From the Archives: 1966 airline strike over

Aug. 20, 1966: Flight attendant Linda Spelman passes out copies of the Los Angeles Times to passengers aboard TWA flight.
Aug. 20, 1966: Flight attendant Linda Spelman passes out the Los Angeles Times on the first TWA flight from L.A. to New York after a strike ended.
(Frank Q. Brown/Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

On July 8, 1966, the International Assn. of Machinists (IMA) union went on strike against five airlines. Sixty percent of U.S. commercial air traffic was grounded. About 35,000 workers from various unions stayed off the job. An estimated 150,000 daily passengers scrambled for alternative transportation.

Two settlement attempts by President Johnson’s White House staff failed. Finally, after 43 days, the IMA ratified a settlement on Aug. 19, 1966. The airlines –- TWA, United, Northwest, National, and Eastern -- resumed operations. The IMA won a 6% pay increase.

Eric Malnic, in the Aug. 21, 1966, Los Angeles Times, reported:

Jets whined, children whooped, mothers scolded and loudspeakers cracked with notices of impending flights once again Saturday as three stumbling airline terminals awakened at International Airport.


Everyone talked a little louder than usual – the way they do at parties. The expression on each face was the same – a smile.

“Boy, am I glad that strike is over,” grinned 19-year-old Ed Hart, a Long Beach-based sailor, as he settled back into his seat on Trans World Airlines’ first flight to his hometown of New York since the machinists strike began.

“I got 11 days of liberty yesterday, and there’s this girl back in New York I haven’t seen for a long time,” he said. “If that strike hadn’t ended and I hadn’t gotten to go back – well, let’s just say I’m glad the strike did end.”

July 8, 1966: Two members of the International Assn. of Machinists picket Trans World Airline hanger at Los Angeles International Airport. The strike against five airlines lasted 43 days.
(Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)