This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) strike. On Aug. 5, 1981, President Reagan fired 11,000 striking air traffic controllers who refused to return from the picket line after the President issued an ultimatum.
The move to fire the air traffic controllers and ban them from working in the industry changed the face of unionization in America. Company owners took it as a sign that they too could break strikes with impunity, severely curtailing the effectiveness of strikes as a tool to fight for workers’ rights.
Joe McCartin, a professor and labor history expert at Georgetown University, joined America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss the strike, how it impacted the working class and why legislation such as the PRO Act could give unions back their muster. Continue reading