NATCA Honors PATCO
NATCA Honors Sacrifice of PATCO Controllers on 31st Anniversary of 1981 Strike
WASHINGTON – On Aug. 3, 1981, the men and women of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO), in their fight for a safer work environment, reliable equipment, adequate staffing levels and fair work and pay rules, took a courageous stand and began a strike in fierce support of these goals and for the profession they so dearly loved. Today, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association remembers the sacrifice they made.
Nearly 13,000 controllers – about 85 percent of the union’s membership and 79 percent of the workforce – honored the picket lines. Two days later, they were fired. In all, 11,350 controllers lost their jobs. About 875 returned to work before the firings. According to the Transportation Department, staffing dropped 74 percent—from 16,375 to about 4,200.
Said NATCA President Paul Rinaldi, “PATCO controllers made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the air traffic control profession and today, especially, we honor that. While the administration thought they could diminish the efforts of the nation’s air traffic controllers, the organization and certification of NATCA six years later – while the same administration was still in office – proved otherwise.”
Added NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert: “Today we remember how the PATCO members demonstrated an extraordinary level of commitment to their profession, to their goals and to each other. They showed the way for those of us in NATCA who came after them. Their efforts were not lost, as NATCA’s original members organized for the same reasons that the more than 11,000 controllers were fired—better working conditions and dedication to the safety and integrity of the National Airspace System.”
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association represents over 20,000 highly skilled controllers, engineers and other safety professionals.
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Re: NATCA Honors PATCO
Thank you for the very kind tribute. I still deem it an honor to be a member of the PATCO class of 1981. We were right in making our case for a shorter work week, and better working conditions , such as eliminating the rotating work schedule, and having more imput in safety procedures. We faced only an 11% chance of making it to a normal retirement and I don't suppose that it has changed much over the past 31 years. Being an Air Traffic Controller was a wondeful job and I still miss it to this day but I don't regret for one minute going out on strike and standing with my brother and sister controllers for what we believed in. I sincerely wish you all the best of luck in the coming years.