NATCA Honors Those of PATCO
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
This week marked the 30th anniversary of the PATCO strike, when thousands of air traffic control men and women stood up for their working rights and made a sacrifice that still resonates through our profession, and the labor industry, today.
The following is a message that NATCA President Paul Rinaldi and EVP Trish Gilbert sent out to members on Aug. 3 in recognition of this significant anniversary:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The date was August 3, 1981. Thousands of men and women across the country walked the line under the hot summer sun, holding cardboard signs that read “On Strike,” chanting and demanding an equitable contract. Thirty years ago today, our PATCO Brothers and Sisters took a heroic stand against substandard working conditions, inadequate staffing and unfair work and pay rules. Over 13,000 professional air traffic controllers, 79 percent of the workforce, walked the picket line in hopes of improving their professions and to ensure that the National Airspace System remained the safest and most efficient in the world.
It’s difficult to imagine the situation in which these men and women found themselves. The loss of income that supported PATCO families did not overshadow the loss of a job they loved. Our PATCO Brothers and Sisters took a stand with a firm vision of the bigger picture, and they paid dearly for their dedication to our profession.
Shortly after their firings, the Department of Transportation released a staffing report, noting that air traffic controllers staffing dropped from 16,375 to about 4,200. As the FAA began hiring thousands of new controllers, the past loomed like a shadow. Six years later, on June 19, 1987, NATCA was officially certified as the exclusive bargaining unit representative for FAA air traffic controllers - born from the ashes of our past, ready to forge a new labor future for the air traffic workforce.
PATCO controllers who lost their jobs made a sacrifice that still resonates through our profession. On this solemn anniversary we should all pause and look back with gratitude to our PATCO Brothers and Sisters for making that incredible sacrifice. Because of their beliefs and conviction, the National Airspace System remains the safest, most efficient system in the world.
NATCA owes a great deal to the members of PATCO. The sacrifices of our PATCO Brothers and Sisters, and the lessons learned from those sacrifices, must never be forgotten. We must continue to reach out and educate our newest members. We must not take our jobs or our union rights for granted. We must remember that history can only teach us if we remember it accurately and continue to keep PATCO’s indelible story alive in our collective memory. Join us in honoring them today and thanking them for all that they did.
Executive Vice President
On Wednesday, NATCA put out the following press release regarding the PATCO anniversary:
In addition, NATCA National Office put together the following video reflecting this influential period in history, which also currently resides on the members' homepage: