On August 3, 1981, nearly 13,000 air traffic controllers in the United States went on strike after negotiations between the air traffic controllers union, PATCO, and the United States government broke down. The government and the press in the United States focused on the very basic desires of the air traffic controllers and reported that they were looking for a raise in pay, a shorter workweek and an improved retirement plan. Many of the strikers maintained that the pay raise, as requested, was negotiable, what they really wanted was improved working conditions and recognition. The union President, Robert Poli, brought a list of 97 demands to the negotiating table, 60 of which dealt with working conditions.

Once the strike was declared, all across the United States flights were cancelled and the strike affected transportation world-wide.

The President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, declared the strike to be illegal and threatened to fire any controller who did not return to work within 48 hours.

On August 5, 1981, President Reagan made good on his threat and fired the 11,359 air-traffic controllers who had not returned to work. He also issued a lifetime ban on rehiring any of the strikers by the Federal Aviation Administration. The Reagan Administration was then able to hire unqualified people to be trained as air traffic controlers at a lower rate of pay. On October 22, 1981, the Federal Labor Relations Authority decertified the air traffic controllers union, PATCO.


Source:
http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/journals/EH/EH37/Pels.html

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