As the late Senator Paul Wellstone liked to say, "We may be entitled
to our own opinions, but we're not entitled to our own facts." Even
with organized labor's many problems (shrinking membership, internal
dissension, gutless Democrats, growing irrelevancy, etc.), there's no
disputing the facts.
Fact: Across the board, union jobs pay more (10-15% more), offer
better health and medical benefits, and provide workers greater on-the-
job security and influence than non-union jobs. Fact: Union facilities
are demonstrably safer than non-union facilities; statistically, the
numbers aren't even close. Fact: If unions didn't represent a threat
to management's greed and unchecked authority, they wouldn't be so
vehemently opposed by businesses and business lobbies.
All of which raises the question: Given the post-Reagan assault on the
earning power and dignity of blue-collar jobs, why aren't more people
signing union cards? Why haven't the marginal and disenfranchised in
the workforce wised up? Union membership used to hover at close to
35%; today it's barely 12%. Worse, if only private industry were
counted, it's less than 7%. Better money, richer benefits, safer
environment, more control . . . what's not to like?
As a member of the Class of '81 (Reagan's first victim) I couldn't
agree more, but the one big problem is that only one side of the
equation wants to play fair any more. Collective bargaining? No, it's,
"don't like it here, we'll hire someone else." There is no loyalty
left in corporate America any longer.
The union haters will be dumping all over this thread in a heartbeat.
I've never understood how a working person wouldn't be in favor of a
union, just as I've never understood how a black person or gay person
could be a rethuglican. Doesn't make sense. It's like a chicken
belonging to the fox club.
I'm sure there'll be some old wreck acquaintances putting me on their
shit list, now. I don't believe I've ever publicly discussed where I
was in '81 before.
Same here in the UK, Thatcher set about smashing the union's, using the
police (and secret services) as her shock troops. Now the police, who by
law may not strike, are upset that they're pay rise will be like
everyone elses, paid in stages, after years of huge rises and overtime
that started with Thatchers union bashing, THEY want the right to
strike! The UK Police Federation (their body which is NOT a Union) is
funded by their employer, the gov't, so how long before the rug gets
pulled from under them too...
I was in the power industry when Thatcher (Reagan's soulmate accross the
pond) came to power, one of the first things she did was start the
process to sell off the power industry, cue staffing freeze, loss by
natural wastage, early retirements and trainee's (like me, apprentices)
not taken on at the end of training, finally by redundancy.
I've been a union member ever since, most of the time it just costs with
little benefit as our anti-union laws and union busting advice, often
from the US, has reduced their positive effects, but every once in a
while it pays off. I'm now a union workplace rep. specialising in Health
and Safety, most of the time is spent reminding my employer of their
LEGAL duties, and fighting the chinese attitude to other peoples safety!
Are you referring to the Air Traffic Controllers? The ones that were
forbidden by federal law from going on strike? But did anyway? But somehow
it was Reagan who was the bad guy when he didn't cave to an illegal act but
fired those who were illegally striking?
Don't disagree with that sentiment either. However, the labor union
stance that pretty much says everybody gets paid the same based only upon
how long they have been around doesn't do much to help efficiency or the
ability to compete in a world market. It also doesn't encourage anybody to
work hard or excel either. Why should a union member ever try to do any
more than any of their co-workers? There is no opportunity for advancement
through that route.
Getting a union grievance for picking up a scope probe to measure a
voltage on a down piece of equipment, for picking up a box of documents
that one has finished sorting through in order to make room for the next
box. Having to wait 1/2 a day for transportation to get around to moving a
computer from one cubicle to another in order to avoid having a grievance
filed. The only raise one gets is for having been at the same place for
another year, knowing that you are more capable than the guy working next
to you, but he makes the same because you are both working under the same
collective bargaining agreement. What's to like?
Yep, voting for the Dems for over 40 years as a solid block has really
done the black community a world of good hasn't it? What is the rate of
unwed mothers in the dependency-class enclaves created by Democrat
policies? How have their lives been improved? Yep, it's done them a
world of good.
If you're going to be dumb, you better be tough
On Thu, 13 Dec 2007 18:21:12 -0700, Mark & Juanita
Just the response I expected.
Everything's negotiable. See USPS Strike 1970. Just as "illegal" but
amicably resolved by good faith negotiations. Reagan promised support
for the controllers in exchange for the union's endorsement. We did,
he didn't. Yeah, I blame him. He was the one instructing Drew Lewis
and company to "not give an inch."
But you weren't there, so you don't know.
But they should have been. All these people serve public
safety and/or the interests of our children. They are
granted a virtual monopoly to do so by government and
are paid with all of our tax money. Part of the deal
when they signed up was an agreement to never strike -
or at least that was the deal with the ATC folk - precisely
because their work is so integral to the safety of the nation.
