Saturday, August 05, 2017

1981: Leadership Reagan style and the air controllers

Image result for reagan air controller newspaper images

Like many of you, I yearned for presidential leadership during the Obama years. 
In other words, please give us a president who leads and sets the tone.    Don’t give us the “wimpy” Obama but rather a firm Bush or Reagan.
Let’s hope that President Trump understands that the public wants a leader.   So far, he is off to a good start although he lacks some of the political sensibilities necessary for the job.
“On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan begins firing 11,359 air-traffic controllers striking in violation of his order for them to return to work. The executive action, regarded as extreme by many, significantly slowed air travel for months.
Two days earlier, on August 3, almost 13,000 air-traffic controllers went on strike after negotiations with the federal government to raise their pay and shorten their workweek proved fruitless. The controllers complained of difficult working conditions and a lack of recognition of the pressures they face. Across the country, some 7,000 flights were canceled. The same day, President Reagan called the strike illegal and threatened to fire any controller who had not returned to work within 48 hours. Robert Poli, president of the Professional Air-Traffic Controllers Association (PATCO), was found in contempt by a federal judge and ordered to pay $1,000 a day in fines.
On August 5, an angry President Reagan carried out his threat, and the federal government began firing the 11,359 air-traffic controllers who had not returned to work. In addition, he declared a lifetime ban on the rehiring of the strikers by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). On August 17, the FAA began accepting applications for new air-traffic controllers, and on October 22 the Federal Labor Relations Authority decertified PATCO.”

It was a tough call but President Reagan was right.  It was also one of the first times that a leader of a democracy had stood up to a public sector union and prevailed.
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