Texas Archival Resources Online

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Descriptive Summary

Biographical Note

Scope and Contents

Organization

Restrictions

Index Terms

Related Material

Separated Material

Administrative Information

Note to the Researcher

Description of Series

Series I. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO), 1969-1993

Series II. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), 1962-1982

Series III. United States Air Traffic Controllers Organization (USATCO) 1983-1985

Series I. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO), 1981-1984, undated

University of Texas Arlington

James D. Wright Papers:

A Guide



Descriptive Summary

Creator: Wright, James D.
Title: James D. Wright Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1962-1993
Bulk Dates: 1970-1985
Abstract: James D. Wright was an air traffic controller and a member of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO). Wright entered the FAA Air Traffic Academy in 1962. After his graduation, Wright was assigned to the Houston ATC facility. In 1971, Wright was fired by the FAA for participating in a sick-out. One of only six individuals dismissed, Wright successfully fought the FAA action, and returned to his job in 1972 with full pay. Wright later became a recruiter for PATCO. By 1979, Wright was transferred to the Oakland Air Traffic control center. On August 3, 1981, Wright participated in the PATCO strike, an action that would cost him his job. Wright received retraining as an air machinist and went to work for United Airlines in 1985. He continued to support PATCO through letter writing and participating in PATCO reunions. He died in 1994. The collection includes correspondence, legal documents, newspapers clippings, newsletters, air traffic controllers work materials, and materials relating to both PATCO and USATCO. The bulk of the collection is correspondence, clippings, and documents relating to both the 1970 PATCO sick-out and the 1981 PATCO strike. The legal documents, 1981-1983, concerning the 1981 PATCO strike are extensive, and include decisions and orders stating where all cases were heard along with each parties’ representatives. Included also are Wright’s legal files from the PATCO sick-out, 1969-1971. The collection contains issues of PATCO Lives, 1985-1993, and USATCO, 1983-1984, as well as various issues of local PATCO newsletters and FAA World magazines, 1980-1981.
Identification: AR400
Extent: 7 boxes (4.55 linear ft.)
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Library

Biographical Note

James D. Wright was born on July 19, 1936. He was an air traffic controller and member of PATCO. He began his civil service career in the military. While serving in the Air Force, Wright was given the opportunity to become an air traffic controller. Wright entered the FAA Air Traffic Academy at the age of twenty-five in 1962. After his graduation, Wright was assigned to the Houston ATC facility. By 1979 Wright was transferred to the Oakland Air Traffic control center. On August 3, 1981, Wright participated in the PATCO strike, an action that would cost him his job. Before his death in 1994, Wright received retraining as an air machinist and worked with United Airlines beginning in 1985.

Wright was very active in PATCO. He joined PATCO in the late 60's and by 1970 was elected the Houston Facility Representative. In 1971 Wright was fired by the FAA for participating in a sick out. One of only six dismissed, Wright successfully fought the FAA action, returning to his job in 1972 with full pay. He was able to return to his job due to actions of his local congressmen and PATCO. Wright later became a recruiter for PATCO. His loyalty to the union left him no other alternative but to strike in 1981. Wright lost his job, and although he appealed to get his job back, he, like thousands of others, was permanently dismissed by the government for his actions.

Wright continued to support PATCO and was very active in trying to get former PATCO members their jobs back until his death in 1994 in Union City, CA. Wright participated in letter writing and in PATCO reunions.

Sources:

  • "PATCO Lives in the Jet Shop at United Airlines."Trade Winds, February 1992, 9. This article is included in the collection in Box 2, Folder 3.

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Scope and Contents

The James D. Wright Papers are contained in seven document boxes and one oversize box totaling 4.55 linear ft. There are three series consisting of 94 folders. In the oversize box there is one scrapbook, clothing and buttons. The clothing and buttons are representative of the items PATCO issued to its members and show the amount of loyalty that Wright had to the organization. The scrapbook is an excellent history from newspaper accounts of the events that followed the 1981 strike.

