Not long after he was elected in 1980, President Reagan was confronted by a militant public employees union that put the nation's commercial air travel in jeopardy by striking.
Reagan responded by giving the striking members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) 48 hours to return to work or be fired. When the smoke cleared two days later, more than 11,000 of the striker were handed pink slips.
Go here for the History Channel's audio clip of Reagan delivering his ultimatum to PATCo. Go here for a detailed history of a short-lived strike that provided Reagan with an opportunity to demonstrate to all, including the Soviets, that he meant business.