The current United States Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, has proposed putting former President Ronald Reagan in the Department’s Labor Hall of Honor. Ronald Reagan became president in January 1981 and so it was still early in his first term when the strike of the nation’s air traffic controllers union, PATCO, started August 3, 1981. The strike ended abruptly two days later when President Ronald Reagan fired 11,345 air traffic controllers. The firing ended, or busted, the union, which was decertified with little delay.
Many cite the failed PATCO strike as the date of an abrupt degeneration in U.S. labor relations. Reagan era strikes brought similar strikes with union defeats and failures at Phelps-Dodge in Arizona, to airline pilots, to Yale University support staff, at Hormel, at International Paper and others. Bush era strikes at Pittston Coal Co, A.E. Staley, Caterpillar and Bridgestone-Firestone were all defeats for organized labor.
It does not matter which side anyone takes in these disputes or that Reagan was the innocuous head of the Screen Actors Guild. Putting a management figure who crudely busted a union into a Labor Hall of Honor amounts to be a deliberate Trump style insult that ridicules and debases organized labor. Ronald Reagan was rigid and sanctimonious through the whole episode but I doubt even he would choose to show such contempt for the others in a labor hall of honor.
Friday, September 8, 2017
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