Thirty years ago tonight, the final hours of PATCO's strike deadline ticked down. I had an opportunity to spend the evening with veterans of the 1981 walkout, members of PATCO, the revived remnant of the organization that struck thirty years ago. It was a most unusual gathering and it led to a rich discussion. Here is an excerpt of the text I wrote for my remarks to them:
Thank you. It is an honor to be here with all of you on what is really in some ways quite a solemn occasion. Thirty years ago, at around this hour you and your colleagues began to gather in your cluster meetings, as your negotiators sat down across the table from President Ronald Reagan’s representatives in the offices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in Washington. Having now interviewed more than 100 of you, having spoken with members of your leadership then, the mediators, and the Reagan Administration’s key representatives, I can say that everyone concerned already knew at this time thirty years ago that what was about to happen could be momentous. But, of course, no one then knew exactly how momentous it would be.