Labor leaders told a House committee yesterday that President Reagan's refusal to reinstate fired air traffic controllers is putting thousands of other airline employes out of work.
Machinists, flight attendants and workers in related businesses are losing jobs because airlines have reduced operations to compensate for the loss of 11,438 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization dismissed for striking Aug. 3, the labor leaders said.
"The administration should recognize that . . . not only the objects of its wrath . . . have received an economic death sentence, but thousands of men and women whose only crime was that they happened to be employed in the air transport industry when the dispute arose," John F. Peterpaul, general vice president of the International Association of Machinists, told the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee.
Peterpaul said 3,200 IAM members employed by commercial carriers have been idled. The union has 88,000 members employed in the airline industry and another 175,000 working in the aerospace industry.
"Fewer flights generally result in fewer jobs for our members in the manufacture, construction, servicing, and staffing of aircraft," Peterpaul said, adding that loss of the 3,200 jobs "represents an annual paycheck loss of almost $89 million, and a tax loss to the government of some $18 million."
"The administration has waged an all-out war and has won the war. It should now win the peace with reason and tolerance," Peterpaul said.
PATCO President Robert Poli echoed those comments:
"Since the strike started, more than 25,000 airline employes have been laid off and many thousands more have been forced to accept pay cuts. While almost everyone has his own opinion as to who is at fault in the controllers' strike, surely these nonstriking employes who have lost their jobs are blameless."
Poli said he tried privately to reopen negotiations three weeks ago with Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis who, he said, seemed acquiescent but backed off on the advice of government lawyers.
A spokesman for Lewis acknowledged yesterday that Poli had sought "a secret meeting" with Lewis, who "told him that there are no such things as secret meetings."
"The secretary felt it would be inappropriate to meet with the leader of a union that he feels no longer has the right to represent its members," the spokesman said.
The Federal Labor Relations Authority is scheduled to rule today on whether PATCO has forfeited its right to represent air controllers.