Monday, August 15, 2011

Top 10 Governmental Showdowns

Time has a list of the Top 10 Government Showdowns, starting, of course, with our recent "showdown." I picked this one to showcase for my husband (who teaches aeronautics at Kent State and has been working with their new ATC Program): Ronald Reagan vs. the Air Traffic Controllers, 1981:
President Ronald Reagan's public fight with the now defunct Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) redefined labor relations in the U.S. In February 1981, PATCO began negotiating for a new contract, which it hoped would reduce controllers' work week to 32 hours and include a $10,000 pay increase. When talks stalled in August, more than 11,000 air traffic controllers walked off the job. That really ticked President Reagan off. Calling the strike illegal — because of a law that banned strikes by government unions — and a "peril to national safety," Reagan demanded that controllers return to work or risk losing their jobs. But the striking workers did not concede, so almost all of them were fired — and banned from ever working for the Federal Aviation Administration again. Several months later the union was decertified and controllers who had been hired in their place organized the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. While President Clinton later ended the hiring ban on PATCO strikers, the incident had a larger impact, according to an NPR report: before 1981 major strikes in the U.S. averaged about 300 a year; in 2006, that number was about 30.

I also rather enjoyed this one: FDR vs. the Supreme Court, 1937:
Franklin D. Roosevelt wielded the power of the executive more forcefully than any president before him, so it's unsurprising that he should make this list. (In fact, he almost made the list more than once.) In arguably his most infamous power push, in 1937 FDR decided the Supreme Court couldn't handle its caseload and proposed upping the number of justices on the bench. Or, at least that was what he often told the public. But the real reason President Roosevelt wanted to expand the court was because it had struck down much of his expansive New Deal legislation and he hoped more judges, which he would appoint himself, would turn the tides in his favor. Ultimately, his proposed Judicial Procedures Reform Bill failed though, in large part because he failed to win over the American public, who viewed the court-packing proposal as an unprecedented overreach into the judicial branch.

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