Monday, July 30, 2012

Mike Rock Tells the Story of PATCO's Origins

This week will mark the 31st anniversary of the 1981 air traffic controllers' strike.  With that in mind, I thought it would be a good time to post an interesting bit of historical memorabilia.   This is a video of PATCO co-founder Mike Rock taken on January 10, 1979, as he told the story of the origins of the air traffic controllers' union, recounting the working conditions controllers faced in the 1960s and the long struggle that led them to decide to form their own organization.  The film was made at the AFL-CIO's training center in Silver Spring, Maryland, as Rock spoke to PATCO activists who were beginning the union's preparations for the 1981 contract expiration.  The quality of the video isn't the greatest.  It was preserved and copied several times by Mike's friend, and PATCO legend Jack Maher (who passes briefly across the screen in the videos opening moment).  But Jack gave it to me with the hope that it would help explain why he and Mike and their colleagues began organizing in the first place.  This is the opening excerpt of a several hours worth of history that Rock shared with his PATCO colleagues in 1979.  I cut off this segment just before Rock recounted PATCO's founding.  I'll be posting more of the Rock lectures once I edit them.  Enjoy:


  1. Joe,

    Thanks for posting this video. At one time, just prior to Mike's passing, there were many of us that searched for this tape which I felt belonged with the PATCO archives in Atlanta at Georgia State University. From the floor of the 1980 convention in Las Vegas I made a proposal that two additional copies be made for Jack & Mike. The proposal was unanimously passed without debate. It is my fondest wish that a copy of this be sent to the library in Atlanta so future generations can see the human aspect of PATCO's history.

  2. Joe,

    Your book and interest to our struggle is greatly appreciated. This is a history that needed to be told. What happened to PATCO is an important part of American history and the history of the labor movement in this country. I was the Local 501 (Denver ARTCC) Vice-President and to this day take great pride in having been part of PATCO. It was a distinct honor to have known Mike Rock, Jack Maher, Rex and Charley Campbell, Domenic Torchia, John Leydon, Bob Poli, Gary Eads and so many others.

    Mike Violette