Friday, June 22, 2007

FAA History Lesson -- June 22

From the FAA Historical Chronology, 1926-1996...

”Jun 22, 1981: Department of Transportation and PATCO representatives reached agreement on a tentative new contract after a marathon bargaining session, thus averting a threatened nationwide strike by PATCO-affiliated controllers that had been scheduled to begin at 7 a.m., Monday, Jun 22. Secretary of Transportation Drew Lewis and PATCO President Robert Poli had gone back to the bargaining table Friday evening, Jun 19, at the behest of Representative James J. Howard (D-N.J.), chairman of the House Public Works Committee. The resumption of talks may also have been prompted by a letter to Poli from 36 U.S. Senators, stating that a strike by PATCO "will do nothing to further your goals of increased pay and changes in working conditions." The bargaining sessions, which took place at the offices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and were joined in by Federal mediator Kenneth Moffett, lasted more than 25 hours, with the last session running past 3 a.m., Monday.

The agreement contained four key provisions, which the Reagan Administration agreed to recommend to Congress:

* A "responsibility" differential that would give controllers 42 hours pay for each normal 40 hour week worked.

* An increase in the night differential from 10 to 15 percent of base pay.

* The exclusion of overtime, night differential, and Sunday and holiday pay from the limitations of the Federal pay cap.

* A retraining allowance equivalent to 14 weeks of base pay for controllers who became medically disqualified after five consecutive years of service at the journeyman level or above and who were ineligible for retirement or disability compensation. “

Obviously, the “tentative” agreement didn’t hold. Only one month and 11 days later PATCO went on strike and the world changed. Not just the air traffic world but your world too. Most historians now cite the PATCO strike in 1981 as a pivotal event in the decline of unions in America (along with your working conditions.)

And just in case you don’t see the relevance (or the similarities) to today’s events, you might want to read this article from The Washington Post yesterday.

Don Brown
June 22, 2007

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