tv Lectures in History Late-20th Century Transformation of Work CSPAN April 28, 2019 11:59am-12:56pm EDT
the three who were still living at the time riding the railroads, keeping on the railroad commission in one hand and the legislature and the other hand and corrupting california. ofinterest is in this part it. how these railroads work, how they made their money, and what is this part, which you will hear about later. most of the accounts and was the driving of the golden spike. construction, the job is done. it is time to move on. i am less interested in the building of it than how it actually operated. how it worked in california in the 19th century. >> learn more about>> the transcontinental railroad sunday at 1:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv. only on c-span3. >> next on lectures in history. georgetown university professor joseph mccartan teaches a class
on industrialization and the workforce from the 1960's through the end of the 20th century. emergingbes technologies like barcodes and computers. a decrease in union power prof. mccartin: welcome. of course i am joe mccartin increase -- in case anybody has forgotten. today, we're going to be talking about a period from 1968 to 1988 that i call "turnabout" ears. -- turnabout years. i come up with the title because of a historian that wrote about the 1930's. he called them "the turbulent years." the years of militancy and organizing we saw. these years were equally important to shaping 20th
century working america, but in a different way. they were not years of upheaval, organization, and progress, so much as a big turnabout. a way in which the working american class took a turn to a different stage in its existence. we could say that from the 1930's to the 1970's was an experience of umbrella promise and expanding rights for -- unbroken progress and expanding rights for workers. but in the years between 1968 and 1988, a lot of that turned around. so, "turnabout years." i want to start with three stories that locate what is going on in this period, and talk about what's going on with the economy. talking about public-sector workers in the period, what they faced, and then conclude with some barometers of what's happening to working-class america by the end of this period. to begin, let me start with
three stories. i am going to locate these in 1977. roughly about halfway into the period we are talking about. 32 years with the conclusion of world war ii. it's 32 years of, pretty much, american progress economically, at least into the early 1970's when workers saw their standard of living rising, and increasing opportunity. even increasing rights as we have seen, african-americans, and women when protections of their workplace rights for discrimination. into the mid-1970's it became clear that all was not necessarily well with the american working class. one way that you start to see
this is expressed in the music and culture of this time. take, for example, what was a leading country in the western hit of 1977? a song that you could not hardly turn on the radio without hearing. it was performed by a singer with the perfect name, johnny paycheck. the song was called "take this job and shove it." i think it says a lot about what was going on in these years for many workers. i had been working in this factory, the lyrics go, for 15 years and i watched my woman drowned in a pool of tears. i have seen a lot of good folks die. i would give the shirt right off of my back if i had the guts to say, take this job and shove it. he goes on to talk about his foreman. he is a regular dog. boss thinks he is so
cool. but, you know, "lord, i cannot wait to see their faces when i get the nerve to say, take this job and shove it." that was an experience a lot of people felt in many workplaces in this country. the angst of many workers in this time is expressed in those lines. the phrase "take this job and shove it" starts to take on interesting meanings in 1977. consider what was happening that year in atlanta, georgia. on march 28 of 1977, sanitation workers went out on strike in atlanta. it was an all african-american sanitation workforce. they were led by a fellow named lehman hood. there he is on the left with the president of their union.
lehman hood had been marching in memphis with dr. martin luther king in 1968. in 1970 he had gone to atlanta and helped lead the organization of sanitation workers on strike. they ended up getting a union. and winning a pay increase as a result of that strike. by 1977 the progress had seemed to slow in atlanta. what was really ironic about it was that, by 1977, the city had its first african-american mayor. jackson had been deputy mayor of atlanta in 1970. when that earlier strike had happened. he very courageously, in the middle of that strike he broke with his mayor. he said, you've got to help the sanitation workers, their wages are a disgrace before god.
he helped to turn public opinion and helped win that strike for the strikers. he went on to become elected mayor in 1973. with the help of the union and with the help of the guy, lehman hood. once he became mayor of atlanta, he felt he needed to build support among the white business establishment of the city. it would look bad if he caved in to the demands of the city's workers, even the sanitation workers who has struggled over the years. their wages in 1977 were still poor. they went out on strike. jackson refused to negotiate with them. he issued an ultimatum. you are to return to work in 72 hours, he said, or you lose your jobs, you are fired. hood was shocked. this was a guy he worked with. he proved true to his word.
