We Guide You Home

The NATCA Difference


NATCA is a unique union representing people from all walks of life, from Republicans to Democrats, to college graduates, and military veterans, because safety is a universal issue, no matter what political party you belong to or where you come from.

Safety above all is the litmus test in which all decisions the Union makes are based on, as the people who join NATCA have the common goal of improving their professions and enhancing the safest and most efficient airspace system in the world.

The NATCA family is comprised of over 20,000 air traffic controllers, engineers, and other aviation safety-related professionals, with membership from every state, territory, and possession of the United States.

We are one of the strongest and most influential labor unions in the federal sector, but we are not solely focused on labor. NATCA is also an important and critical voice in the aviation industry. NATCA family members are highly skilled and fully committed to ensuring the safety of every flight. NATCA is proud to represent not only the interests of its membership, but the safety interests of the flying public as well.

NATCA represents 17 bargaining units, which include Air Traffic Controllers, Engineers, Architects, Aircraft Certification Engineers, Air Traffic Control Staff Support Specialists, Drug Abatement Inspectors, and more. Each bargaining unit consists of members split up over 10 different regions, nine of which correspond to the geographic boundaries set by the FAA and deal primarily with air traffic-related personnel.

NATCA’s diversity, both with our bargaining units as well as our members, is what makes the Union an industry powerhouse. It’s our differences that make us stronger.

More importantly NATCA is a family and we’d like you to hear first-hand from some of our members what the NATCA Collective is.


NATCA works collaboratively with the Agency in a myriad of issues including all Safety and Training initiatives, and selects volunteers from the NATCA bargain unit to work on the many issues associated with these subjects. There are abundant opportunities to become involved in NATCA and in the many ongoing projects and programs that are having an impact on our workforce. It could be participating as a Subject Matter Expert during human in the loop testing for new technologies, or as an appointed NATCA representative overseeing a large program. There are anywhere between 120-150 ongoing or scheduled programs, projects, and initiatives that require resources to work on everything from initial development, to training, to implementation. Whether it be at the local, regional or national level, NATCA is a full collaborative partner with the FAA and works with the Agency to fill the many requests for resources that are made to fulfill the vital role these opportunities bring.

Safety & Technology
— All positions associated with all applicable Voluntary Safety Reporting Programs (VSRP), including ATSAP.

— Implementation of new technology’s that include Enroute Data Comm, Time Based Flow Management (TBDM), Terminal Flight Data Management (TFDM), all airspace projects including Metroplex and PBN procedures, and many more.

— All positions associated with our ongoing collaborative efforts with the FAA to improve all aspects of controller and employee training. 

