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Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike That Changed America

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Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike That Changed America Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The PATCO strike of 1981 has long been regarded as a pivotal moment in recent US history. It helped transform class politics in the US, and, in conjunction with Thatcher's attack on the miners' union in the UK, signaled a broader shift in advanced industrial democracies toward neoliberal economic policies and conservative class politics. Put simply, employers took Reagan's firing of the air control workers union as a signal that US labor policy would tilt toward owners rather than workers. They were right. Labor organizing became more difficult, and the penalties facing employers for undermining unionization efforts weakened considerably. Certainly, policy changes at the national level were not the only drivers of the decline of American unions; deindustrialization, increased global migration, and the globalization of production were all key factors too. But the decline of unions wasn't simply the effect of economic change; it was a political project as well. And while that project didn't necessarily begin with PATCO, it was a defining early moment that set the course for the future.

In Collision Course, eminent labor historian Joseph McCartin animates this larger context by weaving together three conjoined stories. The first is an engaging and a personality-driven one about the union itself and the major politicians who played a role in its rise in the early 1960s and its fall in the 1980s. The second is one about the transformation of the aviation industry, which grew at a staggering rate from the late 1950s onward. Its growth increased the work-related stresses on the controllers, which fueled the drive for unionization. The final one is about the transformation of the labor movement itself, which in the 1960s began its long drift from its base in the blue-collar industrial private sector to its new base the white-collar public sector. Today, there are more public sector union members than private sector members, and not coincidentally, public support for unions has declined. Quite simply, there is no better window into this larger story than the air traffic controllers union's rise and precipitous fall--a fall that the general public largely did not oppose.

Synopsis:

In August 1981, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) called an illegal strike. The new president, Ronald Reagan, fired the strikers, establishing a reputation for both decisiveness and hostility to organized labor. As Joseph A. McCartin writes, the strike was the culmination of two decades of escalating conflict between controllers and the government that stemmed from the high-pressure nature of the job and the controllers' inability to negotiate with their employer over vital issues. PATCO's fall not only ushered in a long period of labor decline; it also served as a harbinger of the campaign against public sector unions that now roils American politics.

Now available in paperback, Collision Course sets the strike within a vivid panorama of the rise of the world's busiest air-traffic control system. It begins with an arresting account of the 1960 midair collision over New York that cost 134 lives and exposed the weaknesses of an overburdened system. Through the stories of controllers like Mike Rock and Jack Maher, who were galvanized into action by that disaster and went on to found PATCO, it describes the efforts of those who sought to make the airways safer and fought to win a secure place in the American middle class. It climaxes with the story of Reagan and the controllers, who surprisingly endorsed the Republican on the promise that he would address their grievances. That brief, fateful alliance triggered devastating miscalculations that changed America, forging patterns that still govern the nation's labor politics.

Written with an eye for detail and a grasp of the vast consequences of the PATCO conflict for both air travel and America's working class, Collision Course is a stunning achievement.

About the Author

Joseph A. McCartin is Associate Professor of History at Georgetown University and Director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor. His books include Labor's Great War: The Struggle for Industrial Democracy and the Origins of Modern American Labor Relations, 1912-21, which won the 1999 Philip Taft Labor History Book Award for the best book on U.S. labor history.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Getting the Picture

1. The Main Bang

2. Pushing Back

3. Wheels Up

4. Confliction

5. Course Correction

6. Flight Ceiling

7. Turbulence

8. Down the Tubes

9. Pilot Error

10. Dead Reckoning

11. Trading Paint

12. Aluminum Rain

13. Debris Field

Epilogue: Black Box

Acknowledgments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780199836789
Author:
Mccartin, Joseph A.
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Author:
Joseph McCartin
Author:
null, Joseph
Author:
McCartin, Joseph A.
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Subject:
History - American
Subject:
US History - 20th Century
Subject:
History, American | Since 1945
Publication Date:
20111031
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
504
Dimensions:
6.5 x 9.3 x 1.6 in 1.8 lb

Related Subjects

Business » General
History and Social Science » Economics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » Labor
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
History and Social Science » World History » General
Transportation » Aviation » General

Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike That Changed America New Hardcover
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$85.95 In Stock
Product details 504 pages Oxford University Press - English 9780199836789 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , In August 1981, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) called an illegal strike. The new president, Ronald Reagan, fired the strikers, establishing a reputation for both decisiveness and hostility to organized labor. As Joseph A. McCartin writes, the strike was the culmination of two decades of escalating conflict between controllers and the government that stemmed from the high-pressure nature of the job and the controllers' inability to negotiate with their employer over vital issues. PATCO's fall not only ushered in a long period of labor decline; it also served as a harbinger of the campaign against public sector unions that now roils American politics.

Now available in paperback, Collision Course sets the strike within a vivid panorama of the rise of the world's busiest air-traffic control system. It begins with an arresting account of the 1960 midair collision over New York that cost 134 lives and exposed the weaknesses of an overburdened system. Through the stories of controllers like Mike Rock and Jack Maher, who were galvanized into action by that disaster and went on to found PATCO, it describes the efforts of those who sought to make the airways safer and fought to win a secure place in the American middle class. It climaxes with the story of Reagan and the controllers, who surprisingly endorsed the Republican on the promise that he would address their grievances. That brief, fateful alliance triggered devastating miscalculations that changed America, forging patterns that still govern the nation's labor politics.

Written with an eye for detail and a grasp of the vast consequences of the PATCO conflict for both air travel and America's working class, Collision Course is a stunning achievement.

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