Cover image for Silent skies : the air traffic controllers' strike
Silent skies : the air traffic controllers' strike
Nordlund, Willis J.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn : Praeger, 1998.
Physical Description:
viii, 212 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library HD5325.A4252 1981 C486 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This is the story of power and the abuse of power that led to the demise of a major federal union and the firing of over 11,000 federal employees. The Professional Air Traffic Controller's Organization (PATCO) misjudged the political sentiment of the nation, the willingness of the Reagan Administration to implement its social and economic agenda, and the ability of the union to achieve its goals through work stoppages.

The events of 1981, chronicled in this story, severely undermined the union movement and set the stage for labor-management relations in the public sector for the subsequent two decades. Equally important, issues that lead to the PATCO strike were not addressed by the FAA or the Department of Transportation, and many of the same problems still plague the federal system today. While the PATCO debacle and its aftermath are now reasonably clear, what is unclear is whether the union and government leaders learned from the event.

Author Notes

WILLIS J. NORDLUND is Dean of the School of Business at the College of West Virginia. He is former Regional Director of the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, U.S. Department of Labor, and served as Special Assistant and Executive Assistant to the Under Secretary of Labor between 1977 and 1980. He is the author of The Quest for a Living Wage (Greenwood, 1997) as well as numerous professional articles. He is also a multi-engine, instrument-rated pilot.

Table of Contents

The Line in the Sand The Air Traffic Control System Air Traffic Controllers and Their Unions Escalation of Animosity The Skies Will Be Silent Bring the Nation to Its Knees Slamming the Door on PATCO The Chicago Debacle The Air Traffic Control System in the 1980s and 1990s Summary
Lessons, and Conclusions

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