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June 23, 2017 // Ed Mears Reflects on 30 Years of NATCA

Below are Ed Mears’s reflections on what 30 years of NATCA means to him.

Wow! Thirty years flies by quicker than I would have thought. Let me just share a couple of highlights of the early years, locally, to provide perspective compared to where we are now.

Everyone I worked with in 1987 voted in the certification election, one way or the other. I’m not sure how we learned about ratification, as there was no Internet, no cell phones, and no national or regional offices or officers,  but we heard.

Around July 10 that year, I received a packet including membership forms, organizational information, summaries of union rights, etc. The Professional Aviation Safety Specialists allowed me to use their bulletin board and I posted a note that anyone wanting to help organize an Austin ATCT (AUS) Local should meet at Scholz’s Beer Garten, which happens to have a long history of union support. That week, four of us met in the outside beer garden, including Don Procise, Paul Franklin, John Julian (our first EVP, my good friend, and my primary trainer, who passed away a few months ago). We went over the materials. It was decided that because I had all the printed material I would start out as Facility President.

The next day, Randy Mumm and Jeff Turner joined, bringing the membership total to six. To give you an idea of how slim pickings were at the start, at the national convention the following April in Atlanta, the entire Southwest Region contingent was able to meet in one hotel room, and no one had to stand. The second year, we grew to 10 members. Reaching double digits was exciting. The third year, there were 20 of us. When I retired in 2006, AUS had 95 percent NATCA membership.

Since retiring from the FAA, I have been at two Federal Contract Towers (FCTs), Georgetown (GTU) and San Marcos (HYI). Both of these towers have had 100 percent NATCA membership from day one. A good organization is a great recruiting tool!

NATCA has developed into an awesome organization with legislative, government affairs, labor relations, communications, and other departments. I think it is useful to reflect on how that came about slowly over the years. Many dedicated Union members helped make NATCA what it is today, and it still is reaching higher. Reflecting on where we came from helps us gain perspective and lets us focus on where we want to go.  

Happy 30th Birthday NATCA. It’s been quite a ride, and we are still heading skyward!

Ed Mears
NATCA AUS (retired)
NATCA HYI
ARVP FCT’s, NATCA SW Region