Former Nevada Senator Harry Reid Remembered Fondly for Supporting NATCA
Longtime Nevada Senator and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who passed away last week at 82, had a strong and very positive relationship with NATCA over the years thanks to grassroots efforts that focused on Reid’s home state and its two largest Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) facilities – Las Vegas ATCT (LAS) and Las Vegas TRACON (L30).
L30 FacRep Anthony Borgert said he and his fellow Nevada and Western Pacific Region activists spent a lot of time with Sen. Reid. “He certainly understood the value of NATCA and the role air traffic controllers play in keeping our nation moving safely and efficiently,” Borgert said.
LAS was recently renamed Harry Reid International Airport, a decision which NATCA supported as a fitting tribute for a leader who for 30 years was a strong supporter of aviation both in Nevada and across the nation. Sen. Reid also strongly supported NATCA and demonstrated his passionate belief in collective bargaining rights for union employees.
To NATCA, his greatest moment demonstrating this commitment was when he led the effort to pass H.R. 658, the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, the final step before President Obama signed that FAA Reauthorization bill into law. The legislation ended a five-year-long effort to enact the FAA bill and more than seven years of NATCA trying to amend Title 49 to establish a fair collective bargaining process for all FAA employees. This legislation laid the foundation for an era of collaboration between NATCA and the FAA that continues to this day.
Borgert said Sen. Reid consistently made time to meet with NATCA members from Nevada, both in Washington, D.C., during NATCA in Washington and also back in the state during facility visits. Borgert relayed one of his favorite Sen. Reid stories which took place during a particularly memorable facility visit – the grand opening of the new LAS and L30 in 2015.
“As everyone was jostling for position, he called out to me, ‘Tony, come here. We had this built for you and the controllers. I don’t know who any of these other people are or what they do but I can tell it’s not air traffic control,’” Borgert said. “He pulled no punches and spoke his mind. He knew we (NATCA) were his people and he knew we had his back and he most definitely had ours.”
Top, from left to right: Former member Ron McKeska (Las Vegas TRACON, L30), Sen. Harry Reid, and L30 FacRep Anthony Borgert.
Bottom, from left to right: Las Vegas TRACON (L30) FacRep Anthony Borgert, L30 member Barrett Duchene, National Legislative Committee (NLC) Vice Chair and former NLC Western Pacific Region Rep Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik (Santa Barbara, SBA), Sen. Harry Reid, and Las Vegas ATCT (LAS) member and former FacRep Jamaal Haltom.
POCs: John Bressler, Anthony Borgert, Richard Kennington, Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik