A liberal wing of the AFL-CIO and consumer advocate Ralph Nader are suing the Reagan administration to force the rehiring of ''ready, willing, and able'' air traffic controllers who were fired for striking against the government in August , reports Monitor labor coorespondent Ed Townsend.
The legal action in the US District Court in Washington, D.C., contends that air travel safety is deteriorating as time and the onset of winter weather adds to the strain on Federal Aviation Adminstration (FAA) operations.
The Reagan administration has refused to rehire striking controllers although the walkout ''for all practical purposes . . . has been lost and the union has been destroyed,'' Douglas Fraser, president of the United Auto Workers said in Washington. ''Ronald Reagan has won. He's won the whole war. The continued refusal to rehire the controllers is mean-spirited, vicious, and cruel.''
While the reemployment of the controllers is an important reason for the suit , the action is aimed more directly at the legal obligation of the government, through the FAA, to maintain air traffic safety. Those bringing the suit, including the heads of five unions, say they are frequent air travelers and argue that they ''risk personal injury and death'' flying under conditions that now exist.