Wednesday, August 03, 2011

PATCO Strike at 30 -- The News



Here’s what I’ve found in the media so far this morning.

The New York Times -- The Strike That Busted Unions

”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.”

It’s a brilliant piece -- well worth your time.

From CBS Money Watch -- Reagan’s Confrontation with Patco: The Beginning of the End for Unions

”So long as government serves vested rather than general interests, the rules and regulations will be stacked against unions and they will not be able to exert the political influence necessary to get government to be responsive to the needs of workers and their families.”

This is a thoughtful piece written by Mark Thomas. If that name rings a distant bell for my readers, Mr. Thomas is an economics professor that runs the blog Economist’s View -- where I first found Krugman, oh so long ago.

Perhaps the most interesting piece of all belongs to World Socialist Web Site. I say that because most of you (I feel confident in saying) have never even bothered reading something from a true socialist. You should. This is what rabid Republicans say union members are -- socialists. It’s a lie. Think about it. Most PATCO members were ex-military and conservatives. They endorsed Ronald Reagan for President. Socialists have always dreamed of riding on Labor’s coattails. That doesn’t make union members socialists.

Thirty years since the PATCO strike

”The ferocity of the ruling class stunned workers. But Reagan’s ruthlessness—which included dozens of arrests and the jailing of four militant controllers in Texas—was enabled by the AFL-CIO bureaucracy. Though the threat posed by Reagan’s attack on the controllers to the entire labor movement was clear, the AFL-CIO steadfastly refused to authorize a broader working class mobilization, in spite of persistent calls for a general strike from workers. The unions instead sought to channel working class anger into support for the Democratic Party.”

See what I mean?

Finally, I’ll direct you to an archive link I found on Google News. If it works, it will give you some historical perspective on the times. Interestingly, the story right below it (it’s a viewable image of a newspaper) is a story about a walkout at the Post Office. Yeah, they were government workers that weren’t allowed to go on strike either. But they did.

Don Brown
August 3, 2011

1 comment:

John Milton said...

The article referenced the sick-outs of 1970 instead of the full-fledged strike of 1982. People were disciplined that called in sick, one day of suspension for every day sick.

The times changed a lot between those years. Remember the recent coverage of our recession, where the reports were, "This is the worst _______ since 1983."? The recession was horrible in the early 80s, and bring air travel to a halt in such tough times was a horrible tactical decision by Poli and the other PATCO leaders.

You also fail to mention the contract that was on the table that PATCO refused. Things like a 36 hour work week with a guaranteed 4 hours of OT. General labor failed to follow along with their union PATCO memers when they found out the details of what an ATCS was making in pay and benefits as compared with the average.