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Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization records, Membership Files [Series VII]

 Series
Identifier: L1986-45_07

Scope and Content Series VII: Membership Files

The membership series (1970-1981) contains correspondence, personnel files, questionnaires, membership applications, and membership master files. This series includes two major components, membership questionnaires and master files. The membership-wide questionnaires detail the average controller’s perspectives on work-related questions leading up to the strike from 1978 to 1981. The master files (1979-1981) are large, bit-matrix printout membership lists. They cover PATCO’s entire lifespan, and give detailed information of the make-up of the organization’s membership over time.

Dates

  • 1957-1985

Creator

Restrictions on Access

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Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the Worldwide Web, any material from this collection, the researcher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright. Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult the reference archivist to determine copyright holders for information in this collection. Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original. All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.
This collection is stored off-site. Contact archivist in advance to view these materials; 24-hour notice is required.

History of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization

The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) was born in the New York area in 1968 to represent the interests of federally employed air traffic controllers. The objective of the organization was to preserve and promote, to improve the working conditions for air traffic controllers within the United States, its territories and possessions, and to represent its members in dealing with the Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration and other agencies concerning grievances, personnel policies, practices and other matters.

On August 3, 1981, the 15,000-member Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) went on strike. The PATCO members were responsible for guiding commercial airlines through their flights throughout the United States. The strike caused confusion, long delays, and worries about air travel safety. Because PATCO members were federal employees, their strike was illegal, and the federal government replied on August 5th by issuing dismissal notices to the approximately 12,000 controllers who refused to return to their jobs.

A tentative contract was reached in June with the FAA but was rejected by union members by more than 20 to 1. The issues that mattered to rank and file union members were wages, work hours, and retirement. These were the basis for all their complaints. Union members wanted a $10,000 across the board salary increase (base pay for a controller was $20,462). The FAA countered with an offer of $4,000. Robert Poli, union president, wanted to reduce the 40-hour five-day week to a 32-hour four-day week, but without a cut in salary for the reduced hours. Controllers deemed this their most important issue because they hoped it would cut down on the job stress experienced by so many of their group. They also wanted to change retirement requirements because they claimed that controllers "burn out" faster than other federal employees. In both of the last two demands, the government refused to discuss the issues.

By June 22, both sides hammered out an agreement that consisted of a 10% pay hike for controllers, a 20% increase in the nighttime work pay differential and a guaranteed 30-minute lunch period. Though Poli managed to get a few more benefits, he felt the overall package was not enough, and his members rejected the pact by 95%. Though the two sides went back to the bargaining table on July 31st, neither side seemed willing to budge and the strike began on August 3rd.

The following day, a federal judge imposed a fine of $2.4 million per day as long as the strike lasted. (This was later reduced.) The government also got a court order that barred the union from using its $3.7 million strike contingency fund and it began proceedings to have PATCO decertified. Union members and other unionists claimed the government was union busting. President Ronald Reagan claimed that by walking off the job, the air traffic controllers had quit their jobs. Secretary of Transportation Drew Lewis said, "To all intents and purposes, the strike is over. Our concern is to rebuild the system."

With the recommendation of Secretary Lewis, President Ronald Reagan fired all those individuals who had gone on strike. Reagan and others reasoned that they did not have the right to strike because they would endanger the lives of countless air travelers. The positions were quickly occupied with new workers with consequent labor conflict throughout the country. In October, the organization was decertified and dissolved amid the controversial air traffic controllers' strike in 1981. President Bill Clinton, by an executive order, lifted the ban on the hiring of PATCO controllers on August 12, 1993.

Presidents

1969-1970
James E. Hayes
1970-1980
John F. Leyden
1980-1982
Robert E. Poli
1982
Gary W. Eads

Executive Vice Presidents

1972-1980
Robert E. Poli
1980-1982
Robert E. Meyers
1982
Domenic Torchia

Extent

30.44 Linear Feet (in 73 boxes)

Abstract

The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) was formed in 1968 to represent the interests of federally employed air traffic controllers and was dissolved in 1981, after a strike against the United States government resulted in all PATCO members being fired from their Federal Aviation Administration jobs. This finding aid (number 7 of 18) describes Series VII, Membership Files, 1971-1981 (20 linear feet of records in 73 boxes), from the the administrative office in Washington, D.C.

