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Reagan vs. Patco: The Strike That Busted Unions

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THIRTY years ago today, when he threatened to fire nearly 13,000 air traffic controllers unless they called off an illegal strike, Ronald Reagan not only transformed his presidency, but also shaped the world of the modern workplace.

The Strike That Busted Unions

By JOSEPH A. McCARTIN
New York Times
August 2, 2011

THIRTY years ago today, when he threatened to fire nearly 13,000 air traffic controllers unless they called off an illegal strike, Ronald Reagan not only transformed his presidency, but also shaped the world of the modern workplace.

More than any other labor dispute of the past three decades, Reagan’s confrontation with the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, or Patco, undermined the bargaining power of American workers and their labor unions. It also polarized our politics in ways that prevent us from addressing the root of our economic troubles: the continuing stagnation of incomes despite rising corporate profits and worker productivity.

By firing those who refused to heed his warning, and breaking their union, Reagan took a considerable risk. Even his closest advisers worried that a major air disaster might result from the wholesale replacement of striking controllers. Air travel was significantly curtailed, and it took several years and billions of dollars (much more than Patco had demanded) to return the system to its pre-strike levels.

But the risk paid off for Reagan in the short run. He showed federal workers and Soviet leaders alike how tough he could be. Although there were 39 illegal work stoppages against the federal government between 1962 and 1981, no significant federal job actions followed Reagan’s firing of the Patco strikers. His forceful handling of the walkout, meanwhile, impressed the Soviets, strengthening his hand in the talks he later pursued with Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

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Reagan vs. Patco: The Strike That Busted Unions | 1 comments | Create New Account
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Reagan vs. Patco: The Strike That Busted Unions
Authored by: Brandt Hardin on Thursday, August 04 2011 @ 02:11 PM CDT

 Reagan has a legacy so distorted by the Conservative idolization of him that we may never have a clear picture of the real man behind the television.  Did he rid the world of commie scum?  Check out my portrait of The Gipper in commemoration of his 100th birthday at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/02/happy-100th-gipper.html