Series one consists of items that directly relate to James Wright and his association with PATCO. The items consist of correspondence, legal documents, legal updates, photographs, PATCO Lives newsletters, journal and newspaper articles, and material from PATCO. The items give a firsthand account of the legal struggles during and after both the 1970 sick out and the 1981 strike. Both actions cost Wright his job as an air traffic controller. All material is in excellent condition and is easy to read. The newspaper articles must be handled with care as the newsprint is showing signs of age and is becoming brittle.

Series two consists of items that directly relate to Wright and his association to the FAA. The items consist of ATC work related material, including accident reports, ATC manuals, maps, and quick reference cards. Also included are FAA World magazines, letters of commendation, Wright's personnel file and his FAA ATC academy folder from 1962. These materials give a firsthand account of the items used by ATC and some of the requirements of the job. The personnel file is an excellent resource into the history of one air traffic controller and the typical career path an ATC takes. Items in this series are in excellent condition. Some of the paper is very thin and must be handled with extreme care.

Series three consists of items that directly relate to James Wright and his association with USATCO. The items consist of correspondence from USATCO to Wright, including the letter informing Wright of the demise of USATCO. Also included in the series is a complete collection of the USATCO newsletter. These give the researcher a firsthand account of the history of USATCO. Items in this series are in excellent condition.

Those interested in a firsthand account of the PATCO 1970 sick out and especially the 1981 strike will find the collection interesting because of the amount of legal material, journal and newspaper articles, and correspondence between Wright and his lawyers. Both the PATCO Lives and the USATCO newsletters will also be helpful to researchers. Also the FAA series will provide excellent insight into what the typical air traffic controller used in his job. Finally, the personnel file for James Wright will also shed light on the promotion and pay schedule for ATC's during their career and the time period from 1962 to 1981.

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Organization

Series I. PATCO (Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization), 1969-1993. 3.083 linear ft. (63 folders)
Series II. FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), 1962-1982. 0.8 linear ft. (26 folders)
Series III. USATCO (United States Air Traffic Controllers Organization), 1983-1985. 0.267 linear ft. (5 folders)

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Restrictions

Access

Open for research.

Literary Rights Statement

Permission to publish, reproduce, distribute, or use by any and all other current or future developed methods or procedures must be obtained in writing from Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Library. All rights are reserved and retained regardless of current or future development or laws that may apply to fair use standards.

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Index Terms

These materials are indexed under the following headings in the catalog of The University of Texas at Arlington Library. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Persons
Wright, James D., 1936-1994--Archives.
Organizations
Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (Washington, D.C.)--Records and correspondence.
Subjects
Air traffic controllers--United States--Archives.
Air Traffic Controllers’ Strike, U.S., 1981.
Strikes and lockouts--Air traffic control--United States.
Air traffic controllers--Dismissal of.
Alternate Titles
Texas Labor Archives

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Related Material

AR291: PATCO Records for the Southwest Region (1968-1986)

AR294: PATCO Records for the DFW Tower Group (1971-1981)

AR302: PATCO Records (1968-1985)

AR397: PATCO Records for the Kansas City Air Route Traffic Control Center (1964-1982)

Unprocessed mss. 84-7: PATCO Records (1975-1984)

Unprocessed mss. 87-6 87-21: PATCO Records for the Southwest Region (1955-1986)

Unprocessed mss. 88-16: Audio Tapes (August 14, 1981)

Unprocessed mss. 88-19: Records (1975-1982)

Unprocessed mss. 88-23: Records (1976-1981)

Unprocessed mss. 88-24: PATCO Records for the Kansas City Air Route Traffic Control Center (1964-1982)

Unprocessed mss. 88-27: PATCO Records (1977-1981)

Unprocessed mss. 88-29: PATCO Records (1968-1987)

Unprocessed mss. 88-32: Records (1980-1982)

