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Fast History: In Epic Firing, Reagan Cans 11,000 Striking Air Traffic Controllers, 1981

While the economy has stirred layoff fears across the globe, nothing in recent memory compares to this day 28 years ago, when President Ronald Reagan axed 11,359 striking air traffic controllers in one day. After crippling commercial traffic with a walkout two days prior, the strikers found themselves packing their bags when neither the FAA or the Gipper blinked. Today, air traffic controllers aren’t much better off; less-than-enviable pay, long hours and technologies unchanged since World War II define the system, though the powers that be are finally catching up. GPS-enabled flight tracking currently under consideration would allow planes to fly more direct routes between airports, enhance airport capacity and, in theory, cut down on delays. We’ll believe it when we see it.

August 5
Reagan Fires 11,000 Striking Air Traffic Controllers

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