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Organized labor in North America under a 12-year siege

Photo caption: Moving materials and equipment through polished lobbies is all in a day’s work.

A new era of attacks on unions was ushered in when Ronald Reagan fired the air traffic controllers’ organization during a 1981 strike.  Business, big and small, saw that as a green light to declare war on organized labor.

For the next 12 years, working people saw their standard of living diminish as corporate profits skyrocketed.  The Reagan-Bush philosophy of “free” trade encouraged many major companies to close shop in the U.S. and reopen in Third World countries where wages are low and environmental and safety laws are virtually nonexistent.

The Reagan-Bush years brought a wave of anti-worker actions, such as the permanent replacement of striking workers with nonunion employees, the demand by employers that workers accept cuts in wages, reduced benefits and more givebacks in working conditions, and the growing use of temporary or part-time workers in every phase of business and industry.

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