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View Diary: First diary: A cautionary tale - 30 years ago today... (98 comments)

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  •  I was a PATCO striker, (10+ / 0-)

    facility rep at a tower in Southern California.

    We spent the night of the 2nd/morning of the 3rd in a Teamsters union hall at LAX that no longer exists. Everybody from all over So. Cal. was there. Electric for awhile then very tired waiting all night while the strike vote was counted. Met a nice lady that night.

    Then some of us went over to the offices of the Continental Flight Attendants union where we camped out for months and they were infinitely kind to us. Only to go through it themselves shortly after and see strikers and their union be decimated.

    It was a strike for 2 days. The first morning was Reagan in the Rose Garden live on the morning shows telling us we had 2 days to get back. Then it was a lockout. The deck was stacked against us getting our story out there (sound familiar?). The administration successfully repeated until the public was numb that we were overpaid and were greedy and there was no more stress to the job than a bus driver's. Now I think bus drivers have a damn stressful job but the administration somehow trivialized it and of course never spoke of working the varying shifts as hillbrook does above.

    We spoke to union groups from Teamsters and Machinists to teachers. I myself got to meet Jerry Brown and take a bow at a huge meeting of the United Teachers of Los Angeles at the Biltmore hotel. Very exciting for awhile.

    Then it became an issue of survival. Everybody cut back. Cashed in civil service retirement. Some of us were lucky and got to work with the Longshoreman's union at LA and Long Beach harbors for a few months doing everything from unloading boxes of bananas to driving cars off ships from Japan. They were very kind and we owe them our gratitude. But we were in the same boat in a few months.  

    We were worn down, beaten. Any court action met with failure. A very few got their jobs back at civil service appeal. But most of the 11,500 that walked out never went back.

    In 1993 President Clinton lifted the ban on our rehiring. but only a few ever got rehired. There's a scandal there, too, with action in courts and mediation, but forgive me for being skeptical that anything will ever come of it.

    And we all get older and have gone our separate ways. I wonder if I would have survived the job for the long haul, I would have retired after 30 years in the last couple of years. Would I have been a drinker? Would I have stayed a smoker and not quit? Back then you might have a cigarette in one hand and the microphone push to talk switch in the other. I'm not retired on a good pension, but maybe it is for the best.

    •  Thanks for the addition to the tale (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hazey, Mathazar, worldlotus

      There are about 11,500 stories out there, that's the important thing to remember. 11,500 people stood up for something they believed in and got smacked around.

      The Flight Attendants Union was very supportive at the time, I agree. In Omaha, where I worked, we received a significant amount of support from the more traditional unions as well.

      The Airline Pilots were no help at all. They really looked down their nose at us, I think because airline pilots at the time were making 3-4 times as much as controllers.

      Funny thing is that now, from what I can tell, typical big plane pilots make about the same money as controllers working at the largest and busiest facilities.

      I guess what goes around... comes around.

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