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Unread 08-02-2006, 11:26 PM   #1
cx
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Happy Anniversary Patco

HAPPY 25th ANNIVERSARY PATCO STRIKE

Today, August third, is the twenty fifth anniversary of the day in 1981 that CX and some 12,500 of his closest friends declined to go to work in the nation's Air Traffic Control Towers and Air Route Traffic Control Centers and were subsequently fired by the Department of Transportation at the order of President Ronald Reagan.

Many controllers were initially arrested and jailed, but later released. Six were tried for the felony offense of Striking Against The Government, 18USC1918. Four of those were sentenced to one year and a day in federal penitentiary. I was not one of those convicted, but I did visit every weekend at the prisons with those who were serving time for committing the same "crime" as did I and thousands of others.

The Union, PATCO (Professional Air Traffic Controller's Organization), was bankrupted and finally decertified by the same government.

Some of you might recall this as the same year during which the same administration, under Ronald Reagan, was in full and glowing support of the Solidarity Union being formed and led by Lech Walesa in Poland.

You may also recognize that as the year that began the steep decline in the labor movement in the United States.

So, let the celebrations begin, and swell with pride to live in a country where no man could be led away in shackles for doing nothing more than refusing to go to work. Well, usually...............

Regardless your feelings pro or con about the strike (if indeed any of you remember it at all), I think it worthwhile to be reminded what happened. Here. In the United States of America. Twenty five years ago. People were sent to prison for refusing to go to work.

Lest we should ever forget.
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Unread 08-03-2006, 06:17 AM   #2
sdaniels7114
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I was a little too young to be aware of it at the time; but I've learned quite a bit about just how tough that job is in the interim. I've sat in the right seat of more than one little airplane and listened with my teeth clenched as one of my own students struggled to learn about ATC in the only manner you really can, by showing up at their door and trying to just understand let alone comply with that baffeling language they talk.

I never once heard a controller yell at a student. I can't say I was always as patient. My ownradio work was polished, concise and professional from day one of course

I know the words are cheap coming from someone who was 12 when you guys struck; but if I had been old enough I'd have done what I could. You guys got jobbed.
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Unread 08-03-2006, 09:08 AM   #3
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cx I remember it well . . . mixed feelings then and now about the strike, mixed feelings then and now about organized labor, mixed feelings then about Reagan's actions and serious doubts about it now, real admiration for anyone who can be an ATC. Anyway, you are one very interesting person . . . former ATC, independent builder/tiler, etc., owl chaser, JB Forum moderator . . . what other surprises do you have???
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Unread 08-03-2006, 09:09 AM   #4
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Snappy dresser!
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Unread 08-03-2006, 03:47 PM   #5
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N wonder my plane crashed cx thought it was a owl. Geesh cx what havent you done???? Oh yeah Jb is looking for ya to drive him home he says he is too tired
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Unread 08-03-2006, 07:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Opie
Geesh cx what havent you done?
I've never jumped out of an airplane in flight, Dan, but it's on my list of things to do before I get too old.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clyde
what other surprises do you have???
Commercial Pilot, Multi-engine & Instrument Ratings; Licensed Hunting Guide in New Mexico; Certified Rescue Crewman in fixed wing and helicopter; onliest guy you know been thrown out of a federal penitentiary; Graduated Magnum Come Loudy from Dave Gobis' Tile Inspection school if he'd ever git around to gradin' my test.

Mmmm, gotta be more that. I alla time like to learn new stuff, Clyde.
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Now, can we get back to the original subject matter? It's important.
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Unread 08-04-2006, 06:45 AM   #7
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I was working for a "non-federal" federal power utility during that time. I joined the engineering association, knowing full well that it wasn't a "real" union because we did not have the right to strike. (We had other ways of making our points, like dropping our savings bonds, but striking wasn't one of them.) Anyone who hired in knew this from the very first day, so there was never an issue.

I grew up in a brown-collar family. Hard work, poor pay, no union. I watched the news on TV and read the papers regarding long and bitter strikes at the local factories or railroads, and always marvaled how long they'd be on strike for a few cents an hour.

