Watch Pushing Tin. Unlike Breaking Bad, which uses air traffic control as a super-dramatic way of illustrating the wages of other people’s sins without giving us any sense of what being an air traffic controller is actually like, Pushing Tin actually gets at the pressures of the job and what it’s like to hang out with a bunch of controllers (something I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing):
It’s also worth marking this anniversary by noting that the Federal Aviation Administration had more than 4,000 employees on furlough because House Republicans wouldn’t back a bill reauthorizing the agency without including a provision in that bill that would create new obstacles for people who work in the airline and railroad industries to unionize. The people who were temporarily out of a job didn’t include controllers, but did include safety inspectors. Presumably, we place a pretty high value on people who are flying to their destinations getting there safely. It’s worth acknowledging how hard and stressful that work of keeping people safe is. They are, and should be, well-compensated for that work given the value we place on it. And theirs is a job where peace of mind, mental health care, and a positive work environment are not just some nice extras that their union gets for them — they’re integral to everyone else’s safety.