Member Focus: Jim Ullmann // July 20, 2012
Jim Ullmann, NATCA Northwest Mountain Regional Vice President
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Service: 23 years; two at Denver Center (ZDV) and 21 (cumulatively) at Seattle Center (ZSE).
Hometown: Sacramento, Calif.
Family: Married 26 years. Two sons, a 24-year-old serving in the U.S. Air Force, and a 20-year-old heading into his junior year at the University of Washington on a full scholarship from the U.S. Air Force ROTC. Also, Jim became a proud first-time grandfather in February.
How and why did you become an air traffic controller?
I’ve enjoyed an interest in aviation since being raised as an Air Force brat. A lot of our entertainment growing up was sitting in the family car on the flight line, watching fighter jets flying touch and gos. Being hired by the FAA was pure chance and luck, as there was a want ad in the local newspaper. I am proud to say I was hired “off the street.”
Do you have a family history of unionism?
My family has little, if any, history with unionism, as most of our family was raised on farms or in small farming communities.
What do you enjoy about being a NATCA Regional Vice President?
One aspect I enjoy is the ability to make change, to take an issue presented by either a NATCA member or facility representative, and assist in ensuring our bargaining unit employees (BUEs) are treated fairly and equitably. This is also one of the most frustrating parts of being an RVP, as there are issues we deal with that should be easy to fix, yet become mired down in bureaucracy when dealing with the FAA.
What spurred you to get involved in NATCA’s leadership?
There was no one single event that spurred me to become more involved in NATCA, just the feeling of being on the “right side,” and the feeling that being on the side of the workers in our profession was the absolute right thing to do. It is who I am and what I do. I am very honored to be referred to as a member of NATCA leadership. I believe it is a position that is earned through years of hard work, dedication, commitment, and the respect of our membership.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I wish I could give you a long list of hobbies outside of work, but I have to honestly say that I do not have enough free time to fully enjoy a hobby. While I do find occasion to fish several times a year, or take a motorcycle ride, or get in a round of golf, I currently do all so seldom that I call them ‘future hobbies.’
Of all your time at NATCA, what is your favorite memory?
It is very hard to narrow down a single favorite memory of being a NATCA member; certainly I have seen the absolute cyclical nature of our Union’s relationship with the FAA. I would say being a NATCA member during Pay Reclass in 1998 was memorable, and it was groundbreaking for this Union. Another would be coming out of the imposed work rules (IWRs) as a much stronger union, opposed to being divided by the union busters, which many outsiders counted on.
What is it like to be The Most Interesting Controller in the World?
While planning the 2012 Denver Convention, I was approached with several ideas that were outside of what had been seen or produced at past conventions, including the spoof (of the popular Dos Equis beer commercial) “The Most Interesting Controller in the World.” I’ve always said that you can’t laugh at someone else if you can’t laugh at yourself. We made a conscious decision to attempt to lighten things up a bit. The amount of comments, not just at the Denver Convention, but everywhere I’ve traveled since, has been unbelievable. I guess there are worse things to be known for.