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Robert Poli dies at 78; air traffic controller led failed 1981 strike
Robert Poli dies at 78; air traffic controller led failed 1981 strike

Robert E. Poli, an air traffic controller who rose to the top of his union and led a 1981 strike that turned into a momentous defeat for organized labor, died Sept. 15 at his home in Meridian, Idaho. He was 78. Poli's death from kidney and respiratory failure was confirmed by his son, Rob. As president of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, Poli led more than 11,000 members off the job on Aug. 3, 1981. Federal workers are barred from striking, but Poli liked to rally his members by declaring that "the only illegal strike is an unsuccessful one." By virtually every measure, the PATCO strike was unsuccessful. Mounted after unsuccessful negotiations...

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