Rinaldi Elected to AFL-CIO Executive Council
Friday, September 13, 2013

For the last two decades, NATCA has sought a seat on the AFL-CIO Executive Council, a group of chief officers from affiliated unions and the top three AFL-CIO officers—the president, secretary-treasurer and the executive vice president—that guides the daily work of the federation. On Tuesday, Sept. 10, with 10 NATCA delegates, alternates and guests in attendance, that goal was made reality. NATCA President Paul Rinaldi was elected, by acclamation of the convention body at the AFL-CIO quadrennial convention in Los Angeles, as one of AFL-CIO’s vice presidents to serve on the federation’s Executive Council. His position on the Executive Council will ensure NATCA’s voice is heard on the highest level of the AFL-CIO.

Before the election, the convention body voted unanimously on Monday, Sept. 9, to amend Article V, Section 1 of the AFL-CIO constitution to increase the size of the Executive Council to 55 Vice Presidents, up from the original 51. This increase paved the way for the Rinaldi’s election.

The candidates for the Executive Council were nominated as a slate and their election was unanimous. 

The top AFL-CIO officers were also re-elected unanimously by the convention body. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler start their second terms as of Wednesday, Sept. 11, the third and final day of the convention.  Tefere Gebre succeeded Arlene Holt Baker upon her retirement as executive vice president. 

Former NATCA President John Carr, one of the union’s first officers to pursue a place for NATCA on the council, applauded the delegates’ action in electing Rinaldi. “Paul Rinaldi's appointment to the AFL-CIO Executive Council is a magnificent achievement and reflects 26 years of hard work to bring NATCA to the forefront of organized labor,” Carr said. “Paul now sits at the decision-makers table with a small number of unions—many of them boasting millions of members.”  

The president of the Transportation Trades Department (TTD), AFL-CIO, Edward Wytkind considered Rinaldi’s election a move in the right direction for transportation, labor and the federation as a whole. “Paul is an excellent addition to the AFL-CIO Executive Council, especially as the labor movement prepares to step off into unprecedented territory to strengthen its ranks and prepare for the future,” he said.  “As an active leader within TTD, Paul is the sort of forward thinker we need to lend a voice to those shaping the policies that will impact this movement for decades to come.”

After his election, Rinaldi recognized NATCA’s long journey to the highest echelon of the AFL-CIO. “Many people helped make this possible,” he said. “Special thanks are due to NATCA’s tireless Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert, Director of Government Affairs Jose Ceballos and Deputy General Counsel Eugene Freedman. Their hard work over the last several years guarantees that our membership will have a clear voice in the labor movement for years to come. This is a historic victory for our union.”

On Wednesday morning, Sept. 11, Rinaldi jumped right in and attended his first Executive Council meeting before attending the concluding day of the convention.

NATCA National Office staff attendees joined others in celebrating the election of the AFL-CIO Executive Council.

NATCA and AFL-CIO Timeline
  • 26 June 1986:  The AFL-CIO holds an Article 20 briefing to decide whether AFGE or MEBA should organize NATCA.  MEBA ultimately prevails.
  • 2 May 1987:  NATCA is recognized as the sole bargaining representative for air traffic controllers by the FLRA.  NATCA affiliates with MEBA, which is part of the AFL-CIO.
  • 18 Sept 1997:  NATCA requests direct affiliation with the AFL-CIO.
  • 19 Feb 1998:  NATCA President Mike McNally, Executive Vice President Randy Schwitz, and attorney Bill Osborne appear before the AFL-CIO Executive Council to request direct affiliation.
  • 20 March 1998:  In a unanimous vote, the AFL-CIO Executive Council accepts NATCA as a direct affiliate to the Union, the first time the international labor organization takes such action in four decades.
  • Feb. 2007: NATCA President Pat Forrey is appointed to the AFL-CIO Political Committee.
  • Nov. 2009: NATCA EVP Trish Gilbert succeeds Pat Forrey, at the conclusion of his term, on the AFL-CIO Political Committee.
  • 10 Sept 2013:  The AFL-CIO governing body at the quadrennial national convention in Los Angeles votes unanimously to elect NATCA President Paul Rinaldi as a vice president to serve on the Executive Council.