“There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.”
Long before he was famous for his abrupt and verbally stingy one-liners, Calvin Coolidge’s best known quote was this one, and we forget it at our peril. The line probably made him President: its context was the Boston police force strike of 1919. Coolidge, then Governor of Massachusetts, sided against the strikers, who despite legitimate demands for better pay and working conditions, lost their jobs. The next generation of Boston police officers, mostly hired from the ranks of veterans of World War I, got the benefits the strikers sought.
Coolidge’s sentiment is still valid, though unpopular, as ever, with organized labor and public servant unions. It was the philosophical and historical basis for President Ronald Reagan’s firing of the striking air traffic controllers during his first term, despite stong public sympathy for their stand. Like the Boston Police in 1919, they also lost their jobs for ever.
12,000 nurses in Minnesota Nurses Association are eligible to vote today on a potential indefinite strike. Continue reading