Unprocessed mss. 89-21: PATCO Records (1975-1981)

Unprocessed mss. 90-1: PATCO Records (1981-1986)

Unprocessed mss. 92-8: PATCO Records of Bedford, Texas, Office (1981-1982)

Unprocessed mss. 92-13: Records (1968-1979)

Unprocessed mss. 92-32: Collection (1981-1997)

Unprocessed mss. 92-44: Records (1979-1992)

Unprocessed mss. 92-56: PATCO Records (1969-1981)

Unprocessed mss. 95-10: PATCO Collection (1968-1993)

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Separated Material

All materials removed were duplicate items found within the collection except for five magazines which are available elsewhere in the library. The magazines are listed below with the pertinent articles.

Beck, Melinda and Others. "Can We Keep the Skies Safe."Newsweek. 30 January 1984, 24-31.

Byron, Christopher. "Turbulence in the Tower."Time, 17 August 1981, 14-24.

Includes numerous articles on the 1981 PATCO strike.

Marganthau, Tom. "Who Controls the Air?"Newsweek. 17 August 1981, 18-27.

Includes numerous articles on the 1981 PATCO strike.

No author cited. "The ABC's of Justice."U. S. News and World Report. 1 November 1982, 35-58.

Skryzinski, Cindy. "Close Calls Zoom and So Does Concern over Nations Air Traffic System."U. S. News and World Report. 14 July 1986, 53-56.

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Administrative Information

Provenance

All the materials included in the James D. Wright Papers were in his possession until his death in 1994. At this time they fell under the possession of Don Permoda, who officially deeded the papers to The University of Texas at Arlington.

Citation

James D. Wright Papers, AR400, Box Number, Folder Number, Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Library.

Acquisition

Gift, April 26, 1994.

Accessioned as number 94-26.

The James D. Wright Papers were transferred to The University of Texas at Arlington on April 26, 1994. The donation of the materials was negotiated by Jane Boley; Chris Byrum accessioned the collection.

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 Note to the Researcher 

Most of the collection is in excellent condition. However, the researcher should use care when examining newspaper clippings and the scrapbook in the oversize collection as the newsprint is aging and tears easily. The scrapbook includes newspaper articles glued to old computer printout paper. The scrapbook, while still in good condition, must be handled with extreme care to avoid tearing any of the pages.

Many of the letters are written on thin paper; this also includes the documents in the FAA personnel file. Please handle these documents with care as well. Finally, most documents are in chronological order in the folders. Some folders maintain their original order. Please keep all documents in the correct order within the folders.

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Container List

 

Series I. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO), 1969-1993
Extent 3.083 linear ft. (63 folders)

