Tuesday, March 25, 2008

FAA History Lesson -- March 25

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

” Mar 25-Apr 10, 1970: Some 3,000 air traffic controllers, all members of PATCO, engaged in a "sickout" strike. All but a few of those involved were en route, rather than terminal, controllers. Some remained absent for a day or two, others for the entire 17-day period. The work stoppage reflected widespread discontent, but its immediate trigger was FAA's decision to ignore PATCO's protests and carry out the involuntary transfer of three controllers from the Baton Rouge combined station-tower. The absentees claimed sick leave, but the Department of Transportation viewed their action as a strike against the U.S. government and hence illegal. The government obtained temporary restraining orders against PATCO. When the union failed to comply with these orders, a show-cause order was obtained against its officers. During the hearing on the show-cause order, PATCO agreed to call off the "sickout." FAA suspended nearly 1,000 controllers and fired 52 for their role in the affair. (See Feb 18, 1970, and Apr 23, 1970.) “

History is always a little different -- depending upon the sources. As I understood it, every one of those controllers was rehired -- except for Mike Rock. Mike Rock was one of the original founders of PATCO. The stories I was told seem to be verified in this document.

” 1970: PATCO stages a three-week "sick-out" in which 2,200 controllers participate. The Air Transport Association wins a court order ending the job action. PATCO ignores the order, but an eventual deal bars PATCO from further job actions. Sixty-seven controllers are fired. All but PATCO founder Mike Rock eventually are reinstated. “

If you’re interested in the bigger story, a good place to start is ”The Pressures of PATCO by Rebecca Pels.

Don Brown
March 25, 2008

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