[private] The date was August 3, 1981 and on that day after many months of stalled contract negotiations between PATCO (Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization) and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) 13,000 members of PATCO went on strike. This labor union strike has preserved a place in labor union history by the unorthodox way the federal government handled it. The then president Ronald Reagan declared the PATCO strike as a “peril to national safety” and ordered the air traffic controllers back to work.
Mr. Reagan then reminded the union that the strike was an illegal act in accordance to a 1955 law that banned strikes by government employees and their unions. The president then issued an ultimatum stating that anyone who did not return to work in 48 hours would be fired. A few thousand took his words seriously and return to their jobs, but about eleven thousand defied the president’s orders and did not report to work, these were promptly terminated. Not only did Mr. Reagan fire the strikers, but he banned then from ever being rehired by the FAA.
This case set a precedence that had never been seen before because this was not the first time that government employees had gone on strike but it was the first time that such drastic action had been taking against any union by any government official. PATCO was decertified a couple of months later. The ban on rehiring was ended by President Clinton in august of 1993 but to this date only 850 of the original strikers has been rehired. There is a lesson here and President Porfirio Lobo should take notice, because the teachers has taken to the streets again this year blocking bridges and roads causing a general uproar among the populace that work for a living.
It appears that the children of Honduras will again be denied the full 200 school days as stipulated by law. Mr. Regan on the other hand had to search around for administrative personnel and even used military controller to get the air transportation industry over the crisis produced by the air controllers strike.
Mister Lobo will not have to resort to hiring personnel that are not trained as teachers because this country is loaded with unemployed teachers. Just last week there were upwards of 1,500 applicants to the yearly contest looking for teaching jobs and they were all notified in advance that there were zero vacancies, but 1,500 did the exams anyhow.
While the teachers may have legitimate grievances, but the way they go about getting attention harms the whole country and their rights to call an “informative assembly” should never interfere with the right of others to move about freely in their daily affairs. They should select two teachers from every school that feel the need to protest some wrong done to them by the government; these two teachers should go to the capital where all their many organizations and all of the upper echelons of the government permanently maintain offices. Blocking bridges and streets when people are trying to get to work does in no way ingratiate the teachers with the general population who already carries a resentment against them for all the empty school houses that they leave behind when they take to the streets.