The AFL-CIO Executive Council recognizes the service of Paul Rinaldi, retired president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA).
Determined to lead by example, Rinaldi embraced the role of facility representative at the Washington–Dulles Air Traffic Control Tower in 1996, where he organized 100% of the bargaining unit into the facility’s local NATCA chapter.
He climbed the union ranks and, in 2009, he was elected as NATCA’s president, serving for a NATCA-record of four terms until his retirement from the position in 2021. When he took office, NATCA members were suffering under imposed work and pay rules. But, within a couple of years, Federal Labor Relations Authority Chairman Ernest DuBester said the NATCA–Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) relationship “went from one of the worst labor–management relationships in the federal government to…a model relationship.”
During his tenure as president, Rinaldi placed NATCA as the leading voice for working people who keep America’s air travel safe. Through legislation and in NATCA’s groundbreaking 2016 collective bargaining agreement with the FAA, he secured the union’s right to have a seat at the table to take part in the decisions being made to modernize technologies and procedures that affect NATCA members every day.
His fierce dedication to enhance NATCA members’ quality of life was what inspired him to achieve better relations with the FAA and collaborate with industry leaders and policymakers. Rinaldi was successful at driving change from the bottom up, empowering members through education and activism to negotiate better working conditions, establishing labor–management collaboration, and improving professionalism at facilities throughout the country.
Under his leadership, NATCA secured passage of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which provided hard-won collective bargaining rights so that NATCA members would never again suffer under management-imposed work and pay rules.
Rinaldi’s loyalty to the union members he represented who keep the flying public safe is an example for all in the labor movement to aspire to.
The Executive Council thanks Paul Rinaldi, and on behalf of our 57 affiliated unions, we wish him well as he takes the next steps in his career.