I remember when Reagan fired the ATCs. I couldn't believe that PATCO would go that far, but when they did, I didn't think Reagan had any other choice. You can't strike the federal government, that's the law.

I believe that there was a time when unions were necessary to protect the rights of workers. I also believe that the unions shot themselves in their collective foot by demanding too much from their employers during the good times, and refusing to give back during the bad times. I fully support anyone who wishes to organize themselves, though. Just don't ask me to join.

I believe that you have choices in life. When you choose to take a job, you also choose to abide by the rules. When you choose to go to work, you choose to put up with the pressures and stresses of the job. When you choose to violate the rules, you also choose to accept the consequences.

Kelly, I respect you and consider you my friend. So stop yer whining, fer cryin' out loud!
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Unread 08-04-2006, 07:14 AM   #8
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no comment on legalities or otherwise. I remain ambivilent about the (imo) dubious merits of labour unions.
if memory serves weren't there dire warnings about the consequences to air traffic safety of Reagans actions? given that planes didn't drop out the skies and traffic has increased by at least one order of magnitude, is not a reasonable conclusion that perhaps the Administration knew at least as much as PATCO on the issue?
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Unread 08-04-2006, 01:40 PM   #9
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I remember

I was just beginning my career in FAA-certified and military flight simulators at the time of the strike. All the people I knew who were personally affected by the event weren't just the controllers. While I felt for the controllers and I'm not altogether comfortable with the consequences they received, I also didn't like the results of the strike. What I mean is: the strike played on the paranoia of the general public and the nation. That's practically tantamount to terrorism.

On the other hand, the controllers felt like they didn't have any options left to negotiate. It was hard then - and still hard now - to decide who was right and who was wrong. It just felt wrong all the way around.

I think we should remember, cx. If for no other reason than to avoid such events in the future.
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Unread 08-04-2006, 04:43 PM   #10
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Everbody axe Kelly 'bout the time he ALMOST got the chance to jump out of an airplane.

Lance, how have you been?
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Unread 08-04-2006, 04:52 PM   #11
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Unfortunately it still hasn't helped those guys. Overworked, underpaid, ill equipped. It will take something truly horrific to wake up the FAA.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Strain is tremendous it would cause anybody to crack, I hope y'all keep that in mind when dealing with CX.

CX in his lifetime was also a MLB umpire he organized that strike too. After that he brokered the deal that split the AFL-CIO, spearheaded the movement to organize Toyota, Nissan and Walmart.

At present he is completing his first novel tentatively titled "The Owl and the Pussycat"
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Unread 08-04-2006, 04:55 PM   #12
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Maybe he knows where Jimmy Hoffa is, too.
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Unread 08-08-2006, 10:12 AM   #13
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Uh-huh

For all we know, he IS Jimmy Hoffa.

He's just saying he's done all that stuff cuz he really has. It's been *&#$ trying to lay low all these years and he's had to pick up a few skills to make his new identities believable.
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Unread 09-04-2006, 11:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob
I was working for a "non-federal" federal power utility during that time. I joined the engineering association, knowing full well that it wasn't a "real" union because we did not have the right to strike. (We had other ways of making our points, like dropping our savings bonds, but striking wasn't one of them.) Anyone who hired in knew this from the very first day, so there was never an issue.
It's a little different situation when you're working for the only existing employer in the country, Bob. Once you'd been in the business long enough to be fully trained, you no longer had any marketable skills outside your profession and you had no option to take your skills elsewhere. The issues become very different when your employer has violated nearly all the important parts of the "negotiated" contract and smiles because you have no recourse. And we had tried lesser protests in past, only to be told by the federal courts that anything our members did in concert was a "job action" and the same as a strike - including "sick outs," "work to rule" (just doing what the regulations governing our profession required), or even resigning. It's a little different world than the one where we're free to sell our talents elsewhere if we want.

