Thought of the PATCO Strike Lately?
by Michael Fox
Although of importance to some controllers ultimately rehired, today's opinion, Harris v. Federal Aviation Administration (D.C. Cir. 1/13/04) [pdf] served as more of a reminder how much time has passed since one of more dramatic moments in modern day labor history. On August 3, 1981 after long negotiations broke down, the air traffic controllers went on strike and then President Ronald Reagan gave them 48 hours to return or be fired. Almost 11,000 didn't and true to his word, were fired and banned from ever being rehired.
The ban was ultimately lifted 12 years later, but even then restrictions were placed on the level into which they could be re-hired. Today's decision affirmed a trial court ruling that litigation challenging the restriction on the level at which they could be re-hired as arbitrary was untimely brought. Perhaps, the last legal chapter on the PATCO matter, but somehow I doubt it.