Professional Air Traffic Controller (PATCO) union members picket at DFW Airport, 1981
After seven months of negotiations with the federal goverment, members of the Professional Air Traffic Controlers (PATCO) union went on strike on August 3, 1981. President Reagan, a former union president himself, argued that government workers differed from labor-magementent relations in the private sector because they had a duty to provide uninterrupted "protective services which are goverment's reason for being." He fired PATCO strikers when they did not return to work within forty-eight hours, and a federal judge ordered PATCO to pay restitution.
PATCO strike – air traffic controllers picket outside fence at DFW Airport near FAA tower, August 5, 1981. Photograph AR406-6 #7525. Fort Worth Star-Telegram Collection, Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Library.