They joined up voluntarily, and signed their contracts as
adults, making that promise to never strike without coercion
or other force. Then they go back and their word (i.e. lie)
and you *defend* this? I've heard screeching about far less
here on the 'wreck because someone felt ripped off over a
tool or a discount that wasn't honored at some store. Why
aren't public servants to be held to the same standard?
Either everyone must keep their word or no one has to...
Tim Daneliuk email@example.com
On Fri, 14 Dec 2007 20:20:30 -0600, Tim Daneliuk
Oh, if only life were so simple. First of all, I have yet to find any
government employee with more than about two years on the job who even
remembers such a document. When you get hired (anywhere) you are
virtually overwhelmed with documents, orientations, procedures,
chain-of-command, etc., and that doesn't even count the actual OJT.
But that's not even the important part. Implicit in that "agreement"
was that you would be treated as a professional, you would benefit
from professional leadership, and that you would enjoy the respect and
loyalty of the institution in return for your own.
I have thousands of examples personally experienced by me and
multiplied by the tens of thousands of fellow controllers with whom I
worked over the years of violations of the most egregious sort by the
agency of those committments.
It's easy to sit back and prosletyze about what *should* be done when
you' haven't the benefit of the experience. I was there. I know what
happened, and I knew what needed to be done. Do you honestly think for
a second that over 13,000 people not only went out the door but
refused to return just on a whim?
There were serious issues that directly related to our well being that
were not being addressed. You probably think it was about money, don't
you? If you'd been there, you'd know diifferent.
I never cease to be amused when someone says something like this,
particularly when reagan is somehow involved. How many wives did he
have? Wasn't he president of SAG? Didn't he promise to work for
controllers' issues when elected? Then let's start on his presidency.
Weren't we supposed to stay out of Nicaragua? It goes on and on.
Ummm, not really. Your word has nothing to do with the other person's
integrity. If you don't trust/respect/value them, don't give them
your word in the first place.
It appears that you are saying that if someone doesn't keep their word
you don't have to keep yours. Is that right? On the face of it, that
seems like common sense, but it's a little different when you start
dragging in someone's personal choices - things like marriage/divorce
and where they used to work - and other things that had nothing
whatsoever to do with your particular grievance.
A bargain is a bargain, but your word is your word. There will always
be other bargains, you have only one word. It's not about the other
guy and their faults - it's about you and your integrity in the face
of someone else's lack of it, no?
And to cheer up Charlie Self, I'll draw a woodworking analogy. Do you
cut corners on the interior of your cabinet because nobody will see
it, or do you do the best work you feel you can do whether anyone sees
it or not?
Good work isn't wasteful. The best work you can do requires you to be
thrifty. That's why God invented poplar for furniture frames and the
guts of projects. And that's why I have one US regulation shitload of
offcuts awaiting their turn in the limelight...on the interior of
something or other.
ME likewise. But I'm overrun with a similar shitload. It's a first
cousin to your shitload. And my shitload has a life of it's own; it grows
and breeds other shitloads.
"One day I'll use that for something," Dave said as he contemplated the
piece of scrap, "and it'll save me a trip to the lumber store." Then he
tossed it onto the shitload bin which long ago had overflowed its box and
was slowly spreading across the floor in the rear of the shop.
Worked for a company that had a company policy as follows:
Every year in December, you had to go thru your files and throw anything
away more than 2 years old.
It was a policy developed by the lawyers.
"If you don't have it, they can't use it against you was the logic.
Yeah, great until you get a phone call asking for why 0.125 steel was
chosen for such and such a part and whether it would be possible, based
upon previous trade studies whether substituting 0.130 aluminum would work
in order to meet weight specifications. But, you, as the designer were
forced to throw out those files 6 months ago. End result -- the trade
studies get to be redone.
If you're going to be dumb, you better be tough
Engineering studies are cheaper than lawsuits; however, engineering
documents were exempt.
Last time I check, engineers don't bill out at $500/hr + expenses<G>.
Only commercial documents were involved.
The joint I work for has a huge document detailing 1, 5, and 7 year
retention schedules. We have to take yearly training on document
They've gone so far as to create 1, 5, and 7, year automatic email
"vaults" for electronic documentation.
I was there. Leesburg, Nashua. It was about more controllers, fewer hours
and more money. Most controllers I spoke with, before they went out, wanted
more money and fewer hours. Controllers made a pretty decent living. I was
with IBM at the time and made a bit (quite) less. Most of them (the ATCs
that I dealt with or knew) thought they had the Country by the balls
because they could totally shut down all air traffic in the USA. Even
though they felt that way, they really didn't want to strike. The few that
mentioned or spoke to me about striking being illegal, didn't think it was
anything inportant because teachers, garbage collectors etc. had been
getting away with it for years. Again, this is my experience with the ATC's
I worked or dealt with on a daily basis. That strike was about money. Cloak
it in all the nice words you want.
