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


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 prompt resolution and hostility to organized labor. As Joseph A. McCartin writes, the strike was the culmination of two decades of bitter hostility between labor management that stemmed from the high-pressure nature of the job and the controllers' lack of control in the workplace. The fall of PATCO not only ushered in a long period of labor decline; it also served as a harbinger for the current campaign against public sector unions that now roils American politics. Collision Course sets the strike within a vivid panorama of the rise and near fall of the world's busiest air-traffic control system. It begins with an arresting account of the mid-air collision in 1960 over Park Slope, Brooklyn that cost 134 lives and exposed the weaknesses of an overburdened system. Through the stories

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