Arranged alphabetically. Material includes legal documents from the 1970 sick out and the 1981 strike; correspondence with congressional leaders and the President; Patco Lives newsletters from 1985 to 1990; legal updates; journal and newspaper articles relating to PATCO and the PATCO strike of 1981; certificates issued to James Wright; clothing from PATCO; PATCO buttons; one newsletter contains a partial history of James Wright's life; PATCO brochures and public relations material; correspondence to and from Wright concerning both the 1971 sick out and the 1981 strike; and Black Pit newsletters from the Houston Local of PATCO.
Box Folder
1 1 Black Pit Newsletters, 1980;
Two copies of the newsletter of the Houston PATCO local.
2 Congressional Bills, 1969-1982;
Two bills, the first, from 1969, pertained to working conditions, certification, and time-off for air traffic controllers. The second, from 1982, pertained to procedures needed to bring the traffic control system back to full service.
3 Congressional Correspondence, 1969;
Includes letters from PATCO encouraging a letter writing campaign to congressmen for the 1969 bill. Letters included are to Wright from Congressmen Bob Eckhardt, Bob Casey and George Bush, as well as Senators John Tower and Ralph Yarborough.
4 Contracts, 1973-1978;
Four contract booklets between PATCO and the FAA.
5 Correspondence with Boltuch and Siegal, 1982-1984;
Law firm that represented Wright during his appeal.
6 Correspondence with Congressman Bob Eckhardt, 1970-1978;
Most letters deal with the events following the 1970 sick out and Wright' subsequent firing. Also includes some of Eckhardt's quarterly reports and eight newspaper articles on Eckhardt.
7 Correspondence-General, 1970-1971;
Letters deal with the six individuals fired, including Wright, as a result of the 1970 sick out.
8 Correspondence-General, 1982-1986;
Letters deal with events that took place after the 1981 PATCO strike.
9 Correspondence with Government, 1978-1982;
Bulk of letters deal with the 1981 PATCO strike and Wright's subsequent removal. Includes letters from White House.
10 Correspondence with Leighton, Conklin, Lemov, Jacobs, and Buckley, 1982-1983;
A law firm that represented many of the fired air traffic controllers.
11 Correspondence with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), 1981-1982;
All correspondence deals with the 1981 PATCO strike. The MSPB heard all cases regarding fired controllers.
12 Correspondence with Neyhart, Anderson, Naussbaum, Reilly and Frietas, 1982-1983;
A law firm that represented many of the fired air traffic controllers, Wright's original lawyers.
13 Correspondence with PATCO, 1969-1990;
Letters mainly deal with the 1970 sick out and aftermath and the 1981 PATCO strike and its aftermath. Includes some letters from the PATCO Has Been Caucus.1969-1971.
14 Correspondence with PATCO, 1969-1990;
Letters mainly deal with the 1970 sick out and aftermath and the 1981 PATCO strike and its aftermath. Includes some letters from the PATCO Has Been Caucus. 1981.
15 Correspondence with PATCO, 1969-1990;
Letters mainly deal with the 1970 sick out and aftermath and the 1981 PATCO strike and its aftermath. Includes some letters from the PATCO Has Been Caucus. 1981-1990.
16 Humorous Items, 1969-1970;
Relates to the 1970 sick out and the six who were fired.
Box Folder
2 1 Jones Report on FAA Employment Policies, 1982;
A report on management employee relationships within the FAA.
2 Journal Articles, 1981;
All related to the 1981 PATCO strike.
3 Journal Articles, 1985-1992;
Articles saved by Wright on the aftermath of the 1981 PATCO strike. The magazine called Trade Winds has a brief biography on Wright.
4 Legal Documents, February-March 1982;
All documents relate to the MSPB and cases being filed as a result of those air traffic controllers being fired for participating in the 1981 PATCO strike. The same is true for the following folders entitled Legal Documents.
5 Legal Documents, March 23, 1982;
An order effecting consolidation of cases heard by the MSPB relating to the 1981 PATCO strike. Includes list of all hearing locations, the presiding officer, whose cases will be heard at the location and who is representing each fired PATCO member.
6 Legal Documents, March-April, 1982;
All documents related to the 1981 PATCO strike.
7 Legal Documents, April 7, 1982;
A discovery order form the MSPB.
8 Legal Documents, April 1982;
All documents related to the 1981 PATCO strike.
