Monday, 5 August 2019


Having first organised in 1968 as a trade association before representing the interests of members as a fully-fledged labour union and lobby, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers‘ Association was effectively disbanded on this day in 1981 when then president Ronald Reagan declared their strike, called two days prior, illegal as a “peril to national safety” and ordered the federal workforce back on the job, breaking the strike by firing over twelve-thousand employees.  Faced with a lifetime ban (later eased by degrees, relaxed first to allow them civil service jobs, just not their old positions back) on government employment and disempowered to pursue the working conditions that the industry needed, Reagan‘s firings—catching many off guard, the unions have backed his candidacy over Jimmy Carter‘s re-election over sore dealings with the Federal Aviation Administration thinking relations would improve—marking the beginning of the decline of organised labour in the US, lockouts, sickouts and strike actions having dropped precipitously over the decades.