In recent months there has been a resurgence of labor protests across the United States. From Ohio to Wisconsin, union members are taking to the streets once more. Yet despite this apparent resurgence, the power of American unions has declined significantly in recent decades. Today The Takeaway traces it all back to August 1981, when nearly 13,000 air traffic controllers went on strike creating a standoff with Ronald Reagan that ended when he fired the majority of them and de-certified their union, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization.
Joseph A. McCartin is a professor of history at Georgetown University. He explores the PATCO strike and its aftermath in his new book, "Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike that Changed America." Ron Palmer is one of the air traffic controllers who lost his job during the strike in 1981.