Home 1 On Sept. 23-24, 1986, 72 delegates attend NATCA’s founding convention at the Chicago-O’Hare Ramada Hotel, including provisional representatives from each of NATCA’s nine regions. John Thornton, the founding father of NATCA, announces that NATCA has collected more than 4,200 signatures calling for an election on whether to form a union. However, the group decided to wait in order to get more signatures before filing them with the FLRA to help ensure a “big win.” 1986: NATCA’s Birth Takes Shape at Founding Convention, Chicago 2 1987: Controllers Vote ‘Yes’ On June 11, 1987, with 84 percent of controllers voting, seven out of every 10 of them chose NATCA. It was a show of support – with President Reagan still in office – viewed as stunning to most observers. The news was announced before a packed room of journalists. 3 1989: The First Contract Beginning in November 1988, NATCA and the FAA sat down to discuss a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). It was the first time a union representing air traffic controllers and the FAA had conducted talks since the strike in 1981. The final agreement was a CBA for 1989 to 1993, and contained provisions from the 1978 PATCO contract such as mandatory breaks after two hours on position, immunity for controllers who reported operational errors, and release time for union representatives to work on NTSB investigations. They also gained new ground with a new parental leave program, the right to conduct mid-term bargaining, and workplace articles related to prime time leave. NATCA also successfully bargained regional representatives 50 percent official time off to conduct union representational duties. NATCALogo BargainingUnit 4 1990: First DoD Facility Represented On Sept. 6, 1990, NATCA was certified as the exclusive bargaining representative of the civilian controllers at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station in North Carolina. The 30 new BUEs became the first non-FAA controllers to be represented by NATCA. It was the beginning of a long record of successful organizing efforts. NATCA now represents five DoD facilities and 111 federal contract towers in addition to 16 FAA bargaining units. 5 A truly momentous accomplishment for NATCA – a six-year-long effort to design, ratify, and implement a 10-tier pay reclassification system that began in 1992 and expanded the existing five-tier system. It changed pay from the GS scale to one based on traffic volume and complexity.
NATCALogo BargainingUnit 1992: NATCA Takes Monumental Step With Pay Reclassification
5 NATCA’s first national legislative week began on Sept. 20, 1993. At the time, more than 250 members participated in the inaugural “Lobby Week.” The Union launched the program to raise legislative awareness and provide an opportunity for members to meet their congressional representatives. A year earlier, at the San Antonio Convention, delegates voiced the need for grassroots legislative involvement.
1993: NATCA’s First Lobby Week
6 1994: NCF Leads Spirit of Generosity Former Southwest RVP Darrell Meachum and his wife Cathy, an honorary lifetime member, began the NATCA Charitable Foundation (NCF) as a way of pooling the efforts of many NATCA locals that run charity fundraisers and bring recognition to the profession. Now in its 26th year, NCF remains a 100% volunteer organization made up of members, friends, and family. Last year, NCF donated $250,000 to more than 140 charities and continues to bring NATCA regions and locals together in the spirit of generosity. NCFLogo 7 1996: Chapter 71 – Fight for Survival In November 1995, Congress passed an appropriations bill that required the FAA to implement a new personnel system, and exempted the FAA from Title 5 United States Code to allow the Agency to legally negotiate pay. However, removing Title 5 coverage also eliminated Chapter 71, which grants federal workers the right to union representation and collective bargaining. Without Chapter 71, NATCA and other unions representing FAA employees would lose their right to collectively bargain. In the end, after a lengthy fight, in March 1996, NATCA, with the assistance of other FAA unions, succeeded in restoring Chapter 71 language on the continuing resolution that also provided aid for Bosnia and Midwest flood relief. Slide 1997: Engineers Join NATCA FAA engineers (E&A) officially joined the NATCA Family with FLRA certification. With 1,400 BUEs, E&A is the largest component of Region X. It was one of the Union’s greatest organizing success stories and the start of a large-scale expansion of NATCA’s growth and strengthening into an even more powerful union. Slide 1997: NATCA Expands With FCT The FAA began contracting out towers in the early 1990s. NATCA fought it in court for many years. But the Union knew these controllers still needed a voice and the right to collectively bargain with their private employers. The NLRB certified NATCA as the exclusive bargaining representative for its first Federal Contract Tower, Central Wisconsin Tower (CWA), Mosinee, Wis., in early 1997. NATCA currently represents 111 of the 256 FCTs. NATCA’s 111th and newest FCT is Macon, Ga. (MCN). s Slide 1998: AFL-CIO Accepts NATCA On March 20, 1998, the AFL-CIO Executive Council, impressed by what NATCA had achieved in its first decade, voted unanimously to accept NATCA as a direct affiliate after the Union broke away from the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association. NATCA President Paul Rinaldi has served as a Vice President on the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council since 2013. Slide 1998: NATCA Negotiates Pay for the First Time NATCA and the FAA sign an unprecedented five-year collective bargaining agreement - the Green Book -after negotiating for nearly a year. Members ratified it by a 92 percent margin. It was the first time a controllers union negotiated pay with its employer. (Pictured: NATCA President Mike McNally, and FAA Administrator Jane Garvey.) Slide 2000: NATCA Finds a Stable Home On Feb. 28, 2000, NATCA moved into its newly purchased office building at 1325 Massachusetts Ave., NW, in Washington, D.C.. It’s named The Krasner Building in honor of Barry Krasner who early on envisioned the