Looking Back: The 1981 PATCO Strike

When Ronald Reagan fired the nation’s air traffic controllers in 1981, the war on workers and the middle class was clearly rekindled – a war that is still being fought today.

Georgetown University history professor and author Joe McCartin details the battle and its effects in a new book, “Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike That Changed America.”

“The signal event in the evisceration of the American middle class was Ronald Reagan’s breaking the air traffic controllers’ strike in 1981,” says Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson. “In Collision Course, Joe McCartin brilliantly and compellingly tells this tragic tale, and situates it in the broader narrative of middle-class America’s long and sickening decline.”

The influence of the PATCO strike still looms large.

“For the past 30 years workers have seen their power to act collectively to improve their lives continually eroded,” McCartin told Union City, Metro Washington, DC’s Labor Council news. “Understanding how this happened is crucial if we hope to reverse this dangerous trend.  Collision Course is not only about the confrontation that happened between Reagan and the air traffic controllers, it is about how we got to where we are today.”

Click here for more information and here for a recent interview McCartin gave NPR’s Diane Rehm on the strike and its impact.