“A free labor movement is essential to the preservation and expansion of free enterprise.” That’s what President Reagan wrote in a letter dated November 12, 1985. As president of the screen actors guild, he led a successful union strike. As governor of California, he supported the rights of government workers to unionize and bargain collectively. But in the early days of his presidency, he decided to break a strike by the air traffic controllers union. A labor historian describes the unique circumstances behind Reagan’s confrontation with PATCO and the consequences for American workers and politics.