Air Traffic Controller
Air-traffic controllers work with pilots and ground crews to coordinate the movement of passenger, cargo, and military aircraft for safety and efficiency.
Photograph by Steve Raymer
Save to My Library
On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired 11,000 air-traffic controllers. More than 12,000 members of the air-traffic controllers union had gone on strike two days earlier, in a last-ditch effort to negotiate for better pay and benefits. Reagan immediately deemed the strike illegal, fired the workers, and imposed a lifetime ban on rehiring any of them.
This was a powerful defeat for organized labor. Employers began to openly discourage collective bargaining and the formation of unions, not just the goals and concessions sought by those unions. The FAA had hired replacement workers for the striking air-traffic controllers, a move that encouraged other businesses to hire replacement workers and reduced the power of the strike as an effective bargaining tactic for labor. In 1981, more than 20% of employed workers belonged to unions. Today, that number has dropped to 11%.
person who monitors the position, speed, and direction of different aircraft to ensure safe and efficient air travel.
to prohibit, or not allow.
to overcome an enemy or obstacle.
to disapprove or encourage someone not to do something.
useful or able to perform a task.
at once or quickly.
to discuss with others of different viewpoints in order to reach an agreement, contract, or treaty.
situation of people refusing to work in order to call attention to their working conditions.
procedure or method for accomplishing a goal.
group of people or countries that work together for a common goal or set of goals.