Strikes in spaaace!


Great moments in labor history I was unaware of: did you know the Skylab astronauts went on strike?

Then it turns out that NASA is a bad boss.

More details here; the eventual outcome was that NASA never let any member of that mutinous crew fly into space again. (NASA isn’t alone, since Arianespace also has a messy labor history.)

Comments

  1. says

    the eventual outcome was that NASA never let any member of that mutinous crew fly into space again. (NASA isn’t alone, since Arianespace also has a messy labor history.)

    All of which is simply the cherry of the massive cake of evidence we are much too immature to be playing at being space explorers.

  2. psanity says

    re: “neoliberal”
    I was a bit startled to see it in that context, but after a moment’s thought, I think it’s exactly right.

    Old-fashioned liberal: “These workers are objecting to obviously unreasonable working conditions.”

    Conservative: “These rabble are a bunch of damn commies who won’t take orders!”

    Neoliberal: “These subordinates are a bunch of lazy jerks who won’t take orders — well, maybe they’re depressed, but surely that’s their problem?”

  3. says

    Oh, yes. I don’t think it was covered at the time on the news, but the book A House in Space by Henry S.F. Cooper Jr (great name!) published only a few years later covered it, and I read about it then. The entire experience is one of the reasons that the ISS has windows and the crew has goofing off time programmed into their schedules. So NASA learnt something, in contrast to our corporate overlords.

  4. psanity says

    Also, thanks, PZ, for this oddly cheering story, which was very welcome after reading this bit of news from the Scientists Confirm Stuff We Already Kind Of Knew Department. Now I’m inspired to face the day.

    Workers of the world unite! To Infinity, and beyond!

  5. jrkrideau says

    There is a reason Henry Ford went to a 40 hour week. You can do 16 hour days for a while but errors accumulate and the possibility of deadly mistakes rises dramatically.

  6. edmond says

    I guess I don’t know about this “neoliberalism”. I feel like I’m as liberal as they come, and I would never consider pushing people past their limits for 16 hours a day, in a work environment that can literally suck the brains out of everyone’s head if just one person screws up. This is some new super-liberal approach to morale and productivity? This is reducible to partisan politics, just because… what, it’s NASA?

  7. brett says

    Erik Loomis did a pretty good write-up of the Skylab strike too.

    But yeah, NASA basically took the stance that these were astronauts and they should do what they’re told in space, even if it was brutally exhausting. Then when they balked, they got away with being vindictive about it because competition to get into space at all for astronaut-candidates is strong, and there’s always far more candidates than spots.

    @NelC

    The entire experience is one of the reasons that the ISS has windows and the crew has goofing off time programmed into their schedules. So NASA learnt something, in contrast to our corporate overlords.

    I’m glad they did. It’s smart, too, both for personnel and because when astronauts do a workplace occupation strike, they can do it in the most expensive-to-run workplace there is.

  8. Zeppelin says

    @edmond: The “liberal” in “neoliberal” refers to economic liberalism. And it’s neo-liberal in contrast to traditional 19th century-style free market economics. It’s got nothing to do with the US political party.

  9. robro says

    jrkrideau @ #6

    There is a reason Henry Ford went to a 40 hour week.

    Didn’t unions have something to do with it? I don’t know, but my father, who was a staunch union member, seemed to think so.

  10. robro says

    Re “neoliberal” — Oddly I was reading the Wikipedia articles about neoliberal, classic laissez-faire liberalism, Milton Friedman, August Pinochet, etc. recently. An English friend was defining “classical liberalism” to me recently and it sounded a lot like American conservativism. I want to use it to have fun with the “liberal haters” in my family.

  11. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    @Edmond
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism

    Easy mistake to make

    Easily avoidable mistake on the part of the label-selectors, but progressives by and large are apparently addicted to adopting terminology that is guaranteed to be misunderstood by anyone unfamiliar with it, so here we are again.

  12. NYC atheist says

    @13 Azkyroth
    I disagree. I think it’s exactly the word for the concept it describes. Liberalism is much broader than American leftism. For instance, I think almost every US president has been a liberal of one stripe or another, with the exceptions of Jackson and Trump. Maybe I’m missing some, but those two sure do stand out.

    I blame the Rush Limbaughs of the world for giving liberal it’s polarizing connotations.

  13. Kreator says

    Ichthyic @ #15:

    it isn’t some sociological jargon. it’s real, it’s been studied for decades, and it’s the single biggest factor in why we are so fucked right now.

    Seriously; I was taught about the neoliberal model in high school, about 20 years ago. I wonder if it has anything to do with not living in the USA… I don’t find it hard to believe that American schools would gloss over that information, as I tentatively infer from your first article.

  14. rietpluim says

    Where I live, most liberals on this blog would be considered social-democrats, or maybe even socialists. I really had to get used to the term applied to myself.

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