they did not return and he fired them. in the middle of this, to add insult to injury, the political establishment of the civil rights community, for the most part, sided with the mayor. martin luther king's father, nine years after he was assassinated helping sanitation workers, he felt that they strike might damage the first african-american mayor of atlanta. he came down hard against the strikers. he said publicly to maynard jackson, if they don't return to work, you should "fire the hell out of them." that is what jackson did. later the strike broke and they got their jobs back. it was clear that times were changing, and not necessarily in a good way. there is a protester being arrested during the strike against jackson's stand in atlanta.
that is story one. story two. just months later, september, 1977. it was a monday in youngstown, ohio. youngstown is just west of pittsburgh. it had been a steelmaking center in a country. it was known as steel town usa. steel city usa as this postcard from the 1950's had it. in the years from the 1930's to the 1970's it had been a center of huge employment. people like johnny metzger, although he did not work in youngstown. it had been the site in the 1930's of struggle. this very plant, the youngstown sheet and tube plant in
youngstown. workers used to have to go back and forth over this bridge to get into the plant back in the 1930's. when they finally organized the cio, one of the things they had them do was pay a penny, a toll to get in and out of work on this bridge. they said the hell with that toll. they formed a union, they lost a strike in 1937, but they got the union by 1941. they built it into a really good job to have. but when they arrived on september 19, 1977, that morning, 5000 people to go to work, they were told without warning, we are closing down the plant. some of them had only recently graduated from high school. they look forward to working there as their parents had done, as their grandparents had done. it was a solid job and it was suddenly gone.
it had been known in youngstown as "black monday." it was not the end. within five years 50,000 jobs were lost around youngstown. in what had been a deep industrial part of the country, the heart of the steelmaking center of the country was being wiped out. it began that day in 1977, at least symbolically. the third story. that summer of 1977, the congress introduced, with the president jimmy carter nine bill calledfice, a the labor law reform act. byquickly passed the house
october of 1977. what was the bill being pushed through congress for? by 1977 it was becoming increasingly clear to people who supported union that the wagner act and the national labor reunion act -- national labor union act no longer existed. employers, as we talked about before, they found no penalty really in engaging in unfair labor practices and the number thatarges that employers were brought against employers for engaging in those practices was skyrocketing, up 400% between 1960 and 1980. the number of workers fired for trying to form unions up 300%. reinstatedad to be and given back pain because it was proven that the company had illegally fired them up five times. havinghole industry emerged of labor consultants who
advised companies on how exactly to pursue these policies, when to fire people, how to appeal in the courts, how to get around the law. the bill was supposed to fix all that. it got through the house, it ran into a brick wall in the senate. the democrats controlled the senate, the controlled of the house. they had a democratic president but they could not overcome a filibuster in the senate. they cannot get 60 votes and it died. there have been several attempts since then to reform labor laws, they have all failed. in the middle of this period of this postwar boom that has lifted so many americans by the mid-1970's, something was happening. something disturbing that led to the events in atlanta, that led to the shutdown in youngstown, that led to the bottling up up any possibility of being able to modernize a labor law that was already 40 years old by then,
and growing increasingly. america was entering a new period. i want to talk about two aspects of this period. one is what started to happen to the economy is all of this was occurring. because the country started to go into a rapid economic reorganization. this was just a set of factors. i would say that five big things came together in the period between 1968 and 1988. a faithful convergence. the first of them is what happened to oil and gas prices, and how that led to a word that nobody had ever heard of before. and a concept that was alien to
economists, even 20 or 30 years before. a concept called stagflation. what happened was this. in october of 1973 a war took place between israel and some of its arab country neighbors. it is known as the yom kippur war. the u.s. supported israel in that war. in retaliation some arab member states had an organization of opec, the organization of petroleum exporting countries decided to embargo oil sales for the united states. this sent fuel prices skyrocketing. in a matter of weeks, in the fall of 1973, the country sought huge lines at gas stations -- saw huge lines at gas stations, rationing in many states, and stealing of gas out of each
other's gas tanks by siphoning. that was how desperate some people were for gas. if you can make out that one picture, it is a father and son saying, "gas dealers beware, we are loaded for bear in." he has a gun in his hand. what could lead to this sense of panic? for working-class america, there was nothing more symbolic of postwar prosperity than having your car, and the mobility that came with it. suddenly, gas prices were making driving that car increasingly difficult. what that led to was a bigger economic phenomenon that we call stagflation. there were two oil shocks in the 1970's. the first happened in 1973. the second began in late 1978. what happened during the shocks
