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NATCA Honors Sacrifice of PATCO Controllers on 31st Anniversary of 1981 Strike - (8/3/2012)

CONTACT: Doug Church, 202-220-9802

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.”

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