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Professional Air Traffic Controllers Orgnaization

February 14, 2012 472 No of hits
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Professional Air Traffic Controllers Orgnaization

The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization is a text book example of union efforts gone wrong.

PATCO, as it was known, formed in 1968 with the help of a well-known attorney and pilot, F. Lee Bailey. Since air traffic controllers are federal employees, they are not allowed to strike; doing so had the potential to cripple the nation's air transportation.

Since strikes were illegal they opted for more subversive methods of expressing their displeasure with the status quo. In July of 1968 they initiated what they called "Operation Air Safety" which was essentially a work slowdown that resulted in severe delays at airports across the country.

They tried to circumvent union regulations at first by calling themselves a professional association, but in 1969, the U.S. Civil Service Commission designated the group as a trade union.

Now officially a union, they had to be even more careful about their endeavors. In March 1970 PATCO had what was called a `sick-out.' Since they were not allowed to legally strike, to protest some of the FAA's recent actions over 2,000 air traffic controllers called in sick. After a few days, the federal courts got involved and most of the controllers went back to work.

This actually ended up working out for the union because the government conceded that the current system was operating at capacity. The government began recruiting new candidates for the ATC School, increased salaries, and installed more automated systems.

The death blow for PATCO came in August 1981. Even though most unions were against Ronald Reagan, PATCO supported his election over Jimmy Carter in 1980. The support earned them no favor, and on August 3, 1981, the government refused to reduce the work week, double salaries, give a $10,000 bonus, and provide for early retirement for air traffic controllers and all 16,000 members went on strike.

The government gave them 48 hours to get back to work, and when they didn't, they instituted a plan where military air traffic controllers and supervisors stepped in to pick up the slack. Some strikers returned, but many did not. The strike collapsed and along with it so did PATCO.

Tags:   Professional Air Traffic Controllers Orgnaization   PATCO   F. Lee Bailey   Sick-out   Operation Air Safety   Ronald Reagan  

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The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization is a text book example of union efforts gone wrong.

PATCO, as it was known, formed in 1968 with the help of a well-known attorney and pilot, F. Lee Bailey. Since air traffic controllers are federal employees, they are not allowed...

By: Richard Martine Created 75 months ago

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