Q3 2021

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80 70 70 100 10.2 7.4 7.4 100 100 100 100 100 60 100 100 70 70 30 30 100 100 60 100 100 100 100 70 70 30 30 100 100 60 70 70 40 70 70 30 30 100 40 100 40 40 100 10 40 40 20 70 70 3.1 2.2 2.2 70 40 40 75 66 66 50 40 40 25 19 19 B 0 0 0 0 100 70 30 100 10 25 50 75 90 100 100 60 100 70 30 100 60 40 70 40 70 30 100 40 40 100 40 100 40 70 40 70 40 40 3 40 70 40 70 40 40 100 60 A 3% ISO 12647-7 Digital Control Strip 2009 10 C I N E M O N T A G E in the words of historian Erik Loomis, "the greatest disaster in American labor history." Having voted in July to reject a tentative agreement, the members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) walked off the job on the morning of August 3, 1981. Their fateful work stoppage continues to loom large in the consciousness and conscience of organized labor four de- cades later. The controllers knew that the safety of air travel depended upon their high- ly-skilled and extraordinarily taxing work, as the LaGuardia incident made plain. Indeed, the connection between air traffic controllers' working conditions and public safety had largely motivated the formation of their union in 1968. In G E T T I N G O R G A N I Z E D Up in the Air FORTY YEARS AGO, THE PATCO STRIKE SENT LABOR'S FORTUNES PLUMMETING. ARE THE SKIES ABOUT TO GET FRIENDLIER FOR WORKERS? By Rob Callahan L a t e o n a n e a r l y A u g u s t m o r n - ing, a Douglas DC-9 made its way through cloudy skies above north- ern New Jersey, on approach to land at LaGuardia Airport. The Air Cana- da flight from Toronto carried 76 souls aboard. Flying through clouds at 15,000 feet, the pilot was startled to discover another DC-9, outbound from LaGuar- d i a , a t t h e s a m e a l t i t u d e . T h e t w o aircraft avoided an accident — the pi- lot of the outbound New York Air DC-9 never even saw the Air Canada jet shar- ing its airspace — but the near-miss was close enough to make news the next day. At the very same hour, about 200 miles southwest of where the two planes passed in perilous proximity, the new President of the United States, not yet seven months in office, was making news of his own. Flanked by the Attorney Gen- eral and the Secretary of Transportation, Ronald Reagan addressed a throng of re- porters at a press conference in the White House's Rose Garden. The President — who retains to this day the distinction of being the only former labor union leader to later be elected as the nation's chief executive — stood at the podium and issued a stern ultimatum: "Those who failed to report for duty this morning," he said of striking air traffic controllers, "are in violation of the law, and, if they do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated." T h i s s u m m e r m a r k s t h e f o r t i e t h anniversary of what many regard as, the round of talks that led to their ill-fat- ed 1981 strike, the controllers had sought shorter working hours and the option to retire earlier — changes that would have not only improved the quality of life for these employees working unusually high-pressure jobs but would have also enhanced the safety of the skies. The agreement that the controllers voted down would have granted them wage increases more than twice those of other federal employees, but it fell far short of the controllers' goals. PATCO's slowdowns and work-to-rule actions [the practice of working to the strictest interpretation of the rules as a job action] of previous years had had dra- matic impacts on air travel and had won the union significant gains. The control- lers had hoped that their 1981 walkout would hobble the aviation industry and would force the Reagan administration back to the table to negotiate better terms. PATCO had defied the mainstream of the labor movement to endorse Rea- gan for election the previous year, and they banked on the prospect that the eco- nomic impact of a strike combined with the goodwill they procured through their rogue endorsement would persuade Reagan to buck the ultra-conservative anti-union elements in his own admin- istration who refused to accede further to the union's demands. (Indeed, in 1980 then- candidate Reagan had written the union a letter broadly supportive of the controllers' bargaining objectives.) Although PATCO had made little effort to court public opinion or even secure Rob Callahan.

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