In 1981 Ronald Reagan fired 11,345 air traffic controllers who had been on strike, illegally, for two days, decertified their labor union and banned them from federal employment for life. In 2019, Donald Trump is forcing 10,000 air traffic controllers to work for free, now for over a month, as he continues to hold the nation hostage over his irrational promise to his angry base, the finest people.
PATCO, Professional Air Traffic Controllers’ Organization, was one of the few unions (possibly the only) that backed the anti-union, free marketeer Ronald Reagan’s presidential bid in 1980. Reagan supported PATCO’s calls for better working conditions, said he recognized how vital their services were. Soon after his election as president, Reagan crushed PATCO when the air controllers went on strike in protest of bad working conditions, too many hours, too much stress. A “sickout” (federal workers are forbidden by law to strike) a decade earlier by PATCO had resulted in some improvements to Air Traffic Control and the lives of the controllers. Take it, Wikipedia:
The sickout led officials to recognize that the ATC system was operating nearly at capacity. To alleviate some of this, Congress accelerated the installation of automated systems, reopened the air traffic controller training academy in Oklahoma City, began hiring air traffic controllers at an increasing rate, and raised salaries to help attract and retain controllers.
Reagan, who had supported PATCO while campaigning in 1980, gave a big “fuck you” to the air traffic controllers when PATCO went on strike in 1981. When striking PATCO members refused to immediately return to work he fired 11,345 of them and banned them from federal service for life. He also fined PATCO into bankruptcy and made sure to decertify their union. That should teach you not to ignore your oath not to violate 5 U.S.C. (Supp. III 1956) 118p (now 5 U.S.C. § 7311), which prohibits strikes by federal government employees, no matter how unreasonable or dangerous your conditions of employment. Private employers were very impressed by Reagan’s swift action against unruly workers, as were Republican front men, who got busy curtailing the power of unionized labor.
The crushing of PATCO was the turning point for Republican anti-unionism (organized labor traditionally votes Democratic), which spread over the next few decades until unions today, whose membership has shrunk from about 25% of the American workforce to about 10%, have a shred of their former influence on working conditions, safety, wages, health benefits, retirement packages etc.
Today, almost forty years later, another conservative president is forcing 10,000 air traffic controllers to work for free while he tries to twist the nation’s arm to build a symbol of his ability to keep even the most irrational of his campaign promises. He can lie about everything else, and nonchalantly does, but he is not going to lie to adoring crowds of his supporters who chanted “Build That Wall!” and “Lock Her Up!”
Mitch McConnell, intractable turtle faced motherfucker, sent a unanimous bill to the president keeping the government open, right before the deadline for funding all operations of government. The president was poised to sign it, but Prime Minister Anne Coulter and Minister of OxyContin Rush Limbaugh vetoed that and the president unilaterally shut down the government, folded his arms, and now blames the Democrats for not budging off their stubborn refusal to give the giant irrational baby his $5,700,000,000 bottle.
Fucking Mitch McConnell, proud and unrepentant hyper-partisan who wields unethical power for the same reason a dog licks his balls (because he can), is keeping his head in his shell, waiting this one out. He won’t send any bill to the president, he says, that the president won’t like. Build that wall, Mitch, Lock HER UP!
What is it with right wing presidents and royally fucking the people who are tasked with making sure planes full of Americans don’t crash?