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Member Focus: Bill Otto // December 22, 2011

Bill Otto, retired

Retired NATCA air traffic controller Bill Otto is hardly what’s considered a “retired man.”

“You’ll be surprised as you retire, you find yourself busier than you were when you were working,” said Otto.

Otto stopped working at the St. Louis TRACON in Jan. 2007 where he took part in every position possible, from Team Representative to Facility Representative, for 20 years of his NATCA career. In addition, he served as Regional Vice President of the Central Region from 1997-2000 and on the Traffic Management Unit Team (TUT) from 2003 to 2006. Afterwards, Otto thought he’d enjoy the sweet relaxation of retirement like everyone hopes for at some point in their lives.

“My plan was to retire and build custom cabinets,” said Otto. “The economy killed that idea.”

In 2008, a unique opportunity presented itself to Otto. A new program, “Boots on the Ground,” started under then-Legislative Chair Trish Gilbert, where retired NATCA members worked as activists in the AFL-CIO’s Labor to Labor program to successfully elect Barack Obama as President of the United States. Otto was assigned to his hometown for the 2008 campaign. In 2010, Otto returned to the “Boots” program but this time he was asked to represent the entire eastern Missouri political program for the AFL-CIO Labor Council.

“Working in my hometown has given me the opportunity to become a part of the labor community that NATCA was never involved with,” Otto said. “This has really given me insight into issues I never saw as a FacRep.”

In 2009, he was asked to volunteer as a liaison between a legal team and plaintiffs for NATCA’s lawsuit against the FAA. The FLSA lawsuit was filed to force the agency to compensate controllers at time-and-a-half for credit hours, among other pay issues. In support of this case, Otto traveled across the country to help interview plaintiffs.

“This was the first time I missed being at a facility working with NATCA folks,” Otto said, “but it also reminded me how inept some managers out there truly are.”

Now, Otto participates as the committee chairman of RNAV (Retired NATCA Active Volunteers), along with five other NATCA retirees. RNAV offers retired NATCA members opportunities with legislative efforts, job offers, and social and travel experiences for those wishing to stay involved with NATCA. RNAV recently unveiled a lifetime membership program to make it easier for retirees to be part of NATCA forever.

“I am flattered and humbled that even after five years of being retired, I am able to participate and support NATCA’s continued success,” said Otto.

Otto and his wife, Kathy, have a wonderful family of six children: Jill, Stephanie, Rebecca, Bryan, Loren, and Casey, as well as five grandchildren: Alexis, Rayann, Holden, Brennan, and Lorelai. In addition to his efforts with NATCA, Otto has big plans to run for Missouri state representative in the 2012 election.

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