is that prices skyrocketed at the same time that gmp growth plummeted. when gmp growth plummets that means unemployment goes up. here is what was weird about that. prior to the 1970's, it was a basic rule of economics that unemployment and inflation tended to balance each other out. when unemployment was up, that means workers were not spending money and that would drive prices down. unemployment up, prices down. if unemployment started to fall, that would push prices up as people had money, they had jobs. what happens when both rise simultaneously? that had never happened before. as you can see and these periods, that happened. it was given the name stagflation. it is hard to exaggerate the degree of disorganization and fear that that produced in many
working-class households that were simultaneously fearing losing their jobs in this crisis. but also, at the same time, seeing prices rise. it had a big, big impact. look at consumer changes over the years. there was a big inflation spike during the war and one right after. it then two big spikes in the 1970's. one time inflation got up above double digits. more than 10% increase in the cost of things on average over the course of a year. at the same time that was happening, unemployment was also high, as you see on this graph. that led to a tremendous sense of being squeezed by many americans. what coincided with that was, just about, total, sudden stop in the growth of real wages. what does a dollar buy in a
person's paycheck? all through the years there is a continuous rise in that. the purchasing power of the american paycheck grew over time. you could buy more with it, but suddenly, boom, it flatlined. it even went down. the real average weekly earnings of workers suddenly made a downturn after 1973. what impacted that have on families? as you can see here, it meant that family medium income started growing and basically -- suddenly stopped growing and basically flatlined. individual income was declining. family income was stagnant. by the way, what do you think accounts for that? if individual income was declining, shouldn't family income have been?
why wouldn't it have been? >> transitioning from single breadwinner systems. prof. mccartin: exactly right. if you did not hear that, the transition to breadwinners. what families did in response to this is that they deployed women with children into the workplace faster. a couple of the democratic -- a couple of the consequences of was that women share in the paid labor force, it jumped by more in the 1970's than it had in any decade. cross the 50% mark for the first time. and it started to affect when people married and when they had children. people started to marry later. this might seem astonishingly young to you. in 1971, most women on average married at age 20. can you believe that? it had risen to 22 by 1981. men from 22-24.
that still might seem young for you because it continues to go up. the biggest reason that went up then was that people were uncertain about making the economic commitments necessary in this new environment. you have stagflation, you have stagnant incomes, then you have the beginnings of the phenomenon we have come to call globalization. it was beginning after world war ii. we had basically bombed the german economy, the japanese economy, but we helped rebuild those after the war. we also saw our companies become multinational, increasingly of vast -- invest abroad. by 1971, for the first time the u.s. imported more than it exported. that was happening before the dislocations i mentioned in the
1970's. but what made globalization much more real for people and a 1970's was the transformation that was happening in logistics. this is something that i think shapes all of our lives today. where you can order something from amazon and have it within a day. all of that i think can be dated to what began to happen in the 1970's with shipping containerization. actually, not much had changed in the way ships were loaded and unloaded between the 19th century and the 1960's. there were mostly loaded and unloaded by longshoremen who put boxes on pallets that were hauled up in a cargo net, deposited on the dock, or taken up from the dock and deposited in the hold where longshoremen would stack them in the hold of the ship.
by the 1950's, a shipping entrepreneur named malcom mclean came up with the revolutionary idea. what if you put all of the things that were made in a factory into a container at the factory, then put that container on the back of a truck or train, took it to a dock, put it in the ship, said the ship to where it was going, it was unloaded, then that same container was either put on a train or a truck and brought exactly to the location where it was needed, where the goods had been ordered? this would streamline shipping. that is what he did. he founded a company called sealand. he shipped his first container from new jersey to texas in
1956. the first one from the u.s. to asia in 1968. it was really in the 1970's that containerization to cold. -- took hold. by 1980, 70% and plus of goods between the u.s. and europe were sent this way. 80% between the u.s. and asia. these giant ships, and if you are driving i-95 past baltimore, you see those big cranes that are meant to move those containers. what it did was completely shrink the globe. it made shipping so cheap to move goods that suddenly, u.s. workers found themselves competing with workers around the globe, making things that could be shipped so cheaply it been a matter how far from the point of use that they were ultimately made.
