Eight months after he was sworn into office, Ronald Reagan delivered big-time for corporate America. The air traffic controllers called a strike. Because they were public employees, the strike was illegal, but brief, illegal strikes had occurred with some frequency for decades. Besides, as a candidate, Reagan had sought (and won) the endorsement of the air traffic controllers’ union, with the promise that he would improve their terrible working conditions. Now that he was president, Reagan changed his loyalties: he threw a lightning-quick punch at the union. No negotiations or discussions of the problems they faced. Instead, he told the workers they had forty-eight hours to return to their jobs, and when most of them did not, he fired them on the spot and banned them from government service for life. The blow was devastating. The union went bankrupt, and many of the air traffic controllers were personally broken as well.
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