In 1981, Ronald Reagan drew a clear line with unionized federal workers.

In 1981, President Reagan Threatened to Fire Air Traffic Controllers—and Got His Way

In 1981, President Reagan Threatened to Fire Air Traffic Controllers—and Got His Way

Bite-sized stories from presidential campaign history.
Dec. 13 2017 5:27 PM

The Air Traffic Takedown

In 1981, Ronald Reagan served an ultimatum to air traffic controllers.

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This episode of Whistlestop travels back to Aug. 3, 1981, when 12,000 air traffic controllers walked off the job.

Whistlestop is Slate’s podcast about presidential history. Hosted by Political Gabfest panelist John Dickerson, each installment will revisit memorable moments from America’s presidential carnival.

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Podcast production by Jocelyn Frank. Research by Brian Rosenwald.