what began to happen and response to that is the creation of global supply chains. supply chains that made use of these technologies and could assemble a global assembly-line. consider the automobile. the product that invented the assembly line, henry ford. before the 1970's, almost all the parts in the automobile assembled in the u.s. were made in the u.s.. it could be made increasingly anywhere and could be brought here cheaply. once these global supply chains started to emerge, that really changed things. the way companies can make all of this logistical revolution work was in combination with other new technologies that also took off in the 1970's. the communication satellite.
that meant that a corporation could be in immediate contact with any of its contractors around the world. the upc code, the barcode, which was developed in the 1970's and took off in the mid-1970's. they made it possible to scan an item in china, and immediately know in the u.s. when has it been loaded, where it was anywhere in the world, etc. and of course, the computer. the combination of those things changed the structure of the economy, and that was already going on by the mid-1970's. with all this an event happened. corporations began to change in some fundamental ways. the relationship to the financial market also began to change. i would say the first change is a change that i would call
managerial capitalism, to one that i would call shareholder capitalism. before explaining that change, let me say a few things about what made it possible. the 1970's saw the intersection of three things occur. it made a financial revolution in the country possible. the first was that there was a tremendous increase in the pools of capital in this country, that were looking for an outlet, a place of investment to get returns. part of that was a result of the success of workers. they had won pension plans for themselves. part was a development of new entities like 401(k)s that were made. tax protective retirement investments made possible by legislation.
suddenly, as huge piles of capitals developed, they can be used to leverage change in the structure of things. the second thing that occurred was that the stagflation of rising inflation had a big impact on how people with that capital thought about what kind of returns they wanted. before the 1970's, 4% or 5% of turns was good. you are happy with that. you're not happy if the inflation rate is 10%, 11%. suddenly there is an incentive to try to get greater returns on investment. that is preparing to change the way markets work, and then a third thing, a new idea, an idea proposed by economist michael jensen and william mechling.
an idea that i think had the find a shareholder capitalism. what these economists did in 1976 was looked at the way u.s. corporations were run and said, they are not getting the best return on investment. in fact, their corporate leaders are kind of lazy, and they are not doing the best for their stockholders. what we need is stockholders to be able to get more. we need corporate leaders to respond more to stockholders. that is what started to happen. one of the first executives who got this message, and who fully believed it entirely was a man who came to the leadership of general electric corporation in 1941. his name was jack welsh. he gave a speech in 1981 at the pierre hotel in new york after becoming ge's ceo. he called it growing fast in a slow growth economy. what he said is, "there are things we can do to get those
bigger returns." one of the things that he focused on in ge was downsizing. taking the company's payroll and shedding as much of it as he could. the more he shed, the more prices rose. ge cut its payroll from 411,000 down to under 300,000 in just five years under welsh. the revenues of the country below and at the same time. -- the revenues of the country ballooned. he developed a nickname in those days. it was after a weapon that the military was developing called the neutron bomb. when you dropped it on a city, and it exploded, it did not destroy any of the buildings, it just simply spread lethal radiation over everything. it killed people, but it left structures intact.