Union owning a building to enable it to grow and succeed. Delegates at the 1994 Biennial Convention in Tampa took the step needed to start the process by agreeing to transfer MEBA dues to a building fund. Slide 2000: Region X is Created NATCA was certified as the exclusive bargaining representative for several BUs in 2000, including TMC and AOS, the first two that year to join NATCA. It was a year that saw the largest expansion of the NATCA Family of BUs and resulted in the formation of a 10th region - Region X - to put them all together. In 2017, NATCA and the FAA agreed to extend both the Multi-Unit CBA - the Light Blue Book - and the Consolidated CBA - the Purple Book - to July 1, 2021. The agreements cover more than 5,000 BUEs, one quarter of NATCA’s represented total. Slide 2001: Answering the Nation's Call to Clear the Skies on 9/11 When terrorists attacked the United States with hijacked aircraft on 9/11 and the order went out to land every aircraft at the nearest airport, controllers guided 700 aircraft to land in the first four minutes, 2,800 in the first hour, and over 4,500 within the first three hours. Over a million passengers landed without incident. “The landing of those aircraft stands as the single greatest feat in all of ATC history,” NATCA President Emeritus John Carr said. In the days and weeks that followed 9/11, a team of NATCA representatives, led by Executive Vice President Ruth Stilwell, staffed the Emergency Operations Center at the FAA, rotating through 24-hour shifts much of the time. Slide 2003: NATCA Works to Keep 69 of its Represented Towers In December, 2003, the president signed a four-year FAA Reauthorization called the Vision 100 Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act. The bill was passed during a contentious period with the Bush administration over air traffic control privatization. House Republicans were set on contracting out 69 FAA towers. In order to prevent such a provision from being in the final bill, NATCA worked with members of Congress to hold up the bill until Republicans agreed to guarantee a moratorium on privatization. Thus when the final bill was signed, it was accompanied by a one year moratorium against privatization, a major victory that would ensure the 69 towers the FAA had targeted for privatization, would remain FAA facilities. NATCALogo BargainingUnit Slide 2003: Extension of the Green Book CBA for Two Years NATCA and the FAA agreed to extend the Green Book CBA for two years, avoiding the distraction of a labor clash during a rough period for the air transportation system. It was a positive development for NATCA in the first term of a Republican administration that had already tried to contract out a significant number of FAA facilities, as detailed above. There had also been some talk, including in Congress, of wanting to seek givebacks from the Union. NATCALogo BargainingUnit Slide 2005: FAA Tries, Fails to Fire 'NY11'; NATCA Never Backed Down In July 2005, the FAA fired 11 controllers at New York TRACON for neglecting to check one box on its 8500-8 medical form. It was a union-busting attempt that failed five months later when the "NY11" were offered their jobs back with full back pay. NATCA President John Carr escorted the controllers back to their facility, a huge victory for the Union. Slide 2008: Undivided, Undefeated NATCA was two years into fighting against the FAA's White Book - imposed work and pay rules - when the convention body met in Miami. That's when Paul Rinaldi, then Executive Vice President, began the rallying cry: "Our Collective Spirit is Their Enemy!" We were confident we would outlast that dark time by staying united, undivided, and undefeated. And we did. Slide 2009: The Red Book Ends Lost Years On Sept. 25, 2009, NATCA President Patrick Forrey and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt signed the 2009 Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Red Book, signifying an end to the worst period of labor relations between NATCA and the FAA in our Union’s history. The return to the bargaining table was set in motion by the action of President Obama in the first 100 days of his first term. Slide 2009: Taking cfs to new heights Under new Safety Committee Chair Steve Hansen and as NATCA collaborated with the FAA to move from a punitive culture to a safety culture, NATCA greatly expanded the scope and size of its annual Communicating For Safety (CFS) event starting in 2009, growing it into the aviation industry’s leading conference focusing on safety, technology, and building relationships. It’s the only conference of its kind to focus specifically on the air traffic needs of all members of the aviation community who are affected by the National Airspace System (NAS). Slide 2010: ATSAP Fully Implemented On March 27, 2008, NATCA and the FAA signed an agreement to create the Air Traffic Safety Action Program (ATSAP), designed to foster a voluntary, cooperative, non-punitive environment for the open reporting of safety of flight concerns by FAA controllers. By September 2010, ATSAP has been fully implemented and transformed the safety culture of the aviation system. ATSAP-X followed a few years later, along with ASAP for federal contract towers and a VSRP for Aircraft Certification. Slide 2011: At Last, Era of Imposed Work and Pay Rules Comes to an End In 2005, a year before the FAA imposed the White Book, the Agency first imposed work rules on many of NATCA’s Region X bargaining units. But by 2010, with the parties engaged in the start of a collaborative relationship, NATCA began negotiations for a fairly negotiated Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) on behalf of all of these units. The ensuing work at the negotiating table resulted in a new CBA, signed on April 7, 2011. It was called the Light Blue book or the Multi-Unit CBA and covers all of NATCA’s non-ATO bargaining units. At last, the era of imposed work and pay rules was over and each of the FAA bargaining units represented by NATCA were covered by a fairly negotiated CBA. NATCALogo BargainingUnit Slide 2011: Collaboration Progress Begins to Be Measured “If our ultimate goal is realized, if this collaborative process we are building with the FAA, brick by