ReaganWhile it may go without saying, there’s probably no President in American history more reviled by worker advocates than Ronald Reagan.

So in what can only be seen as a gross insult to the American labor movement and workers who have fought — and often died —  to protect the rights and lives of working people in this country, Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta today named Reagan to the U.S. Department of Labor Hall of Honor.

This can only be seen as a gross insult to the American labor movement and workers who have fought — and often died —  to protect the rights and lives of working people in this country

That would be the same Hall of Honor that honors Senator Ted Kennedy, the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers (“I am a Man”), Cesar Chavez, Bayard Rustin, A. Philip Randolph, Frances Perkins and many others who were actual champions of workers.

And that would be the same Ronald Reagan, for those of you who were just born yesterday, who is best known in labor circles as the President who broke the 1981 PATCO strike, by firing over 11,000 air traffic controllers, and inviting American business to declare war on the labor movement, and war that continues to this day. Reagan was also no friend to workplace safety, cutting enforcement, launching anti-regulatory campaigns that seem familiar today, and appointing 35 year old construction executive Thorne Auchter to head OSHA:
One of Auchter’s first actions was straight out of Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury’s classic named after the temperature at which a book will burn.) The Reagan administration began the day before the recently issued Cotton Dust standard was heard at the Supreme Court. For the business community, the cotton dust standard was symbolic of all that was wrong with Eula Bingham’s OSHA, and government regulation in general.
Louis Harrell and Ronald Reagan
A week after his arrival, Auchter was shocked to find that the cover of an OSHA publication on Cotton Dust displayed a photograph by Earl Dotter of a cotton dust victim, Louis Harrell. Auchter, believing the cover to be inflammatory, ordered the remaining publications destroyed and reissued the document with no photo on the cover.
Ironically, the Labor Hall of Fame was created in 1988, during the Reagan Administration “to honor Americans whose distinctive contributions have elevated working conditions, wages, and overall quality of life for American families.”  Acosta’s justification for today’s announcement is that Reagan was the only American president to be president of labor union — the Screen Actors Guild in the 1940s and 1950s.

Is this Trump getting back at the AFL-CIO’s Rich Trumka and Thea Lee for resigning from his Manufacturing Council? Who knows? It’s a mystery.

So what’s next?  What could be crazier? The President announcing that Nazis and White Power terrorists are very fine people?


9 thoughts on “Acosta Names Ronald Reagan to Labor Hall of Honor”
  1. Why did you not mention that this sonofabitch informed on his own members to the House UnAmerican Activities Commission when he was President of SAG? Fuck Reagan.

  2. Maybe DOL should adopt the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s voting process.

    Have a media representative from each OSHA area office convene on the day before the Super Bowl, go through painstaking argument and debate behind closed doors, until 75 or 80% of voters approve the finalists for induction. The whole country could then have spirited debates about who merits induction — Dr. Michaels, yourself, Reagan, Trumka, Elaine Chao, Hilda Solis, Ed Foulke, Cain and Abel (the bloggers, not the biblical figures), and others.

    Then televise the induction ceremony all on ESPN2, with the inductees wearing garish blazers and making too-long speeches. Think of the ratings, J.B., think of the ratings!!

  3. I talked with the current president of PATCO re the Reagan installation at the Hall of Honor (Yes, it still exists, as part of of OPEIU). At least his caustic comments were printable in a family newspaper. DOL didn’t return a call asking for their comments on PATCO or on Reagan’s red-baiting. And SAG-AFTRA declined to comment. Ironically, Acosta’s announcement came on the day the current SAG-AFTRA president was re-elected.
    If you want to see the story let me know.
    Mark Gruenberg
    Press Associates Union News Service

      1. Pasted in, in response to Mr Tulloh’s request, is the story as we published it in Press Associates Union News Service. MARK GRUENBERG
        Press Associates, Inc. (PAI) — 9/1/2017

        By Mark Gruenberg
        PAI Staff Writer

        WASHINGTON (PAI)—GOP President Donald Trump and his Labor Secretary, Alexander Acosta, may think naming Ronald Reagan to the agency’s Labor Hall of Honor is a good idea.

        Ron Taylor doesn’t. He says the move will turn the exhibit in DOL’s lobby into a “Hall of Shame.” And he should know.

        Taylor, you see, is the president of PATCO – the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, the remnant of the union Reagan decimated with a mass firing when the controllers were forced to strike over safety issues, in 1981.

        And Taylor, then youthful and starting his careers, is one of those fired controllers, himself.

        “Ronald Reagan is a liar,” Taylor said in a telephone interview with Press Associates Union News Service. “He promised to address the safety issues” the PATCO members raised. But in August 1981, Reagan fired them instead.

        Reagan’s Federal Aviation Administration forced the 14,000 controllers to strike over safety. For almost all, their lives were ruined, Taylor says. “It wasn’t just a 2-day gig. We were banned for life,” he adds. Even Democratic President Bill Clinton’s amnesty more than a decade later didn’t help many.

        But while Acosta’s announcement angers Taylor, it doesn’t surprise him.

        “Anything coming out of the White House with Donald Trump in it is just as bad as Reagan was,” says Taylor, whose current PATCO is a sector of the Office and Professional Employees International Union.

        Press Associates, Inc. (PAI) – 9/1/2017
        (REAGAN, cont. -2)

        He also said his former controller colleagues rang up to tell him “this is absurd.”

        “I can’t stop it,” Taylor admits about the pro-Reagan DOL ceremony. “But there should be a true message coming out of the DOL. This is a deliberate slap” against unions “by the current administration.”

        The key reason, Taylor says, is that “Reagan opened the way for private, and now public, sector workers to be attacked” by companies and now governments – a conclusion virtually all histories of labor and the Reagan era back.

        Acosta announced the addition of Reagan to the Hall of Honor during a late-August ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. He gave no date for the induction.

        “President Reagan is the only president of the United States to have led a major union. President Reagan’s membership in the Labor Hall of Honor recognizes his accomplishments as a labor leader,” Acosta said.

        Acosta cited Reagan’s leadership of the Screen Actors Guild “in its first three strikes” which won “residual payments and health and pension benefits,” among other first-ever gains, for members. Acosta also praised Reagan for supporting the Polish trade union Solidarnosc, whose leadership there eventually contributed – after repression and crackdowns – to collapse of the Soviet bloc, and the end of the Cold War.

        But Acosta left a few things out, as did the Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York City, which calls itself an independent union and which sent the nomination to DOL. One was the PATCO strike.

        Another was Reagan’s record, also as SAG president, in the red-baiting and destruction of careers of so-called “Communists” and leftist unions during the Joe McCarthy era.

        The spokesman for the sergeants promised to contact its president for comment about why his union named Reagan and why it left out PATCO, but the president did not respond.

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