WASHINGTON -- Ronald Reagan agreed to fire Federal Aviation Administrator Langhorne Bond and increase traffic controllers' salaries in return for their union's endorsement of his presidency, according to a document submitted to Congress Friday.
Democratic Reps. Allen Ertel of Pennsylvania and Buddy Roemer of Louisiana urged that the document be turned over to the Justice Department, the House Judiciary Committee or possibly a special prosecutor on grounds it is illegal to trade an endorsement for the firing of someone.
The memorandum of understanding, dated Oct. 20, 1980, is from John Leighton, general counsel of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, to Michael Balzano, Reagan's labor adviser during the campaign.
The memorandum said PATCO had agreed to endorse Reagan.
'As evidence of that understanding, Governor Reagan -- through you, Bob Garrick and other agents -- has agreed that the following will take place after the governor is elected to the presidency,' the memorandum said.
Among the listed items was one that Reagan had agreed 'the present administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration will be replaced by a competent administrator.'
Another item was 'increase pay of air traffic controllers.'
Bond resigned Jan. 20 -- Inauguration Day -- and it was immediately accepted by the new administration. The White House spokeswoman said they had no record of such a memorandum, noting they don't keep copies of documents from the transition period unless they were signed by Reagan.
Rep. Elliott Levitas, D-Ga., chairman of the House Public Works and Transportation's Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee, which received the letter, said he would take the suggestions by Ertel and Roemer about the memo under advisement.
The subcommittee also received a copy of a letter from Reagan to Robert Poli, president of PATCO, also dated Oct. 20, 1980.
'I have been thorougly briefed by members of my staff as to the deplorable state of our nation's air traffic control system,' Reagan's letter said.
'They have told me that too few people working unreasonable hours with obsolete equipment has placed the nation's air travelers in unwarranted danger. In an area so clearly related to public safety, the Carter admininstration has failed to act responsibly.
'You can rest assured that if I am elected president, I will take whatever steps are necessary to provide our air traffic controllers with the most modern equipment available and to adjust staff levels and work days so that they are commensurate with achieving a maximum degree of public safety.'
The White House spokeswoman confirmed the contents of the Reagan letter, and said the recent proposal made to PATCO by the Department of Transportation 'is a fair package and meets their needs.'
'What we are doing now satisfactorily portrays what Reagan wrote in his original letter,' the spokeswoman said.
The Reagan letter went on to say:
'As in all other areas of the federal government where the president has the power of appointment, I fully intend to appoint highly qualified individuals who could work harmoniously with the Congress and the employees of the government agency that they oversee.
'I pledge to you that my administration will work very closely with you to bring about a spirit of cooperation between the president and air traffic controllers. Such harmony can and must exist if we are to restore the people's confidence in their government.'