brick, becomes fully institutionalized as the permanent culture at the Agency, we may well look back on Wednesday, Sept. 21 (2011) as a key benchmark in how we measured our progress and affirmed our commitment.” It was on that day that NATCA President Paul Rinaldi joined then-FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt onstage for a discussion on “Best Practices in Labor Management Relations” at the Department of Transportation’s first semi-annual Aviation Workforce Management Conference Slide 2011: Professional Standards After nearly two years building a professional standards program, the first submission was made in 2011, kicking off one of the Union's most successful recent initiatives. It has drawn praise from the NTSB, which has lauded NATCA's dedication to excellence. The additions of Turn Off Tune In, Fully Charged, RESPECT, Partnership for Safety, and ATSAP form the Foundations of Professionalism, solidifying the core pillars of safety and professionalism in NATCA. Slide 2012: Safety & Tech Successes With safety the guiding principle, NATCA has made great strides in the last decade to achieve pre-decisional involvement with the FAA on a vast array of safety and technology programs and procedures. One example of turning failure into success is ERAM (En Route Automation Modernization). Before NATCA became involved, ERAM was over-budget and plagued with problems. But the Obama Administration wisely recognized that real stakeholder involvement was an element essential to ensuring effective air traffic control modernization. Collaborative Safety Slide 2012: Long Fight Restores Title 49; Fair Collective Bargaining Process On Feb. 14, 2012, President Obama signed H.R. 658 the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, the final step in making the FAA Reauthorization a law. It ended a five-year-long effort for an FAA bill and more than seven years of NATCA trying to amend Title 49 and establish fair collective bargaining process for all of our members. Sec. 601, which addresses the personnel management system, was the critical provision which ensures that FAA bargaining units will never again have work and pay rules imposed upon them by their employer. NATCALogo BargainingUnit Slide 2013: Fighting Sequestration In the spring of 2013, a new and horribly destructive word was introduced into our vocabulary: sequestration. It’s a tool designed to reduce federal expenditures via across-the-board spending cuts. But when used by Congress in 2013, the effects were felt immediately and dramatically in the National Airspace System with forced furloughs of controllers, reducing staffing on most shifts, and increasing delays and air travel misery. NATCA unleashed a massive legislative and public relations campaign to stop it. Congress quickly acted to exempt controllers from these automatic cuts. Slide 2013: Consolidated CBA is Signed A milestone in NATCA’s history of strong labor relations work was reached on June 2, 2013, when the Union and the FAA signed the Consolidated Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) covering the Engineers and Architects (E&A), Staff Specialists (SSS), and Aviation System Specialists (ATSS) bargaining units. We soon added the Flight Procedures units. All non-operational ATO bargaining units are covered by what we call the Purple Book. Slide 2016: Slate book makes history The Slate Book, covering the ATC, FSS, TMU, and NOTAM bargaining units, went into effect, becoming the first collective bargaining agreement (CBA) to establish an article solely about collaboration. Interest-based bargaining was a leap of faith, but there was trust in collaboration on both sides. The result was a big step forward in the parties’ relationship. “In this case, we worked our way through a term agreement for over 14,000 employees without requiring the outside assistance for arbitration or even mediation,” Chief Negotiator Dean Iacopelli said. The NATCA membership ratified the contract with the highest percentage of any CBA in the Union’s history: 98.32 percent. Slide 2018: Rinaldi & Gilbert Win 4th Term In 2018, both President Paul Rinaldi and Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert won re-election to serve the membership for an unprecedented fourth term. Nobody else has served more than two terms in either office. That is not, however, the first time they have made history. Although NATCA’s top two positions are elected separately, in 2009 they campaigned for their respective positions as a team, which had never been done. Since taking office in 2009 Rinaldi and Gilbert have continued to work as a team, along with the NATCA National Executive Board, elevating NATCA to new levels of success. Slide 2019: Speaking out to end shutdown On Jan. 16, 2019, two weeks into the government shutdown, Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert announced on CNN, for the first time, that the National Airspace System was less safe than when the shutdown began. “Right now, you’re putting this incredible strain on the system which is unacceptable and unreasonable,” she said. The urgency of ending the shutdown was raised. Slide 2020: Collaboration Results in Flexible Schedule During Pandemic Just two weeks after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States and the rapid reduction of air traffic volume, NATCA and the FAA agreed to a national flexible schedule initiative to help ensure the health of our members. It was the result of a monumental collaborative effort with the Agency and tireless work from our NATCAvists across the country. Schedule negotiations and bidding usually take months using a process we’ve known and followed for years, but this was accomplished in a few days. "It was a genuine collaborative effort with the FAA to address the safety and health of the ATCS workforce,” said Eastern RVP Rich Santa, who was the NEB lead on the development and implementation of the COVID-19 Flexible Schedules. “I’m so proud and impressed with our FacReps who worked to implement these new schedules in such a short period of time.” NATCALogo BargainingUnit Slide Learn more: Charitable Foundation Benefits of
being a member
Natca's Mission Natca Newsroom Follow us: NATCALogo BargainingUnit

