Thursday, June 19, 2008
FAA History Lesson -- June 19 (08)
From the FAA Historical Chronology, 1926-1996...
”Jun 19, 1987: The Federal Labor Relations Authority certified the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) as the exclusive representative of all GS-2152 series terminal and center controllers whose primary duty was separation of aircraft. The controllers had voted for representation by a margin of 7,494 to 3,275, using mail ballots sent to them on May 6. The Authority had announced the outcome on Jun 11. (See Jul 2, 1982, and May 1, 1989.) “
As all my readers know by now, President Ronald Reagan fired over 11,000 members of PATCO when they went on strike -- August 3, 1981. I walked into Atlanta Center early in 1982 and literally said, “I don’t need a union and don’t want one.” I was wrong. So wrong.
On June 11, 1987 -- the date the ballots were counted -- I was hanging around the MEBA building in Washington, DC, awaiting the outcome. MEBA had shouldered the organizing costs for NATCA. I used the time to fill out my union application. The secretary told me she couldn’t accept any applications until the ballot count was completed. I was standing at her desk -- application in hand -- when the call came in.
I was never elected to anything in NATCA (that I remember anyway) but I was always involved. I was telling a friend just yesterday, if you want to learn how a democracy works, attend a local union meeting. It’s messy. It’s frustrating. Sometimes it’s just plain boring. But you soon learn that your actions count. It’s real easy to sit back and hide in our society -- letting someone else take charge and make decisions. It’s a lot more difficult to blame others when there are only five other people in the room and a decision needs to be made.
Your vote counts. Your voice is heard. You can stand up and lead or you can follow. You can object. You can quit and go home. But whatever you do, you can’t blame it on some faceless “politician.” You were in the room. You had a chance to stand up and be heard. It’s your judgment that is tested. You will live with the consequences of your own actions (or lack thereof.) I wish more people had that experience. I believe our country would be better for it.
Sorry. I didn’t mean to get off on a tangent and I didn’t mean to preach. Helping start NATCA was one of the best decisions I ever made. I didn’t start out my career with that intention and I didn’t know how it would turn out. But I’m glad I did. Happy Birthday NATCA.
June 19, 2008