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Read NATCA Scholarship Winner Danielle Strebel’s Essay

Every year, NATCA offers a scholarship program for spouses, children, stepchildren, and legally adopted children of active, retired, and deceased members in good standing for at least two consecutive years. This scholarship is for full-time attendance at accredited colleges and universities within the United States and its territories for an undergraduate degree program.

This year’s prompt asked candidates to examine why labor unions are experiencing a resurgence and what implications this has for the future.

Danielle Strebel, the child of Elias Strebel (Houston Center, ZHU) is among this year’s 20 scholarship winners. Below is the essay that Danielle submitted.

The first time I was introduced to the word union was the NATCA hoodie my dad had bought me. He then gave me another. And then another. As I became more familiar with the red lettered logo featured on the front, I realized I needed to know exactly what I was wearing and representing. So, I started my research. As I researched, I began to understand the importance of a labor union and how a company functions with one. And it seems I haven’t been the only one studying up on labor unions lately.

With the sudden increase in union support, it makes us curious about what exactly a union does for workers. The NATCA vision board states: “Enhance the lives and professions of our members while leading the effort to improve, modernize, and preserve the safety of the National Airspace System.” With a specific emphasis on the words improve, modernize, and preserve which translates to equal opportunity, advancing workers interests, and stability in and out of the office. Being in a union is like having a personal protection lawyer for your job, always fighting for you to not only keep your job but continue working in optimal conditions, and this is something more people are coming to realize is necessary especially after job security rapidly declined during COVID. This can only describe the increase and interest in unions coming from big corporations such as Amazon and Google. People want the security that comes with a labor union and since the cost of living will only continue to rise, it only makes sense why they would crave that security. The fact of the matter is, that the future of America’s workforce is labor unions.

A future that puts the power back in the hands of employees is a future that is sustained by all workers no matter what profession. A union doesn’t only work for members of the union, it improves conditions for all workers concerned regardless of membership. When NATCA was formed to replace its counterpart PATCO, it was made clear they were not affiliated with each other but shared the same aligned views of changing the workplace. NATCA took what failed in the past, replaced it, and paved a future that changed Air Traffic and its workforce. This is a perfect example of what other unions are doing around the country and why its support is skyrocketing. Workers will always rally for equitable and comfortable conditions and those are always changing. Unequivocally unions are for the people and with the people’s interest.

When I wear the hoodies, I now wear them with pride, understanding how much a labor union can do for its workers and company. Because without a union there would be no one to protect our workers, and this is what Americans are coming to understand. The support for unions will continue to make our future tangible, accessible, and fair for employees across the country.

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