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Thursday, April 3, 2008

I Am NATCA

I thought I would use the following excerpt from a recent e-mail to re-launch my writing career. (Yeah, right!) I went through a period recently where I didn't feel much like writing or doing much of anything. I took some time to reflect finish my school work and decided now is the right time to once again start sharing some of my thoughts. The following is plagiarized from my own work. It comes from an e-mail sent to a select few people in NATCA and I wanted to share it with you all. I edited it down, because I believe in the message and did not want it to get lost in the issue that the e-mail was sent in response to.


I am a union member, a union advocate and a union activist. I do what I do and what I have done for seventeen years without fanfare or award and without the expectation of any. I do so because I believe in what I do and I believe I can make a difference. For my service to this union, you (and the membership at large) owe me nothing, except the opportunity to continue to serve this union as I see fit, on MY terms – no one else's. That includes my choice to steer clear of union politics. That includes my choice to remain out of divisive situations, where the only reason people seek to involve me is because I have a name and I have credibility that they seek to use for whatever reason.


Discounting the time I spent in training (two years, four months at Syracuse; eight months at Tucson; four months at Tucson TRACON; six months at SoCal TRACON Departure Area; three months at Albany) – I have been either President of my Local or Representative of my area for sixteen out of seventeen years. I got tossed for six months when I opted to move to Tucson. I got tossed for three months at Tucson over the national seniority issue. I spent the first three months as an FPL at Albany swearing to Mitch Herrick I would never be the facrep. I tell you this only as a reminder as to why you owe it to me to remain as involved or not (in this discussion).

  • The man who signed me up to NATCA is an operations manager at ZDC. He also involved me in the candidacy of Tim Haines for NEA RVP (God rest his soul) and put me forward as his successor as facrep. My OJTI and NATCA VP is a supervisor at SYR.

  • The man I supported for NWP RVP is in some management position at PCT or the command center – who the fuck knows.


  • The man I ran against in the NWP is a manager of some sort.


  • The man who beat him is dead (God rest his soul as well).


The fact is, I do not apologize for supporting any of them. I do not apologize for running for RVP, even if I wasn't qualified or at a "big house". I never apologized for supporting Bob in 2003 or John in 2003 and 2006. I still never have. That doesn't change the fact that I refuse to take up residence in a corner of NATCA until someone who I support gets elected to office. I also refuse to allow anyone – ANYONE – to question my motivation for supporting one candidate over another or for doing the work of my union.


The two men who gave their all – gave their lives for NATCA – are two men who I admire greatly. Tim Haines and Kevin McGrath were both very intelligent and union to their very core. No one could EVER question their motivation as representatives of this union. They truly gave their lives for NATCA – for US. Each of them battled their demons (some of the same demons, actually) and often times were ostracized for it. Tim was run out of office by the very people who put them there – the OM at ZDC and Joe Fruscella, et. al. in the NY metro area. Kevin resigned, never able to manage the battle between his union obligations, his family and his demons. Regardless, I still hold them in the highest esteem for who they were and what they stood for. You owe it to their memory and to what they gave to NATCA to fix this divisiveness and set all of the other bullshit aside.


Air traffic controllers and NATCA members – at least the good air traffic controllers and the activists in NATCA – all have a lot in common. The one thing we probably all have in common is we're all type-A's, we don't take shit off from anyone and we all think we have all of the answers. We have a bitch of a time "just getting over it". There are not enough hours in the day to juggle family, union and work – not to mention our personal grudges and baggage we have accumulated. It's time to get a porter for the baggage and to build a bridge and get over it (no offense intended to the bridge-builders of our union intended).


I know it's easier said than done and it's easy for me to say that, sitting here on the sidelines in my lawn-chair and Speedo sipping Mai-Tai's on the beach (would you believe in my EZ chair, looking out at the snow, sipping diet Coke?). I am not an RVP or LR specialist, faced with an angry mob each and every day. What I am is NATCA – and for that, and for my service, you owe it to ME to find a way to move forward from today and to join the battle for tomorrow.


In Solidarity,


Tony Yushinsky
President
NATCA ALB Local
tony@natca.org

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