WI: Due to campaign promises Reagan plays ball with PATCO in 1981.

Even if their demands are unreasonable, let's suppose Reagan feels he has to somewhat meet them halfway.

* Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization
(1) Major butterflies in that labor unions and middle-wage jobs play out very differently in the 1980s . . . and beyond.
OR​

(2) Regression to baseline and largely the same.
 
Last edited:
Image result for Reeves Reagan triumphant


' . . . obviously thought candidate Reagan had agreed to those demands in an October 20, 1980, letter that began: "I have been thoroughly briefed by members of my staff as to the deplorable state of our nation's air traffic control system. . . " . . '

Let's say Reagan does feel he has to follow through somewhat.

--> and notice the standard thing in which the union is perceived as making "demands"!
 
Image result for Reeves Reagan triumphant


' . . . obviously thought candidate Reagan had agreed to those demands in an October 20, 1980, letter that began: "I have been thoroughly briefed by members of my staff as to the deplorable state of our nation's air traffic control system. . . " . . '

Let's say Reagan does feel he has to follow through somewhat.

--> and notice the standard thing in which the union is perceived as making "demands"!
Labor unions would be a bit stronger, though the overall trend toward union decline would still continue. Reagan would also be seen less negatively by the American left, though their overall assessment of him would be roughly the same.

Reagan lost Minnesota only narrowly in 1984. Maybe a few more union workers vote for him, and he wins all 50 states?
 
Alternately: Argentine Airlines flight 342 hits the World Trade Center in February (in OTL it missed by seconds). PATCO goes on strike: this is exactly the sort of disaster they've been warning could happen, due to controller overwork and equipment malfunctions. Reagan can't fire them without looking like he's punishing whistleblowers.
 
A different Union gets its teeth kicked in.

Destroying working class power was of even greater importance to the Team B slate than destroying the Soviet Union (without an apocalypse).

PATCO is well placed to be first against the wall because of its state essential nature. US Mail is an alternative.
 
But PATCO had gone off the deep end, with demands that would have even made '70s British Labour blush, like retiring with full pension at 55, and free International Air Travel, plus $10k more cash in immediate raise, and they would have a 32hour workweek.
They already had free Domestic Air Travel

Conservatives what wanted a prime target, couldn't have invented a better villain.

There were Dozens of Unions that got screwed, like the Meatpackers, but those chuckleheads at PATCO ruined things for many more than just their club
 
It seems a long bow, Odyssean even, to draw to claim that a powerful boutique white collar unions ambit claims caused the dismantling of fordist unions in the 1980s. Success in Chile and the international incapacity of fordist unions to restrain militant rank and file seem the cause. Smaller ambit claims and successful restraint of militants will just mean someone else gets it.
 
What is the incentive?

Reagan was on solid legal ground here; there was no need to negotiate, nor were the strikers particularly a sympathetic bunch (like, say, coal miners with poor conditions or displaced auto workers). The firing was crucial to Reagan's image as someone who wouldn't take it from entrenched bureaucratic interests, unlike Ford.

The labor movement more broadly never really had an answer for the growth of containerized shipping and the impacts it had on factors of production. Capital gave higher returns, labor was devalued as a result, and declines in labor power were somewhat a foregone conclusion already in 1981. However, the precedent of management being able to successfully squash strike action was a newer thing compared to the 70s. It is very possible that trend does not set in if Reagan later weighs in against private sector companies doing the same thing. There may be political incentive for this if, say, there is a huge GM or Ford strike, instead of things like the meatpackers, a far less politically influential group.

The truth is that the 70s were sort of a period of arbitrage, in which the global supply chains forming and technological advances made the old mass labor style corporatist troika governance obsolete, and made trade unions look less like social institutions playing a critical role in public life and more like sinecured rent seekers, even if that was kind of unfair to the rank and file, who never asked for that social contract to change. Unlike German and Japanese trade unions, which figured out how to integrate themselves into the corporate structure, American labor unions (like British ones) still held to the ideas of three party negotiations, conflicting interests to be resolved through a battle of interest group power, and the use of the threat of striking. Meanwhile, American corporate ideas on labor relations went pretty quickly from outdated management structures and simpering obedience to troika style arbitration, to outright burn-it-all-down lockout and scab dependent action. There wasn't really much middle ground or integration of labor into corporate structures.

I wonder to what extent the lack of post war competition influenced US labor relations in the 70s and 80s. We know it made the troika style possible, but the collapse of the troika was much more zero sum than perhaps it needed to be.
 
Last edited:
Unlike German and Japanese trade unions, which figured out how to integrate themselves into the corporate structure, A
That was by design, Democrats wanted the NLRB to oversee a totally adversarial relationship between Unions and Management.
It was against the Law to have a German Style Workers Council.
 
PATCO wasn't remotely interested in meeting anyone halfway. It takes two to tango.
Oh but they did modify their initial demands. They dropped the request for free International air fare tickets.
Not exactly halfway, more like 99 to 1.
But hey, they were willing to 'deal'
 
. . . plus $10k more cash in immediate raise, and they would have a 32hour workweek. . . .
And that's what really sticks in people's craw. A raise at the same time you're asking for a shorter workweek.

I remember living in a community where there was a nearby teacher's strike. People didn't focus on the fact that teachers have an amount of education and professional continuing ed roughly comparable to an CPA. Nor did people focus on the fact that with an increase in what teachers were being asked to pay toward medical coverage, it was essentially a pay cut. No, the big jarring neon thing was that people were angry and pissed off [and jealous!] that teachers got a whole summer off!!!