9 Legal Documents, May 1982;
All documents related to the 1981 PATCO strike.
10 Legal Documents, May 1982;
All documents related to the 1981 PATCO strike.
11 Legal Documents, June 1982;
All documents related to the 1981 PATCO strike.
12 Legal Documents, June 1982;
All documents related to the 1981 PATCO strike.
Box Folder
3 1 Legal Documents, July 1982;
All documents related to the 1981 PATCO strike.
2 Legal Documents, December 24, 1982;
The post hearing decision brief for appellants in the Northern California area.
3 Legal Documents, January 6, 1983;
The Local MSPB decision brief from presiding official F. Lamont Ligget.
4 Legal Documents, January 24, 1983;
Local MSPB decision brief from presiding official Samuel A. Vitaro for lawyer Jack Solerwitz clients.
5 Legal Documents, March 7, 1983;
Appeal to the US MSPB, Washington Level, for clients of the firm Neyhart, Anderson, Naussbaum, Reilly and Frietas.
6 Legal Updates, 1982-1984;
Newsletters from lawyer Jack Solerwitz to his clients concerning the PATCO cases.
7 Memoranda from the U. S. Department of Transportation, 1984-1985;
The memoranda discuss the issues of rehiring air traffic controllers fired during the 1981 PATCO strike and also those making retirement claims.
8 Newsletter from Congressman Charles Wilson, undated;
Wilson was Wright's representative.
9 Newspaper Articles, 1969-1974;
All articles deal with issues facing air traffic controllers and the 1970 sick out.
10 Newspaper Articles, August 1981-July 1982;
All articles deal with the 1981 PATCO strike and its aftermath.
11 Newspaper Articles, December 1982-December 1983
12 Newspaper Articles, January 1984-December 1986
13 Newspaper Articles, August 1991-February 1993;
Includes one journal article.
14 PATCO Pamphlet, undated;
An early PATCO public relations pamphlet.
15 PATCO Certificates, 1973-1974;
Two certificates given by PATCO to Wright. One is for perseverance after being fired in 1971.
16 PATCO Constitution, 1969;
Includes constitution for both PATCO national organization and for a PATCO local organization.
Box Folder
4 1 PATCO Lives Newsletters, 1985;
A newsletter published by former PATCO members for former PATCO members addressing issues relating to the Air Traffic Control industry and to the events following the 1981 strike. All issues are in collection.
2 PATCO Lives Newsletters, 1986
3 PATCO Lives Newsletters, 1987-1988
4 PATCO Lives Newsletters, 1989-1990
5 PATCO Lives Newsletters, 1991-1993
6 Photographs, June 1, 1977;
Taken at a PATCO crew picnic. Photographs are labeled.
7 Photographs, undated;
Photographs are of the Redstone arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, and one picture of Wright entering an Air Force aircraft.
8 Photographs, Late 1979;
Photographs are unlabeled, however, Congressman Charles Wilson is in two of the photographs.
9 Photographs, undated;
Photographs are unlabeled and unidentified.
10 Publications of PATCO, 1980-1981;
Includes the Oakland local PATCO newsletter and the national PATCO magazine.
11 Sick out 1970- Appeal file, 1970-1971;
Includes evidentiary documents that Wright collected to prepare for his appeal of his being fired as a result of the 1970 sick out.
12 Sick out 1970- Correspondence with Dismissed Controllers, 1970-1971;
Letters to and from the six dismissed controllers referring to their case of the firing as a result of the 1970 sick out.
13 Sick out 1970- Correspondence with Department of Transportation and Federal Government, 1970-1971;
Letters to and from Wright over issues of the 1970 sick out.
14 Sick out 1970- Unfair Labor Practices, 1969-1970;
Wright's file of Unfair Labor Practices collected during his struggle to get his job back after being fired.
Box Folder
5 1 Sick out 1970- March-September 1970;
Documents relating specifically to the removal action of Wright by the Department of Transportation. Collected by Wright to prepare for his appeal.
2 Sick out 1970-Letters of support, 1970-1974;
Letters from congressman and PATCO in support of Wright, includes some copied news articles as well.
3 Sick out 1970-Medical file, April 1970;
Wright's medical file of problems he was facing before sick out. He predicated his appeal on the fact he was actually ordered off the job by a doctor.
4 Solicitations from Lawyers, 1983;
Solicitation from the Jacques Admiralty firm asking Wright to be a client.
5 Special Report on the ATC strike, October 1982;
Two reports, both commissioned by congress, on the effects of the ATC strike.

