Ronald Reagan-Remarks on the Air Traffic Controllers Strike (August 3, 1981) 1981 President Reagan Fires Air Traffic Controllers
Live recording held at the café at AS220 at 5:30 p.m on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 Click here to see the images from the live recording in AS220
1981 President Reagan Fires Air Traffic Controllers A Shot Over the Bow Thirty Years Ago Lands Today in Wisconsin and Elsewhere
President Reagan’s firing of the Air Traffic controllers for refusing to return to work introduced a battle with labor which is still very much a part of our contemporary political discourse. President Reagan sent a message to unions in general that they would not be dictating the terms of their relationship to corporate America or to federal or state governments and that the era of labor’s victories would be over.
With our panelists, Michael Downey, President RI Council 94 ASCME, Georgetown University Professor Joseph McCartin, the author of a new book on this moment, and Paul Cannon, former PATCO member, we will look at how the President’s decision to punish the controllers for their walkout signaled the beginning of a new relationship between our government and organized labor. We will look at how this moment was nested into the rise of free market philosophy and how it resonates today in the contemporary conflicts in Ohio, Wisconsin and in other states and municipalities.
Dr. Joseph McCartin is an Associate Professor of History at Georgetown University. He is an expert on twentieth century U.S. labor, social and political issues. He teaches courses in 20th Century U.S. Labor History,The U.S. Since 1945, America Between the Wars, 20th Century (and Modern) U.S. State and Society, and 20th Century U.S. Social History. His new book is Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike that Changed America.
Mike Downey is the president of RI Council 94 AFSCME. He followed his father and grandfather into a career as a plumber. He went to La Salle Academy. After La Salle, he went to plumbing school, a five-year program of work and classes. Downey, of Irish heritage, lives now in Charlestown, where he was on the Town Council, but grew up in Providence and Narragansett.
Paul Cannon was an Air Traffic Controller for 13 years in Boston. He was the President of a PATCO (Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization) local between 1975 and 1979, stepping down to be one of the first “Choirboy” PATCO activists in New England. He resigned as a Choirboy and became campaign manager for George Kerr’s bid to become PATCO president; he then participated in the PATCO strike and stayed active with the local. Later he became a business agent for Teamster Local 122.
- Collision Course; Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike that Changed America by Joseph A. McCartin; Oxford Press 2011
- Tear Down This Myth; The Right-Wing Distortion of the Reagan Legacy by Will Bunch; Simon and Schuster 2009
- There Is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America by Philip Dray; Anchor Press 2011