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Historian and Labor Scholar Receives Book Award

Joseph McCartin

Joseph McCartin

June 18, 2012 – Princeton University has awarded Georgetown history professor Joseph McCartin with its Richard A. Lester Award for the 2011 Outstanding Book in Industrial Relations and Labor Economics.

McCartin, also director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown, received the award for Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike that Changed America (Oxford University Press, 2011). The book explores the impact of President Reagan’s decision to fire members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) after the organization called an illegal strike.

“I had several purposes for writing this book, but one of them was to look at the history of American laborers who work for the government the PATCO strike is connected with this moment,” he says, referring to a Wisconsin law that recently eliminated collective bargaining rights for public employees.

The law, backed by Gov. Scott Walker, led to a two-week occupation of the state capitol by protesters and a recall election, in which the Republican governor received another term.

McCartin’s Lester Award is named for the late labor economics and industrial relations scholar Richard Lester, a Princeton alumnus and professor. The award is presented each year for a book that makes the most original and important contributions toward understanding the problems of industrial relations, labor market policies and the evolution of labor.

“What’s gratifying about this award is that it comes from economists,” says McCartin, a noted historian. “I think historians and economists tend to talk past each other a lot of the times, so it’s good when we can recognize each other’s work.”

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