Latest Headlines


2016 Slate Book

Bargaining Units Covered
Air Traffic Control Specialists located in terminal and en route facilities, Traffic Management Coordinators/Specialists in terminal and en route facilities and the Air Traffic Control System Command Center (ATCSCC), NOTAM Specialists at the ATCSCC, and Air Traffic Control Specialists assigned to the Flight Service option.

2013 Purple Book

Bargaining Units Covered
Engineers and Architects (E&A), Staff Specialists (SSS), Aviation System Specialists (ATSS), and Flight Procedures.

2011 Light Blue Book

Bargaining Units Covered
Drug Abatement (DAI), ABA-Budget (ABA), AFN, Automation Specialist (AOS), Aircraft Certification (AIR and AIR-110), General Counsel (AGC), Logistics (ARO), and Airports (ARP).

FCT Contracts

2016 RVA CBA
Covering the NATCA-represented Federal Contract Towers operated by Robinson Aviation (RVA), Inc.

2014 Serco CBA
Covering the NATCA-represented Federal Contract Towers operated by Serco, Inc.

2016 Midwest CBA
Covering the NATCA-represented Federal Contract Towers operated by Midwest Air Traffic Control Service, Inc.

DOD Contracts

2013 SLI CBA
The agreement between NATCA and the Department of Defense Army National Guard National Guard Bureau Readiness Center, Los Alamitos Aviation Division (SLI), Los Alamitos, Calif.

2005 NKT CBA
Negotiated Agreement Between NATCA and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. (NKT).

2003 JRF CBA
Agreement between NATCA and the 297th Air Traffic Control Squadron, Kalaeloa Airport (JRF), Hawaii.

NATCA Member Testimonials

Patrick Massie from Region X talks about joining NATCA
Gloria Ibarra from Region X talks about Joining NATCA
Pam Rusk from Region X talks about joining NATCA

Exclusive Benefits to NATCA Members

Being a NATCA member entitles you to enjoy a vast array of valuable benefits. We are extremely proud of the work NATCA has done to secure these for our hard-working members. Our benefits range from long-term disability insurance, to retirement and financial planning, to travel and entertainment, to products and services like Ford automobiles and Geico insurance, and much more. We partner with Union Plus to offer even more benefits ranging from clothing and entertainment discounts to legal services.