this is what they said about jack welch is that he was like a neutron bomb for ge employees. they called him "neutron jack." so, yeah, he was popular. [laughter] prof. mccartin: he became a guru for the management people of his time. what's that tv show with alec baldwin? "30 rock." alec baldwin's character tries to emulate that. that was the thing to do in the 1980's, manager company that way. as that was happening, as people like welch were redefining the corporation may actually began to change the form of american corporations. you can look over the 20th
century and say there were three different models of corporate types that existed. at the beginning of the century it was a model of "bigger is better." that was a model of vertically and horizontally integrating a corporation. buying up as many competitors as you could. buying up the upstream and downstream so you had the most market control. that is what u.s. steel did. it was founded in 1901. it was that kind of company that gave rise to managerial capitalism. what is an evidence of managerial capitalism? remember how the u.s. responded in 1935 to the cio? does anybody remember? well, not quite. anybody? it's ok, it's been a week, were
-- or a couple. [laughter] prof. mccartin: they recognized the union without a strike. they did not want to go through what gm went through. the corporate leaders felt free to do that. they did not feel pressure from their stockholders that said don't do that. there was no stockholder backlash. they ran the company as they saw fit. they were not worried about what the markets thought. it probably proved to be a good decision. you have that model and that was ascended up into the 1960's. the postwar era started to change. instead of integrating within your sector, companies began to diversify and buy up things outside of their sector. the so-called conglomerate. it was on the rise between the 50's and the 80's. parade in joined that 1981. they bought marathon oil, it had nothing to do with the steel business that they thought it
was a good sideline for the company. they even changed the name to x. when they did that. oft happens as the result the market revolution i've just described to you, is that a third model starts. this really dates to the 70's. people started to think about how you get more returns on investment, how you bump up stock prices, they began to look at those conglomerates and believe that they were worth more in pieces than they were as a whole. that the hole was last than the sum of its parts. thinking that, people began to move in the soft part of these conglomerates to drive up prices and to shed part of their labor force. one company that model this was a shipping company. it bought youngstown sheet and tube in 1969 and after it did
that, it basically used youngstown sheet and tube to suck capital out of it to do other things. never reinvested in the steel furnaces of the company. then ultimately decided it made more sense to shut it down than to keep it running. youngstown was still profitable at the time it was shut down in 1979. but they started to do better by moving that capital elsewhere. increasingly, that's what we started to see. with that came new tools, and a new approach on wall street on how to run companies. the emergence of something new called private equity firms. there were giant pulls of capital in which partners would encourage people their pension funds to give them a big hunk of capital and promise big returns.
amassing the big capital that private equity leaders would buy up, break them apart and sell them. often, making a lot of money. but in the process, laying off a lot of people. a lot of this was accomplished by big borrowing. leverage buyouts were buyouts that happened when companies had to borrow a lot in order to buy a new companies. they often did it against the wishes of the management of the company's that were buying hostile takeovers. led to a phenomenon between 1987 and 1981. 1000f the u.s. fortune downsized, shedding about 5 million jobs. remember, we talked about the kelly girls. this from theer book on the kelly girl. the thing about the kelly girl
was that she was flexible, you could get rid of her. she was not an ongoing cost and increasingly, this idea started to represent more and more workers in corporate america. of thelining employment top 500 industrial corporations, they were all shrinking in these years. a final thing happened at the economy changed, and that was a new ideology started to gather strength in the country. what we could call neoliberalism. by far, the most influential figure was the nobel prize-winning economist. 1976, the nobel prize in milton friedman. milton friedman was a critic of the new deal. of governmentc regulation of liberalism and the union and basically believe that private markets, unleashed markets, unregulated markets were better at everything then
government was. and he became increasingly influential in the 1970's. he had a weekly column in newsweek. he authored a huge book called "free to choose." often making a it became a very influential book and it's time. so influential were ideas like his, that they also affected how democrats. it was under the carter that neoliberal ideas of deregulation first began to spread. airlines were deregulated in 1978, trucking in 1980. the banking industry in 1980 as well. the thing about airlines and trucking, they had been highly regulated before this. had a say in all of that. it was not necessarily great for consumers, and what friedman
argued that competition without regulation would lead to lower fares. that didn't happen until airlines started to consolidate. but what it really hurt was workers because under regulation, the companies were not competing so hard. they were able to protect their standards that became hard to do. so, a huge transformation was between 1968 and 1988 and the structure of the economy and how it works. that transformation had huge implications for working people. that's the private sector. and talkft it will but about government work, government employees. because the story was also a big turnabout in the situation that workers were facing. coming out of the 1960's, the public-sector union movement was surging.
