REALLY BAD TIMING - The Air Traffic Controller's Strike of August 1981

Nobody really ever mentions this, but it has to be one of the worst cases of bad timing in American history.

In August 1981, the Air Traffic Controllers, the men and women who conduct the safety of planes arriving, departing and traveling throughout American airspace, decided to go on strike. Almost all of them walked off the job, disrupting the entire travel industry and were replaced by supervisors, management and military personnel.

They thought Americans would stand behind them and force the U.S. Government to give in to their demands. They were Federal employees.

Their timing was really bad and I will explain. The late 1960's saw a consciousness develop that the government and corporations had an obligation to do things "for the people." Those words even became a cliche. "Is it good for the people?" "This is for the people" and so on--it was heard everywhere. If something wasn't, "the people" could always come out and protest and march in the streets.

This zeitgeist (spirit of the times) lasted up until the mid-70's and then "the people" decided they were out for themselves, wanted to make money and personal, selfish greed became the in-thing again.

The Air Traffic Controllers and their union failed to realize that "the people" no longer existed. They actually thought "the people" would stand behind their strike, with massive 60s-style protests and revolutionary support.

*Here's what the Air Traffic Controllers demanded:

*They wanted a 32-hour work week made up of 4-eight hour days but wanted to be paid full time.

*They wanted a $10,000. per year raise per employee.
A minimum wage person in August 1981 made $7000. a year.
They were already making $20,000.--$50,000. each with generous sick, vacation, paid holidays and full retirement packages.

*They demanded that they should be able to retire after 20 years on the job with full salaried pensions and benefits.

The government actually offered them a significant pay increase, work hours reduction and other benefits. But it was not good enough for them and they turned it down. After all "the people" would be there to support them.

Unfortunately for them, "the people" no longer existed.
And they received no support at all from the public.

President Reagan then fired all 11,000 of them.

50,000 people applied for their jobs and replaced them.

I remember hearing them on the news saying that "the people"
would not stand for their horrible mistreatment by the
Federal government. A bit late on that reasoning.