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Series II. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), 1962-1982
Extent 0.8 linear ft. (26 folders)

Arranged alphabetically. Material includes FAA Air Traffic Control manuals, ATC work material, including maps and quick reference cards; accident reports; numerous FAA World magazines; letters of commendation to James Wright; Wright ATC academy folder; the original FAA personnel file of James Wright; and an invitation to the public for an open house to the Houston ATC center in a 1965 newspaper.
Box Folder
5 6 Accident Report, January 18, 1972;
An FAA aircraft accident report filed by air traffic controllers.
7 Accident Report, January 20, 1972
8 Accident Report, August, 3, 1972
9 Accident Reports, December 2, 1972; January 9, 1975, and February 11, 1975
10 En Route ATC Manual, pages 1-100, January 1, 1973;
This was the manual issued to air traffic controllers that stated the proper procedures for air traffic controllers to follow while working. It was the instruction book.
11 En Route ATC Manual, Pages 101-index, January 1, 1973
12 En Route ATC Manual, pages 1-57, January 1, 1976
13 En Route ATC Manual, pages 58-266, January 1, 1976
14 En Route ATC Manual, pages 267-revisions, January 1, 1976
Box Folder
6 1 En Route ATC Manual, pages 1-100, January 1, 1978
2 En Route ATC Manual, pages 101-200, January 1, 1978
3 En Route ATC Manual, pages 201-appendices, January 1, 1978
4 En Route ATC Manual, pages 1-100, January 1, 1980
5 En Route ATC Manual, pages 101-200, January 1, 1980
6 En Route ATC Manual, pages 201-appendices, January 1, 1980
7 Brochures-FAA, 1981;
Advertising and public relations brochures from the FAA. Some are undated.
8 Control Room Operations Manual, July 20, 1980;
Very similar to the En Route Manuals. This manual was developed specifically for controllers in the Oakland Air Routing Traffic Control Center.
9 Federal Aviation School Folder, 1962;
Wright's original folder from his first training school for Air Traffic Controllers.
10 Invitation to an Open House, September 19, 1965;
Printed in a local newspaper; the invitation invited the public to the Houston Air Traffic Control Center.
11 Letters of Commendation, 1967-1976;
Letters from the FAA to Wright and others for meritorious service.
12 NAS Stage A Operation and Procedures Manual, September 10, 1972;
FAA manual designed to familiarize controllers with a new computer system used by air traffic controllers.
13 Personnel File for James Wright, 1962-1981;
The complete FAA personnel file for Wright. All documents are in their original order. File gives an excellent history of Wright's work history within the FAA.
14 Retirement Claims, 1981-1982;
Wright's efforts to receive full retirement benefits after being fired during the 1981 PATCO strike.
Box Folder
7 1 Work Materials for Air Traffic Controllers, undated;
Includes maps, quick reference cards, airport abbreviations, and computer manuals.
2 Work Materials for Air Traffic Controllers, undated
3 World Magazines, June 1980-August 1981;
The official magazine of the FAA.

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Series III. United States Air Traffic Controllers Organization (USATCO) 1983-1985
Extent 0.267 linear ft. (5 folders)

Arranged alphabetically. Includes a complete collection of USATCO newsletters; correspondence to Wright from USATCO, including the letter informing him of the end of USATCO.
Box Folder
7 4 Correspondence, 1984-1985;
Correspondence between Wright and USATCO. Includes the letter sent to Wright announcing the end of USATCO.
5 USATCO Newsletters, January-June 1983;
Newsletters of the USATCO organization, all issues are in the collection.
6 USATCO Newsletters, July-December 1983
7 USATCO Newsletters, January-June 1984
8 USATCO Newsletters, July-December 1984

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Series I. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO), 1981-1984, undated

box Folder
8 1 Scrapbook, 1981-1984;
A scrapbook of newspaper articles collected by Wright; all articles deal with the 1981 PATCO strike and its aftermath.
2 Buttons, undated;
Three PATCO union buttons.
3 Clothing;
Clothing from PATCO. Includes one sport coat, two light jackets, one shirt. All have PATCO insignia.

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