A dozen National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) members are joining the guest list for this evening’s State of the Union address. Every member of Congress is permitted to invite one guest to the annual presidential address on Capitol Hill, and often these guests highlight national issues. The invitations to the ATC team follow the campaign NATCA waged to end the partial U.S. government shutdown, putting a spotlight on the stress controllers endured while working without pay.
“These invitations are a testament to the respect that our members and our professions have earned on Capitol Hill and across the country,” said NATCA president Paul Rinaldi, who is the guest of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia).
The professionalism of the controllers, he added, “was never more evident than during the longest government shutdown in American history. Despite personal hardship and stress, uncertainty and fatigue, over 15,000 NATCA members went to work [and] did their jobs at the highest level.”
The 12 lawmakers issuing the invitations, all Democrats, include Sens. Patty Murray (Washington), Kamala Harris (California), Dick Durbin (Illinois), and Chuck Schumer (New York), along with Kaine. In the House, seven representatives issued invitations: Reps. Annie Kuster (New Hampshire), Matt Cartwright (Pennsylvania), David Cicilline (Rhode Island), Mark Takano (California), Katie Hill (California), Tom Suozzi (New York), and Jennifer Wexton (Virginia).
In addition to Rinaldi, the invited NATCA members are Jeff Aulbach (Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center), Ronan Byrne (New York Terminal Radar Approach Control), Allen Fritz (Reading Air Traffic Control Tower), Jamie Green (Providence Air Traffic Control Tower), Toby Hauck (Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center), Shyan Lasater-Bailey (Palm Springs Air Traffic Control Tower), Chrissy Lewis (Joshua Control Facility), Kevin Maney (New York Terminal Radar Approach Control), Linda McCray (Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center), Alex Navarro (Seattle Air Route Traffic Control Center), and Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik (Santa Barbara Air Traffic Control Tower).