Organization of the Records

This finding aid describes Series VII: Membership files. The Membership files make up part of the larger PATCO records which are divided into 18 series (each with its own finding aid).

Location

Collecton is stored offsite. Contact archivist in advance to view these materials; 24-hour notice is required.

Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization records

The PATCO records are divided into 18 series, each with its own finding aid, for ease of use and access.

Other Series

  1. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization records, President's files [L1986-45_01]
  2. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization records, Executive Vice President's files [L1986-45_02]
  3. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization records, Regional Vice President's files [L1986-45_03]
  4. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization records, Director's files [L1986-45_04]
  5. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization records, Strike Files [L1986-45_05]
  6. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization records, Central Office Files [L1986-45_06]
  7. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization records, Financial records [L1986-45_08]
  8. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization records, Conventions [L1986-45_09]
  9. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization records, Arbitration and Grievances [L1986-45_10]
  10. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization records, Region and Locals [L1986-45_11]
  11. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization records, Accident files [L1986-45_12]
  12. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization records, Safety and Health files [L1986-45_13]
  13. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization records, Public Relations and Newsclippings [L1986-45_14]
  14. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization records, Publications [L1986-45_15]
  15. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization records, Legislative files [L1986-45_16]
  16. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization records, Subject files [L1986-45_17]
  17. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization records, Legal files {L1986-45_18]

Custodial History

Following PATCO's bankruptcy declaration in 1982, a court-appointed trustee took custody of its records. In 1985, the bankruptcy trustee authorized the records' transfer to PATCO Local 159 for historical preservation. Terrence A. Shannon of Local 159, in consultation with the Southern Labor Archives, retrieved approximately 1000 cubic feet of records from storage in Washington, D.C.

Acquisition Information

Records donated by Terrence A. Shannon of PATCO, Local 159 (Savannah, Ga.), 1986.

Digitized Copies Available

This series is one of nine series that have been digitized in full and are available in the GSU Library's digital collections (http://digitalcollections.library.gsu.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/PATCO)

Related Archival Materials

Related Materials in Other Repositories

  1. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) Records, 1970-1981 (2009-77). Special Collections, University of Texas at Arlington Library.
  2. PATCO Records for the Southwest Region, 1968-1986 (AR291). Special Collections, University of Texas at Arlington Library.
  3. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) Records, Local 332, Kansas City, Missouri, 1971-1987 (AR397). Special Collections, University of Texas at Arlington Library.
  4. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization Records, Local 601, Anchorage, Alaska, 1968-1988 (AR389). Special Collections, University of Texas at Arlington Library.
  5. Arthur B. Shostak Collection, 1974-1992 (AR374). Special Collections, University of Texas at Arlington Library.
  6. George Brandon Papers, 1968-1982 (AR293). Special Collections, University of Texas at Arlington Library.

Processing Information

Following the acquisition of the PATCO records in 1986, Southern Labor Archives staff created an organizational scheme and identified a large portion of the records for deaccession. In 2001, Series I through IV were processed by Pam Hackbart-Dean and Annie L. Tilden. Series I-IV electronic finding aid created by Morna Gerrard, September 2002; revised by William Hardesty, February 2006.

In 2008-09, Series V through XVIII were processed by Harold V. Hansen, Jr. and George Rounds according to a revised organization. More material was deaccessioned or transferred to print collections during the completion of the project. Series V-XVII electronic finding aids created by Traci JoLeigh Drummond, February 2010; EAD revised by Harold Victor Hansen, Jr., 2016.
Title
Records of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization at Georgia State University:
Subtitle
A Guide to the PATCO Records, Series VII: Membership Files
Status
Completed
Author
Georgia State University Library
Date
February 2010
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Contact:
100 Decatur St., S.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
404-413-2880
404-413-2881 (Fax)