Sunday, January 27, 2008

Writers and Controllers



It’s amazing where you bump into talk about air traffic controllers. I was searching for some news on the Writer’s Guild strike and found this article at The Huffington Post.

A Conversation with John Sayles on Labor and the Writers' Strike

Buried in the post, you’ll read this:

”That's why when Ronald Reagan first came to power and wanted to bust a union, he picked a well-paid bunch of people, the air traffic controllers. But then, when airplanes were about to crash all over the country, their successors got everything the original air traffic controllers were asking for. So it was a symbolic thing that Reagan did, but he knew he could do it because some of them made over $100,000 a year. Nobody was sympathetic to them.“

Now -- all you young controllers out there -- turn off the TV, pull out the ear buds, go read the whole thing and put your thinking cap on.

I don’t know John Sayles from Adam so I’m not going to tell you he’s the great thinker of our time. However, it’s been my observation that most successful artists are pretty sharp people with keen powers of observation. Even if they are a little odd. Controllers aren’t exactly “normal” either you know.

If nothing else, you’ll get a glimpse into how someone else sees the history of your profession. At best, it might spark an idea you can use. You would be surprised by where some of the ideas I’ve used over the years have come from. I know I was surprised.

Speaking of which, the rest of you need to do some thinking. This is as good a place as any. The Writer’s Guild is on strike. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association is not. They probably would be if it was legal. (Yes, thing are that bad.) If it gets much worse, they might go anyway.

The PATCO strike wasn’t the first illegal strike in this country and it won’t be the last. Unions themselves were once illegal. That didn’t stop the people from forming them. Nor did violence or even murder.

If you didn’t click on that last link, you should. History isn’t always what we were taught in school. It isn’t always about what happened. Sometimes, it’s about what didn’t happen. I wonder how history would have treated General Mitchell if he had gassed his own country’s citizens ?

Don Brown
January 27, 2008

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