Quote:
I remember when Reagan fired the ATCs. I couldn't believe that PATCO would go that far, but when they did, I didn't think Reagan had any other choice. You can't strike the federal government, that's the law.
Actually that's not the law. The law clearly states that a person may not work for the government if he has participated in a strike. The only people who actually broke any law were the scabs who went back after striking, with the blessing of the government, of course. And the criminal penalties are ever more convoluted, actually making it a felony to have violated the civil statute. It was not too many years before the strike that it was also a felony offense to belong to an organization that advocated the right to strike. You would have also said it's OK to send people to prison for that? In America?

Prior to the 1981 PATCO strike there had been 26 strikes by employees of federal agencies, including one by PATCO (a sick-out in 1970). No one had ever been prosecuted under the criminal statutes and very few had ever even been fired. It was clearly not considered against the law by the government in past.

But all that's water under the bridge, eh? On this Labor Day I just wanted to bring it up again and for the same purpose as before: Don't want y'all to forget that your federal government is not a domesticated animal any more and you will be wise not to trust it at any turn.

And just for fun, and to point out the lengths to which PATCO had gone to correct the very serious problems in the Air Traffic Control system, here's a letter written by a Presidential candidate the organizational leaders chose to endorse in 1980. I was opposed to such an endorsement myownself, and told our fearless leader, Bob Poli, that I damn sure wouldn't vote for the guy, no matter what he promised. But here's a copy of the promises, which I re-typed just for y'all on accounta my copy is old and frail and can't be taken out of its frame for scanning. I certify that this is 'zackly what it says:
Quote:
RONALD REAGAN

October 20, 1980


Robert E. Poli, President
Professional Air Traffic Controllers
Organization
444 Capitol Street
Washington, D. C.

Dear Mr. Poli:

I have been thoroughly briefed by members of my staff as to the deplorable state of our nation’s air traffic control system. They have told me that too few people working unreasonable hours with obsolete equipment has placed the nation’s air travelers in unwarranted danger. In an area so clearly related to public safety the Carter administration has failed to act responsibly.

You can rest assured that if I am elected President, I will take whatever steps are necessary to provide our air traffic controllers with the most modern equipment available and to adjust staff levels and work day so that they are commensurate with achieving a maximum degree of public safety.

As in all other areas of the federal government where the President has the power of appointment, I fully intend to appoint highly qualified individuals who can work harmoniously with the Congress and the employees of the government agencies they oversee.

I pledge to you that my administration will work very closely with you to bring about a spirit of cooperation between the President and the air traffic controllers. Such harmony can and must exist if we are to restore the people’s confidence in their government.

Sincerely,

RONALD REAGAN
So he appointed Drew Lewis as Transportation Secretary and J. Lynn Helms as FAA Administrator - and the rest is history. It's possible he could have made worse choices, but it would not have been an easy thing.

Happy Labor Day to all.


PS:
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjwq8
if memory serves weren't there dire warnings about the consequences to air traffic safety of Reagans actions? given that planes didn't drop out the skies and traffic has increased by at least one order of magnitude, is not a reasonable conclusion that perhaps the Administration knew at least as much as PATCO on the issue?
No, Jeremy, what the FAA did to get them through (aside from outright lying) was put into effect some measures that PATCO had lobbied for for years. That and luck, of course, which is what we relied all too heavily upon then and is relied heavily upon now.

If the Agency had implemented ten percent of the "Flow Control" measures used to break the strike before the fact, there would have been no strike at all. It would have been that simple. Those measures remain in effect to some extent still today.

Oh, and for an even more fun Labor Day for those of you who have actually read this far, look here what the FAA gave the current controllers (who have just a month or so ago been forced to accept the FAA version of the "Collective Bargaining Agreement" after impass in "negotiations) in honor of this special day. Some things never change.
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Last edited by cx; 09-04-2006 at 11:53 PM. Reason: typo
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Unread 09-05-2006, 07:37 AM   #15
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...long enough to be fully trained, you no longer had any marketable skills outside your profession ...
You ever de-fuel a berylium-fluoride reactor? Know anybody that needs that done?
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