The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) Records Digitization Project is underway at Georgia State University Library. Series V: Strike Files has been added to GSU’s Digital Collections and will be available for public research in the fall. This series contains a wide variety of records including correspondence, press clippings and legal documents. Most importantly, the Strike Files contain detailed information about PATCO’s strike plans such as photographs and descriptions on what to do if arrested. It shows the dedication of not only PATCO members, but other labor unions, as well, who joined in the fight for better wages and shorter hours for the air traffic controllers.
The Strike Files also contain countless examples of criticism for PATCO’s cause. The late 1970s and early 1980s was an era when disgruntled citizens felt strongly enough to send letters and other correspondence to PATCO headquarters in Washington, D.C. These letters are often hate mail at best, proving just how scandalous and heated the labor union’s strike became. Other letters simply state their disappointment in the union’s cause and their support of President Reagan. The Strike Files are full of evidence for either side of the argument and proof that this event was crucial not only in labor history, but in everyday citizens’ lives.
Though disbanded by President Reagan in 1981, PATCO reformed as an independent certified labor union in 2004. They are still active today and hold annual conferences. This year, our Southern Labor Archivist Traci Drummond presented at their 30th Anniversary Convention in Hollywood, Florida.
This digitization project was made possible by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.