Total number of NATCA locals across the National Airspace System
(as of May 28, 2021)


Number of passengers served in the National Airspace System in 2019 (Source: U.S. DOT, Bureau of Transportation Statistics)


Total Bargaining Unit employees represented by NATCA
(as of May 28, 2021)


Total NATCA members
(as of May 28, 2021)

NATCA represents 17 different bargaining units, including now AFN, and provides the strongest representation for professionals in every facet of aviation support and safety. Every NATCA bargaining unit employee has a voice, and NATCA’s leadership keenly understands our professions.

Moreover, NATCA and the FAA have built one of the most collaborative labor-management relationships in the federal government. NATCA recognizes how important individual members are, and the Union works for issues that members of each of the bargaining units really care about. I know your voice can make a difference.

Brad Davidson
Region X Vice President

Become a NATCA Member

If you are part of a NATCA bargaining unit, you are eligible to join the Union as a full member and receive access to our great member benefits. Simply fill out the appropriate applications below and the 1187 form to request a payroll deduction of dues.

Member Application (PDF)

SF1187 Request for Payroll Deduction of Dues (PDF)

FCT Dues Deduction (PDF)

RNAV Application (PDF)

Retired members can stay active in the Union through our Retired NATCA Active Volunteers (RNAV) program. Annual dues are $35, or $350 for a lifetime membership.

Platinum Retired Membership is an exclusive membership given automatically at no cost to NATCA members who fall into one or both of the following categories:

  • NATCA members who paid dues as active members for 20+ consecutive years immediately prior to their retirement.
  • Charter members who paid dues as active members consecutively from the inception of their membership until their retirement date.
Family Associate Membership – $25 Annually

$25 annually. To qualify for a Family Associate Membership, you must be a family member of an active or retired NATCA member.

  • The NATCA Insider e-newsletter
  • Union Plus Benefits
  • SIG Alternate FEGLI Insurance
  • Discounted GEICO Insurance Services
  • Access to the NATCA Store
  • A special family NATCA email address
Standard Associate Membership – $100 Annually
  • The NATCA Insider e-newsletter
  • SIG Alternate FEGLI Insurance
  • Discounted GEICO Insurance Services
  • Access to the NATCA Store

NATCA now offers three different types of Associate Membership: Family, Standard and Premium. Each type has different membership eligibility requirements, available benefits and membership fees.

Premium Associate Membership – $250 Annually
  • The NATCA Insider e-newsletter
  • SIG Alternate FEGLI Insurance
  • Discounted GEICO Insurance Services
  • Access to the NATCA Store
  • Continue Long Term Disability purchased as member.*
  • Aviation medical consultation service**

NATCA now offers three different types of Associate Membership: Family, Standard and Premium. Each type has different membership eligibility requirements, available benefits and membership fees.

*Eligible to continue existing Long Term Disability insurance policy purchased as a NATCA mem/ber

**Aviation medical consultation service (if you require a FAA medical certificate in conjunction with your employment)

Corporate Memberships

Standard Corporate Membership – $500 Annually

Benefits include:

  • Company name and logo listed on NATCA’s website
  • Access to the NATCA Store
  • NATCA press releases
  • The NATCA Insider e-newsletter
Premium Corporate Membership – $1,250 Annually

Benefits include:

  • Company name and logo listed on NATCA’s website
  • Access to the NATCA Store
  • NATCA press releases
  • The NATCA Insider e-newsletter
  • Inclusion of profile on NATCA Websites
  • Early selection of NATCA event sponsorship opportunities
  • Discounted NATCA event sponsorship opportunities
  • Invitation to NATCA’s Annual Leadership Reception
  • Access to NATCA’s job posting database

Corporate Members

Premium Corporate Members

Standard Corporate Members

Jump to top of page