In Showdown with Air Traffic Controllers, the Public Sided with Reagan





The bitter fight over union rights in Wisconsin calls to mind a labor battle that helped define the first year of Ronald Reagan's presidency. Thirty years ago in August, Reagan fired more than 11,000 air traffic controllers after they staged a strike against the federal government.

Reagan's reaction to the PATCO (Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization) strike was widely portrayed as harsh -- not only did Reagan fire the controllers, he banned the government from ever rehiring them. The "ban for life" was rescinded by the Clinton administration, but not until 12 years after the strike.

But the public solidly supported Reagan's action. Fully 59% of Americans approved of the way he was handling the issue, according to a Gallup poll conducted a few days after he fired the controllers. A Harris survey at about the same time showed that by 51% to 40%, more said they were in sympathy with the Reagan administration than with the air traffic controllers. Several months later, in January 1982, 50% said that Reagan's treatment of the air traffic controllers was "about right."

In many ways, the public's reaction was predictable. While labor unions had much more support in the early 1980s than they do today, Americans clearly drew the line against strikes by government workers in essential occupations -- including air traffic controllers. In the Gallup poll, just 28% said air traffic controllers should be permitted to strike while 68% said they should not. Even among those in households with a union member, just 40% said the controllers should be allowed to strike....



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Arnold Shcherban - 2/27/2011

And just very recently, in 2008 presidential elections "public sided" with Obama..., while already in two years "siding" with Tea Party and so-called Conservatives.
This just demonstrates, one more time, political and historical ignorance and gullibility of American electorate.

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