There has recently been a tidal wave of Air Traffic Controllers falling asleep on the job, during late night shifts, when often staying awake presents the single most daunting challenge they’ll face all shift.
Needless to say every one is VERY CONCERNED. They are busily harumphing, talking about responsibility, and accountability, and their “watch”, and all the usual things that they talk about whenever something big enough, and bad enough happens long enough to enter into the little bit of the American people‘s brainspace not taken over by obsession with what celebrity has a sex tape “leaked” this week, or who is going to win on American Idol.
Some are even actually talking about the underlying cause. Namely that the over night shifts are understaffed (all too often by only one person), and that there are not nearly enough air traffic controllers to go around.
But it seems that almost no one, (and certainly not the main stream media) has the guts to stand up and speak the truth about where the real root of many of these problems lay.
To put it simply, it’s Ronald Reagan’s fault.In August of 1981, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization declared a strike, seeking things like better working conditions, and a shorter work week.
That’s right the air traffic controllers wanted to work LESS. Because they knew even back then that there was entirely too much risk of an overly tired controller falling asleep.
So Reagan simply ordered the controllers back to work and those that did not comply were fired and blacklisted from Federal jobs in the future.
PATCO was destroyed, and a new, neutered union was born, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
I would imagine that the situation for NATCA is a bit like being Henry the Eighths second wife. I’m sure they have done the best they can to look after their members best interests, but when almost all of the power and leverage is on the side of the FAA, and the airlines and airports such as the ability to summarily implement changes regardless of whether there is any challenge from the union, it means that they are really there more for the illusion of advocating for the Controllers than for the reality of it.
Meanwhile, you have the entire aviation industry being guided by profit motivation above any other, including or perhaps especially safety.
And what happens when these misguided motivations result in mishaps like the recent spate of sleeping controllers? Why spin doctoring and blame placing of course. The head of the FAA going on Fox news and offering no defense while the shows host insinuates that the problem is the Union.
There will be fevered hunts for the cause of the problem for a bit. Until a new problem comes along. All the while the facts will not have changed.
Ronald Reagan destroyed Unions in this country. It’s just that simple.
And today, the Wrong Wing is proudly trying to finish what he started, making it so that there is simply no such thing as a Union, in any meaningful sense. Making it impossible to form or join one.
If they have their way, there will come a day when there is no one speaking up for the workers. A day when no matter what the job, no matter how important it might be, we will be presented with the only choice our self-appointed Corporate Masters wish us to have. Namely, Like It, or Lump It.
Keep The Faith My Brothers And Sisters!
The following resources were used in the creation of this article:
From DickMeister.com: Ronald Reagan’s War on Labor
From PoliticusUSA: Fox News Twists Sleeping Air Traffic Controllers Into An Attack On Unions
From NATCA.com: NATCA Statement on Safe Staffing for Air Traffic Control Shifts
From Politicol News: FAA Air Traffic-Roy LaHood Asleep on the Job