“1980? Ronald Reagan.” If you've been to a union meeting or rally in the past 15 years, then you know this call and response. The 1980's and Ronald Reagan were bad for the labor movement. Unfortunately, we are still feeling the effects of that anti-union sentiment over 40 years later. August 3 marks the 40th anniversary of 12,000 PATCO employees going on strike, with nearly all of them getting fired by then-President Reagan two days later. That loud message clearly signaled to the business community that it was now open season on unions, working people, and the middle class in America.
Union activist and writer Dennis Joyce wrote an opinion piece in the NY Daily News about this event. As he writes, it is clear that we are still feeling the consequences of that event 40 years ago: the decimation of union density, soaring income inequality, and stagnant wages.
Now is the time for union members to build on recent momentum and a strengthening position in our country's economy in order to grow the middle class once again, with the most pro-union, pro-worker president in generations in Joe Biden.