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View Diary: First diary: A cautionary tale - 30 years ago today... (98 comments)

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  •  Late to the party—Class of ’81 (0+ / 0-)

    I wish I had seen this diary at an appropriate time. I have commented on many diaries relating to ATC because, as you can see by my sig, I were one.

    I am in a class so small it almost certainly is fewer than four figures in size. I went out on the 3rd, appealed my case (as we all did), and actually won because management at ZAU were idiots. So, in May of '83, I was reinstated.

    I served out my time and retired in '97 with almost 30 years. I say that to perhaps answer your question of how you might have done if you'd gotten back. I can tell you with painful certainty that it all depends on how long you were out before being reinstated. Most of my friends who were reinstated for one reason or another between November of '81 and when I got back recertified reasonably quickly and melted into the background with little difficulty.

    I had a bullseye on my back and 20 months on the street and I had a little trouble getting back in the groove. I was also one of the last reinstatements.

    Years later, in the '90s, when they started rehiring a little bit when Clinton lifted the prohibition, I saw quite a few of my old friends return. It turned out to be about 50/50 whether one was able to recertify or not. My one friend, rehired just after I left, so about 16 years after the fact, never did fully certify, but they kept him hidden and let him serve out his time to retirement.

    That's much like we did in the old days when long time journeyman controllers couldn't make the transition from ANC to radar operations were carried until retirement as "one-armers"—D-side only. However, although I knew and worked with a handful of those guys, that kind of process was never initiated in all of my time. My friend was lucky.

    A lot of people do not get that we weren't wild eyed idiots out for our own pocketbooks. The most telling thing that few outside the biz know is that less than five years after the strike, the honeymoon was over and management had screwed it up so badly that the remaining and new controllers had to form a new union. It doesn't matter how powerful it was or what its success might be (not very and relatively little)—the fact that one was needed tells it all.

    Oh, and one other thing—although it's true that we were once heavily ex-military, that was no longer the case after '81. I'd estimate (limited sample of ZAU only) no more than 20% of the complement had military experience.

    •  thanks for the update (0+ / 0-)

      I had the opportunity to dodge the phone call cancelling all leave just before the strike. Coincidentally, I had put in for that time off a long time before I knew the strike date.

      I didn't figure it would look that good for a facility rep to dodge the firing in that way, so I took the phone call, had my leave cancelled and then didn't show up and got fired. Never tried to go back because I was fairly certain they would never let a facility rep back in.

      And I had already made up my mind that I wasn't going to work under those conditions any longer...

      I don't blame you for going back in. Several guys from my facility tried to and I wished them luck. After the point had been made and the point was obliterated, it didn't make any difference what anybody did.

      Glad you were able to make it through.

      •  Here's the hilarious part… (0+ / 0-)

        I was the area rep when we were looking at the 22 June date (the night we didn't have enough of the head count to go). In the weeks leading up to that, I sat in as the rep on every briefing each Team Sup was giving every member who had scheduled leave for the 22 June date. Shortly after that we had area rep elections in the facility and someone else won my seat.

        When we didn't go on the 22nd and then reset the date for 3 Aug (pending the count) management neglected to brief the new and different crop of members who were scheduled for leave for the 3 Aug date. Guess who was scheduled for such leave?

        That failure to inform was the basis on which I and maybe two dozen brothers at ZAU won our cases.

        I was also a rep for many of the members in their initial "hearings" as part of the appeals process. During one of those, my member inadvertently carried out the logs that management was using to "prove" the person hadn't been on duty. The logs were riddled with obvious forgeries. We got them out of there, tout de suite, and over to headquarters before anyone figured out they were gone.

        We were able to smack management around a bit with the forgeries—in fact the facility chief ultimately lost his position over it. Pity we won so few on our side.

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