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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

MEMO TO MAYOR BLOOMBERG: Here's How President Reagan Fired Striking Public Employees

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn't facing a new problem in the strike by the city's unionized public transit employees. President Ronald Reagan faced a similar problem not long after taking office in 1981 when the unionized employees of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization struck.

Reagan gave them 48 hours to return to work, then fired those who refused. Ultimately, more than 11,000 PATCO members los their jobs. Among the ironies was the fact PATCO was among the few labor unions that had supported Reagan against Jimmy Carter in the 1980 presidential contest.

But as Reagan later wrote in his presidential memoirs: "I supported unions and the rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively, but no president could tolerate an illegal strike by Federal employees."

Put another way, there is no right to strike against the public.

Here's the History Channel audio of Reagan making the announcement that striking against the public was a firing offense. And here is a detailed account of a crisis that provided Reagan with an early opportunity to demonstrate to everybody, including the Soviets who were watching him closely, that he meant business.

UPDATE:

Banterist blog has put the strike into "Twas the Night Before Christmas" format. The final line says it all. Mr Mayor, are you listening?