Readers may be interested in my recent review of Collision Course, an excellent new history of the PATCO strike. The book is judicious and evenhanded. It clarifies key distinctions, familiar to readers of this blog, between unions in the public and private sectors, and between labor relations in federal and state and local government. The author, Georgetown labor historian Joseph McCartin, deftly shows how the union representing the air traffic controller's sociological and psychological dynamics made a strike almost inevitable. McCartin makes a powerful case that the strike was a huge mistake: no union can (or should) back the president of the United States into a corner. Ultimately, it was suicidal for federal workers to call an illegal strike against a popular president in the midst of an economic downturn.
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