inspired by things like the memphis sanitation strike. a 1970, postal workers engaged in a strike nationally. perhaps over 100,000 people participated in it, not delivering the mail. in effect, they one new won newion -- they legislation and the ability to bargain over things. public-sector unionism into the early 70's kept expanding. it was, in fact, growing. even as private-sector unionism was declining. this is the public sector and in fact, a greater percentage of public sector workers were in unions by the mid-70's than private sector workers.
but they ran into a brick wall in the mid-70's is of some of the economic changes i've mentioned to you. 1970 five was a real turning point for workers in the public sector. it was that year that the stagflation of the 70's really hit home in the place in new york city especially, where public workers had done the most to win rights, to bargain collectively, to improve their situation. suddenly, new york was in the middle of a crisis. think about it. when stagflation happened, that meant prices were soaring. that meant the price of everything including its own energy costs. the economy dipped, that meant tax revenue dipped. governments were paying more in bringing in less. what do you do? workers were caught in a vice. very quickly.
and the federal government refused to help new york. the mayor of the old to .resident jerry ford you're on your own, new york. you have made your bed, you got to find your own way to get out of it. what happened was that massive layoffs had to happen in new york. that caused a lot of turmoil. police, fire, sanitation workers were laid off. many of them engaged in protests as a result of that. police began distributing a leaflet called welcome to fear city at airports and the port authority. basically saying, we are being laid off here. maybe you want to think about going somewhere else on vacation. and trash began to pile up in the city. bitterness developed between
that havetor workers been more or less allied to them. by the mid-70's, there was clearly a problem. get out of therk crisis? in parts, the union did it. the teachers union and the cities largest municipal workers asked their leaders, the teachers union leaders. they used the union pension fund to buy municipal bonds that would help to keep the city afloat and it made it through the crisis. but everybody after that crisis new that things were different. be fary were going to more austere from that point going forward. that crisis also opened the door to a campaign that began to gather steam in the 70's. to privatize the public sector. the people who have been
calling for this for a while was peter drucker, one of the nation's premier economist who wrote a book called the age of discontinuity. it included a chapter that was called the sickness of government. thatally, what he said is there is mounting evidence that government is big rather than strong. it's too big. we need to downsize it. we need to take government to uses and find a way the markets to deliver them, privatize them. but just as industry was changing, so was pressure on government to change. how did public-sector workers deal with that? he did not like it one bit, because they knew that this pressure was coming after them, and they tried to push back against it in the late 70's. you could see that the number of strikes occurring in the country continued to grow in this. regime waserity
clamped down on workers, worker tries -- workers tried to push back against it. they were not getting much help from washington, either. reform, they wanted to the hatch act, a federal law that restricted what federal workers could do to be involved in politics. pass a civile to service reform act that would toe them the ability bargain, federal workers to bargain over pay. they were not allowed to do that. frustration was building. this really was something you could see when you look at the nation air traffic controllers. i ended up writing a book about this because i thought it was really a symbolically important group and what happened to them symbolized what was happening to many workers in this time. about this union briefly called the professional
air traffic controllers organization. up of men like this. this is a picture of air traffic controllers working on the radar's reign in 1960. this was taken in new york and a 11 at jfkl hangar where they used to monitor very old equipment going in and out of new york. it was in that hangar in 1960 that a terrible mistake was made because of the bad equipment. planes were routed toward each other to have a midair collision over new york, killing many. the workers involved in that effort said we have to end this. they had been complaining for a long time about the outdated nature of their equipment. that was the radar screen literally coming off of battleships. they were old-fashioned and not up to the task.
and these controllers had been complaining for years about the in this of their lives cartoon from their magazine from this time. two people who worked that day in 1960, mike rock and jack militaryey were both veterans, working-class guys are new york from the bronx. they banded together and said let's organize. and they started to form a union with the help of president innedy's executive order 1962. they eventually formed the union. but they could not really bargain with the federal government. they were not recognized initially, so they started to push back against what they felt were unsafe procedures i slowing , this is awork magazine picture in 1968 right after they formed the union.
something from operation air safety. howust went by the book of the instruction manual told them they should be working. that slowed everything down. they said we are not going to speed up until you improve our jobs. recognitionlly won of the union and their first this is their president meeting with richard nixon. here are some of the union leaders right after they formed their union. but over the course of the 1970's, they found that they were really unable to change things. that whenetermined their next contract expired which would be 1981, that they would strike if they had to to change the situation. these were buttons they had started to wear by 1980. they knew the contract will expire. i'm going, that means i'm going to strike. this is a headset the controllers used to wear.
