Member Focus: Jenny Benjamin
Thursday, February 07, 2013
Jenny Benjamin, with husband Joseph, at a training house burn, the Rod Kush Mansion in Gretna, Neb.
Air traffic control career: Started in 2009 at Lincoln Tower (LNK) in Nebraska, where she currently works as an air traffic controller.
Born and raised, other places of living: Born and raised in Loveland, Colo. Husband Joseph Benjamin is active duty in the military. Together, they have traveled and lived in a lot of locations.
Q: How did you become a NATCA member?
A: As soon as I went to the FAA Academy, I went to those Reloaded events. I realized they were there fighting for my rights, even before I worked as an air traffic controller. I wanted to continue the legacy and hard work that NATCA does, and help not only my career, but also everyone else's career.
Q: How did you get involved and what are you involved in with NATCA?
A: I'm currently the FacRep. Before that I was secretary treasurer and the vice president for a while. I began to get involved legislatively and started those efforts by going to NATCA in Washington. I then became Nebraska's State Legislative Coordinator. Now I've started getting involved on the National Legislative Committee.
Q: What made you decide to take on leadership roles within NATCA?
A: It all goes back to the Academy. I think it's important to be involved. It's essentially your job security. If you want to make a change and have an impact, you need to start stepping up and taking charge. I wanted to make sure I provided support for my future, so I got myself involved. Plus getting involved is fun!
Q: Out of all your involvement within NATCA, what speaks to you the most?
A: Legislative involvement is crucial. But also, being a FacRep has made me realize how crucial having solidarity events, raising money for the PAC, and building a strong foundation are for the facility you are representing.
Q: What's the most rewarding part of being facility representative? What's the most challenging?
A: I think the most rewarding part is just being there for members. Actually, even non-members, since our facility is not 100 percent [NATCA membership facility]. When people come to me asking for advice, or wanting to confide in me with their questions and concerns, it really feels like you're doing something meaningful. The most challenging is that you never get a break. You're always working on this, that or the other. But again, it's worth it!
Q: Being a facility representative, how do you get your members involved?
A: We try to do solidarity events every once in a while. We're in the process of making NATCA T-shirts for the local. It all gives you a sense of pride. It's not just Lincoln Tower, it's the unity of NATCA.
Q: Do you have any hobbies or any other activities you enjoy outside of NATCA?
A: Way too many. One of the best things I do outside of NATCA is volunteer as a firefighter and EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) for the Springfield Volunteer Fire Department. I do all of the EMS (Emergency Medical Services) runs, fire calls and additional training throughout the week.
Q: Why did you become a volunteer firefighter?
A: Honestly, I wanted to be a doctor before I became an air traffic controller. So in this way I can give back to the community, have fun, and burn down houses for training!
Q: Has there been a favorite moment for you while at NATCA?
A: I think a big thing I remember is just getting the Red Book. I mean, being able to show up to work in jeans and a T-shirt again felt so liberating. That contract, that's why I'm in NATCA. That Red Book makes your career. NATCA makes our job a lot less stressful — not worrying about pay cuts, management issues or ridiculous changes such as dress codes.
Q: Do you have any advice/tips/messages for members who would like to get involved?
A: Just do it. We need as many activists as possible. Whether you're doing grassroots efforts and making a few phone calls to your Congressman or getting involved with your local facility by helping out as secretary. These little changes can make a big difference, so just do it.