The Strike that changed America

November 30th, 2011

In this time of renewed labor unrest, particularly in the public sector, it's worth looking back at the most momentous public sector strike of the second half of the 20th Century. It came when the Professional Air Traffic Controllers, a group that would reflect he progressive idealism and hope of the 60's, would run headlong into Ronald Reagan's conservative revolution of the 1980's. These two forces, which had been on a collision course since JFK signed an Executive Order allowing government workers to organize unions, had their ultimate collision on August 3rd, 1981. Since that time, like the big bang, the the pieces from that moment of collision are still being thrown off and still shaping our politics today.

Georgetown University labor expert Joseph McCartin takes us back to that moment and the events that lead up to it in Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike that Changed America. My conversation with Jospeh McCartin: