is cornerstone,” NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said. “The strongest part of your foundation is the cornerstone. It is the beginning, the strength, and the support upon which everything is built. Barry is truly the cornerstone of NATCA. He set the course for three decades and gave us the guidance and direction we needed. He was a friend, a mentor, the consummate negotiator, and a groundbreaking visionary for NATCA’s desire to organize and grow, and become a strong voice in the house of labor.”

Krasner began his Federal Aviation Administration career in January 1982, working as an air traffic controller at the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON), where he spent the next 26 years before retiring in 2008. He was involved in the original organizing drive to begin a new union for controllers in the mid-1980s and was instrumental in shaping its foundation and path forward, first as a charter member when NATCA received Federal Labor Relations Authority certification in 1987, next as Eastern Regional representative from 1988-91, and then as its President from 1991-97.

He is survived by his wife of 27 years, Sallie Sullivan-Krasner, and their children and grandchildren.

“There are so many wonderful things to say about a man that means so much to so many,” NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert said. “He is a NATCA Iegend, visionary, leader, mentor and beloved friend. He fought many, many battles on behalf of the men and women represented by NATCA. The fighter in him beat the odds as he lived life to the fullest these last several years with the love of his life Sallie. RIP Barry, you will never be forgotten.”

Krasner left a lasting legacy on the Union. His Union career was shaped primarily during the 90s. He then remained an integral part of NATCA’s heart and soul – and labor relations and contract negotiating efforts – through his 2008 retirement from the FAA. After that, he stayed with NATCA as a staff member at its national headquarters and as executive director before retiring in 2014. His decades of leadership of NATCA’s collective bargaining leaves a permanent legacy as his negotiated words continue to protect the Union’s members.

Krasner was a longtime survivor of pancreatic cancer. Years ago, he beat his cancer, but later, he suffered a reoccurrence. Pancreatic cancer remains one of the deadliest forms of cancer, with fewer than five percent of people living with the illness surviving for five or more years. Krasner beat these odds and survived after his initial diagnosis for nearly a decade. His longtime survival demonstrates how he was a great fighter in everything he did.

He had a profound impact on NATCA, the air traffic control profession, and the National Airspace System over his 32-year career. His actions and forethought helped shape the Union. Krasner will be greatly missed by NATCA’s members. NATCA members honored him by naming the Union’s headquarters building after him. But Krasner always deflected praise, preferring instead to share the accolades with everyone who worked to achieve results.

“I’m proud to have played a small part in our success,” Krasner said in 2014. “I say I played a small part, because it takes an organization made up of many passionate, dedicated professionals, to be so successful. It takes not just the voice of one, but the voice of many. Being a part of a successful union means success for you professionally and personally. NATCA would not be as accomplished as it is today without the individual talents, skills, and voices that comprise it.”

MORE INFORMATION: Doug Church, Deputy Director of Public Affairs; 301-346-8245, dchurch@natcadc.org.

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Certified in 1987, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association represents nearly 20,000 highly skilled air traffic controllers, engineers, and other aviation safety-related professionals.