This seemed to be the lion's share of letters-to-the-editor in the local newspaper, although some people did side with the teachers.
 
. . . that a powerful boutique white collar unions ambit claims caused the dismantling of fordist unions in the 1980s. . .
That is generally the claim.

That Reagan firing the air traffic controllers signaled to corporate executives that it was generally okay to play hardball against unions in the 1980s.
 
Connally avoids scandals, is VP instead of Bush. Result is you get a more corporatist reagan revolution and less neoliberal, so unions do somewhat better. You do get companies/the government playing hardball against unions ubt not to OTL's extent, with hidden signals that unions willing to work with the Reaganites might get a better deal.

As a result, you get OTL's post-NAFTA slow move of working class whites outside of dixie to the GOP starting in '81 instead of '94-'95 with NAFTA.
 
That is generally the claim.

That Reagan firing the air traffic controllers signaled to corporate executives that it was generally okay to play hardball against unions in the 1980s.
I think that claim overstates the impact of the PATCO strike. The change in corporate attitudes to labor negotiations was in some ways cultural (a new generation of middle managers and CEOs who never had experience of the non-competitive postwar years in which everyone could be happy), but in other ways was because of changing conditions of international competition that made labor negotiations much more zero sum, as in, firms were under much more existential pressure than they used to be, and as a result, treated negotiations as do or die moments.

There may have also been a sense after the 70s that companies were playing the role of the dupe in agreeing to good faith negotiations that would just keep cycling back to square one every few years or so. This was obviously not a correct impression, as shop steward radicalism really did die down around 1980, and labor unions in the 80s became much more reasonable in their demands, partially because they finally understood that jobs themselves were at risk.

I would guess that if Reagan doesn't fire the air traffic controllers, there would be similar results as to what happened OTL. Keep in mind also that the difference between public sector and private sector labor relations has much less to do with each other than one may think.
 
Connally avoids scandals, is VP instead of Bush. Result is you get a more corporatist reagan revolution and less neoliberal, . . .
. . . and labor unions in the 80s became much more reasonable in their demands, partially because they finally understood that jobs themselves were at risk. . .
To me, the tiger hiding in the jungle started in the 1950s when GM, Ford, Chrysler, and the UAW, meaning United Auto Workers, agree to deals with generous retirement and medical benefits. This is simply deferring a day of reckoning which will eventually come.

Okay, I have a question on the healthiness of free enterprise. Now, I personally favor more of a mixed system, I'm not saying you two favor more of a purist approach. But the question is, how does free enterprise respond to this on its own terms? I'm talking about deferring the future because both sides win now. Carbon emissions and global warming might be another example. We humans are here-and-now creatures, that's both our strength and our weakness.
 
The Strike That Busted Unions
New York Times, Editorial, Joseph A. McCartin, Aug. 2, 2011

" . . . Reagan’s unprecedented dismissal of skilled strikers encouraged private employers to do likewise. Phelps Dodge and International Paper were among the companies that imitated Reagan by replacing strikers rather than negotiating with them. Many other employers followed suit. . . "


And correctly or not, this seems to be a big current of the conventional view -- that Reagan's example encouraged private companies to follow suit.
 
Last edited:
And correctly or not, this seems to be a big current of the conventional view -- that Reagan's example encouraged private companies to follow suit
With high unemployment, and 'right to work' Unions were on thin ice in the early '80s, especially after numerous Union and organized Crime scandals of the '70s.
They didn't have the political power they thought they had anymore.
 
To me, the tiger hiding in the jungle started in the 1950s when GM, Ford, Chrysler, and the UAW, meaning United Auto Workers, agree to deals with generous retirement and medical benefits. This is simply deferring a day of reckoning which will eventually come.

Okay, I have a question on the healthiness of free enterprise. Now, I personally favor more of a mixed system, I'm not saying you two favor more of a purist approach. But the question is, how does free enterprise respond to this on its own terms? I'm talking about deferring the future because both sides win now. Carbon emissions and global warming might be another example. We humans are here-and-now creatures, that's both our strength and our weakness.
the answer is "not well" going by OTL 1981-present, or tbh ttl 1981-present since you'd have a somewhat slower rise in corporate power+inequality+anti union shifts, but still a shit

granted most systems of economics/government tend towards basically malthusian stagnation with the past 200ish years being the weird exception, so a better question would be why didn't it stagnate EARLEIR
 
. . . especially after numerous Union and organized Crime scandals of the '70s. . .
Besides Jimmy Hoffa, how much was there?

And, okay, when I was 16 and in summer before my junior year in high school, our house got flooded, and the insurance company delayed and low-ball. And Oh, I wanted that executive to stand before a judge and be dressed down.

Point being, why is so much corporate misconduct not defined as a crime?

And I like the fact that we maybe come up with some of the less worse examples, and discuss those. Another example, I know someone who works with Walmart and had a shoulder issue. Walmart sent him to a company "doctor" who didn't even have furniture in his office! No, that doesn't 100% prove. But seems likely that the company scrapes bottom of the barrel and keeps doctors who are generally non-treaters on the payroll. It got me thinking that maybe a person should lie the other way. Don't lie and say a non-workplace injury is workplace, rather lie and say that an injury which is clearly workplace happened somewhere else! Something to think about
 
Top