they were ready to strike, strike a blow for unity. gotten no real help from the carter administration, decidedgambled and they to endorse carter's opponent in the 1980 election, ronald reagan. thought, and reagan wrote a letter that said i will help you if i'm elected. but once reagan was elected and they tried to negotiate with them, they found that they were not getting what they wanted. they actually did go on strike. 1981, they went out on strike in airports and control centers all over the country. about 11,000 of them. they basically froze air-traffic for some days. what reagan did is exactly what jackson has done in atlanta in 1977. he said you have 72 hours to return to work. if you don't come you're fired.
they did not return. they thought that the country could not possibly operate without them. and they were fired. and they were replaced. it took years to get the system back up to speed, but the government had the resources to do that. and it constituted a huge turning point. so, to bring this around to a close, a huge number of changes had occurred. the economy, the power of public sector workers, all of this had begun to change rapidly. by the 1980's and in the aftermath of the patco strike, you could see some important barometers were measuring danger for working people. after patco, workers in general found they could not strike effectively.
it was a federal strike, workers did not have a right to strike. but in the private sector, even where workers did have a right to strike, many employers don't like if the president can fire strikers, why don't we just replace them? and that is what began to happen. remember jack in the 1950 strikes, so common. a measure of working-class power and the ability of workers to get things from their employers. all of those strikes had happened with a precedent on the books that dated back to the 1930's that said it when workers strikes for higher wages, employers can lace them if you want. most employers did not do that for the 80's and all of those strikes in the 50's, there were very few efforts by employers to beat those strikes.
president started to be brought into effect. when copper miners went on strike in arizona, they faced replacement. the national guard was called out to break their strike. other strikes by meatpackers, international paper workers, greyhound bus drivers, they were all broken. and as workers saw strike after strike broken, you saw the number of workers and strikes sharply diminishing. as workers saw that they really did not have the power to strike anymore. that led to a second thing. when workers no longer had the power to force their employers to deal with them, what began to happen is that productivity and wages began to diverge. all through the postwar, workers were able to ensure that if they became more productive, their wages would rise with their productivity.
19 73, that began to change. productivity kept rising. compensation stagnated. workers did not have the power to force companies to do anything about that. and what did this lead to? post 1981 period saw increasing inequality, inequality that started to wreak of something that existed before the great depression. but had been diminishing since then. equality was on the rise. all of this happened in these turnabout years from 1968 to 1988. now just a final thought. i talked about the things that were happening in 1977. in atlanta, and youngstown. rural mexico, about three
hours from new york city, something else happened that year. boy named eduardo gutierrez was conceived. he would be born the following year. we will be reading about him and talking about him in the book we will be discussing when you return. and what we will see is that his family was starting to be affected by the same days, and these things with bringing to this country and how his story then intersects with the larger story is, i think something we will see that deeply speaks to us. thank you very much. [applause] >> listen to lectures on history on the go by streaming our podcast anywhere, anytime.
you're watching american history tv, only on c-span3. before we move on to the supreme court, can i just say, the 10 topics are what you really need to know, and here we go. write them down. federalism, public opinion, participation, political parties, interest groups, campaigns and elections, congress, the president, and courts. those are the big 10. the entire test covers those 10 topics. preparing a student for the advanced placement united states government and politics exam? don't miss your chance to be part of washington journal annual cram for the exam program on saturday may for at 9 a.m. eastern for live discussion with high school government teachers. >> our question is about its significance. >> that is what of those words are students struggle with.
it's a concept of vote trading. the idea is that you're trying to get a big ill past, and a lot of times it helps to have some wood pro quote. project, if you add that one, you will get more support. announcer: watch the annual "cram for the exam" on saturday may for on c-span. >> we are in rochester, minnesota were c-span is learning that city history. up next, we take you to the heights to learn how the work of the sisters of st. francis led to the founding of the clinic. >> sisters of st. francis do have a strong mission. it is included when they came to rochester, education and health care and social work. the wonderful about the francisco sisters