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Air Traffic Controllers Oppose Renaming National Airport to "Ronald Reagan-Anything!" - (1/28/1997)

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Air traffic controllers adamantly oppose renaming Washington, D.C.'s, National Airport to "anything having to do with Ronald Reagan," according to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. "

The only thing Ronald Reagan ever did aviation-related was what he did TO us, not FOR us," NATCA Executive Vice President Randy Schwitz said today. "When Ronald Reagan fired 11,000 air traffic controllers in 1981 for striking, he set domestic aviation, the gross national product and the entire system back. To name a major U.S. airport after Reagan would be a slap in the face to today's controllers and the many thousands terminated still on the street waiting to be rehired by the Federal Aviation Administration. I'd rather have a hot poker in my eye than have an airport named after him."

Air traffic controller numbers have not caught up to pre-strike levels, leaving the system on the brink of being dangerously understaffed with only 14,000, compared to over 17,000 in 1981. Air transportation suffered in the years immediately after 11,000 controllers were terminated because of the time it took to locate replacements, interview, hire and train them.

"Ronald Reagan's impact on the labor movement was severe. He sent a message to employers everywhere that it is perfectly okay to ignore legitimate concerns of employees and, in fact, get rid of them for having the audacity to place public safety first. If anyone wants to name something after the former president, it should have nothing to do with either aviation or labor. National Airport has everything to do with both."

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