Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike That Changed America - Joseph A. McCartin (2011 Oxford University Press)

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Condition: Acceptable: Signs of wear and consistent use. Former library book. See images for the condition of this book.

Blurb: On August 3, 1981, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, representing 12,000 federal employees, called an illegal strike. Ronald Reagan, president for less than seven months, fired the strikers, establishing a reputation for prompt resolution, not to mention hostility toward organized labor. But as Joseph A. McCartin writes, the PATCO strike was much more than a single, turning-point labor dispute. It was the culmination years of high-stakes conflict, recurrent airline disasters, and the tragic struggles of individual air traffic controllers whose actions repeatedly saved lives, but who could not save their union. The fall of PATCO not only ushered in a long period of labor decline, but served as a harbinger for the current campaign against public sector unions that now roils American politics.
In Collision Course, McCartin sets the PATCO strike within a vivid panorama of the rise and near fall of the world's busiest air-traffic control system. He begins with an arresting account of the mid-air collision over Park Slope, Brooklyn, on December 16, 1960, that cost 134 lives and disillusioned controllers. Through the stories of controllers like Mike Rock and Jack Maher, who were galvanized into action by the Brooklyn disaster and went on to found PATCO, McCartin describes the intense camaraderie, professionalism, and ambition of those who sought to make the airways safer and their jobs less stressful while at the same time pushing their way into the middle class. Collision Course tells a story of escalating confrontation, political intrigue, and post-1960s generational conflict. Most of all, it tells the story of Reagan and the controllers, whose surprising courtship in the 1980 election led PATCO to endorse the Republican on the promise that he would address controllers' grievances. That brief fateful alliance triggered devastating miscalculations that changed the course of history, establishing patterns that still govern America's labor politics.
Gripping, incisive, written with an eye for detail and a grasp of the vast consequences of PATCO conflict for both air travel and America's working class, Collision Course is a stunning achievement.