12 March 2011

Gipper's Greatest Hits: Reagan Crushes the Air Traffic Controllers' Union Like an Insect

"We cannot compare labor-management relations 
in the private sector with government..."

In August 1981, President Ronald Reagan faced down an audacious countrywide air traffic controllers strike that threatened to paralyze the nation's transportation system.

But the walkout violated a regulation prohibiting government unions from striking, so declaring the situation a federal emergency -per 1947 Taft Hartley Act- the President held a press conference in the White House Rose Garden to issue an ultimatum...

Reagan warned that if the air traffic controllers 
"do not report for work within 48 hours, 
they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated."

Many thought he was bluffing at the time, but despite fear of a political backlash emanating from some of his cabinet on August 5 1981 Ronald Reagan made plain he was not bluffing by firing every last one of the 11,345 striking air traffic controllers who had ignored his order to return to work.

The PATCO union was busted...