Sat at the Holiday Inn bar in Nashua NH after President Reagan fired the
ATC's listening to them saying "he can't be serious", "a big bluff", etc.
I guess they pissed him off. I don't know which side was right. Some of the
people I know went back and others didn't have the option.
I KNOW ONE TRUTH. When you think you have become indispensible, you are in
the most danger of becoming dispensible.
Well, you can't discount money as an issue no matter what the other
issues are, because most of them will boil down to more money.
However, I can tell you that the "$10K" that was so widely touted by
the FAA in their disinformation campaign as the chief negotiating
point was a "throw-away" that none of us who were politically aware
had a realistic expectation of getting. More important to us was a 32
hour workweek (as several European countries with far les traffic than
even our second tier facilities enjoyed).
And you can dismiss it thinking money was truly the point, but we were
pretty tired of getting short shrift on staffing, equipment, and
support in general. When I left in 1997 there were still racks of
equipment in the basement being used with a label stating "property of
CAA." The CAA was replaced by the FAA(gency) the predecessor of the
FAA(dministration) by the Federal Aviation Act of 1958. They used
The FAA is the only organization I know of in which minimum staffing
and maximum staffing is the same number. The long standing truth in
the FAA (I speak solely for the Air Traffic Division) was that if you
needed an ad hoc day off on short notice (namely once the schedule was
posted), there was no point in asking for annual leave (vacation
time), it was virtually never approved because the schedule was made
to minimum staffing numbers. Even supervisors would tell you to take
When you have a business that operates 24/7/365 it's difficult enough
to try to make family events such as school plays, soccer games, or
recitals with regular shift assignments, but when a last minute
request for your presence for a teacher meeting, or when your
son/daughter gets promoted to the varsity mid season and is starting
tomorrow's game, your stuck. Other businesses have room to accomodate
such exigencies, but not when you're constantly at minimum staffing.
Working traffic for 40 hours per week was not back breaking, but it
certainly took a toll on the vast majority of controllers. This is not
a profession you can work at until you're 60. I retired when I was 51
(after 30 years) and I'd just about had enough. There were no new
people in the pipeline, no relief in sight for the continued increase
in traffic, and the airlines had sandbagged the FAA into the so called
"free flight" protocol, which was in direct conflict with the sector
balancing our traffic management programs had tried so hard to
implement when I was a flow controller in the late '80s.
Factor in Reduced Vertical Separation Minima, effectively doubling the
number of airplanes in a sector above FL290 (29,000 feet), along with
the reduced staffing and it's no wonder people are bailing left and
right. They'd be leaving even if there wasn't a statutory retirement
after 25 years (I was exempt because of my hire date--pre-1973--I
could have legally continued as long as I wanted).
We did okay. But in 1981 we were making (in Chicago, and I was a
senior guy) about $45K. The $10k we were asking? By 1983, after I was
reinstated, I was making that much more. Must not have been a problem
to come up with, huh?
Yes, we were a pretty cocky bunch. And don't think for a minute that
we didn't actually achieve that. The figures the FAA put out in the
months after August 3, were pure fiction. The airlines colluded in it
because they had their own ax to grind with the controllers. When I
came back to work in '83, I was shocked with who was in that buiilding
working airplanes. You do not want to know what dregs of "talent" they
used (much of it illegal) to hold the system together long enough to
get replacements in.
Absolutely correct. The phrase we used was, "the only illegal strike
is the one that isn't successfull."
Only in the context I laid out above. I was as militant as anyone, and
as I said, the $10K was a throwaway from the start. It was a lot more
than money, cloak it in all the money words you want. I really was
It was groundbreaking, that's for sure. We couldn't believe he'd
turned his back on us.
Although there were some true scabs who returned under the three day
(as I recall) warning period, after the dust had settled, there were
probably fewer than a couple hundred nationwide who ultimately won
their cases (we all appealed our firings). I was one of about 40 in
Chicago, and we had the largest number, I believe. I was one of them.
It sure is easy to make that observation in hindsight and when you're
not in the middle of it. What's interesting is I am in touch with a
large number of fired controllers, and there are hardly any who don't
think they did the right thing. There are, however, very, very few (if
any) who would do it again, particularly if they had any idea how it
would turn out.
This is my last post on this subject. Unless there is another
controller here to talk about it, not one of you can possibly know the
true details of the experience and all that led to it and followed it.
For those who are bent on believing what they believe and which isn't
in concert with what I know and what I experienced, further rhetoric
will not illuminate. It's a pointless discussion.
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