This Week in NATCA/Labor History
Monday, February 28, 2011


March 3, 1986 — NATCA on Capitol Hill: For the first time since 1981, an organization representing working controllers testifies before Congress. The field hearing of the House Subcommittee on Aviation, chaired by Norman Mineta, D-Calif., is held in New Brunswick, N.J. New York TRACON controllers Steve Bell, Joel Hicks and Michael Sheedy speak on behalf of NATCA about airspace congestion, jurisdiction and procedures.

February 28, 1995 — New airport: Denver International Airport opens during a snowstorm. Controllers clear three aircraft to make the world’s first triple simultaneous landing. During DIA’s first 11 months of operation, delays are five times less than those at Stapleton. (The last major airport to open in the United States had been Dallas-Fort Worth in 1974.)

February 27, 1997 — NATCA affiliation: Union President Barry Krasner meets with MEBA President Alex Shandrowsky, notifying him of NATCA’s intent to terminate affiliation.

February 28, 2000 — NATCA headquarters: The union moves into its newly purchased office building at 1325 Massachusetts Ave., NW in Washington, D.C. AFGE owned the structure during the mid-1980s, and John Thornton briefly worked in the offices while organizing AATCC.

February 28, 2001 — Earthquake: A 6.1-magnitude temblor in the Seattle area severely damages the control tower at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Ignoring a supervisor’s order to evacuate, controller Brian Schimpf clears 12 remaining arrivals to land. Engineers later discover that all eight structural supports had sheared and the tower cab was resting atop the building on its own weight. The airport reopens in an hour to departure traffic; controllers talk to pilots using handheld radios while standing in front of a hangar.
    About two hours later, FAA engineer Curt Howe and several colleagues deliver a temporary mobile tower to the airport. The three-person facility had been undergoing retrofitting at Seattle Center in nearby Auburn for the 2002 Winter Olympics. By 8:30 that evening, controllers begin handling arrivals and departures from the temporary post.


The Granite Cutters National Union begins what is to be a successful nationwide strike for the eight-hour day. Also won: union recognition, wage increases, a grievance procedure, and a minimum wage scale.

1915: The minimum age allowed by law for workers in mills, factories, and mines in South Carolina is raised from 12 to 14.

1936: After five years of labor by 21,000 workers, 112 of whom were killed on the job, the Hoover Dam (Boulder Dam) is completed and turned over to the government. Citizens were so mad at Pres. Herbert Hoover, for whom the dam had been named, that it was later changed to Boulder Dam, being located near Boulder City, Nev.

1939: The Supreme Court rules that sit-down strikes, a major organizing tool for industrial unions, are illegal.

1956: The federal minimum wage increases to $1.00 per hour.