The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Reagan’s Union Busting

Apr 15, 2013

At the same time Margaret Thatcher was gaining her stride in attacking workers in Britain, U.S. President Ronald Reagan was confronting unionized labor.

More than 30 years ago, on August 2, 1981, Reagan threatened the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, PATCO, with firing its 13,000 members for an “illegal strike.” Two days later, he fired 11,000 air traffic controllers, curtailing commercial air traffic in the U.S. until military controllers were brought into the towers of U.S. airports.

His action gave impetus to the bosses to do the same, with workers fired for striking at Phelps Dodge copper mines and at International Paper.

The results of Reagan’s move would be lower pay for air traffic controllers, worse stress in the control tower, less safe travel and more pressure on unionized workers not to strike. They were threatened with the same consequences as befell PATCO.

The attack of bosses and their governments against workers were international from the start.