Protesters Call Reagan’s Induction Into Labor Hall Of Honor A Shame

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

"What’s a crying shame? Ronald Reagan in the hall of fame!” chanted two dozen American Federation of Government Employee (AFGE) members and supporters on an impromptu picket line March 1 outside the U.S. Labor Department.

The picketers braved wind and rain to protest the former Republican president’s induction into the Hall of Honor alongside labor giants like Frances Perkins, FDR’s Labor Secretary and the first female Cabinet member, and Cesar Chavez, the legendary United Farm Workers co-founder and leader.

“Reagan was a disgrace,” said one Department of Labor employee. “The union movement suffered because of him.” “What he did to worker safety and health standards was abysmal,” said another.

Protesters took turns leading chants, and one AFGE member even impersonated the former president, asking GOP Trump administration Labor Secretary Alex Acosta to “take my name off this wall!”

DOL political appointees named Reagan to the hall, which is not to be confused with Labor’s Hall of Fame elsewhere. The citation conveniently mentioned Reagan’s presidency of the Screen Actors Guild, where he played two prominent roles. One was getting good contracts for SAG members. The other was “singing” about alleged Communists in the entertainment industry during the witch-hunting McCarthy era. His plaque cites only the first.

It also does not mention Reagan is known for firing the Air Traffic Controllers in 1981 after they struck over unsafe work conditions. The PATCO strike left up to 14,000 people without jobs and, more importantly, gave a green light to corporate chieftains to declare war upon workers and unions, which they have waged ever since.

All that prompted former Obama administration Occupational Safety and Health Administration Deputy Secretary Jordan Barab, a fiormer union safety and health official, to include the Reagan induction in what he called “Kill the Labor Movement Week,” following the Feb. 26 U.S. Supreme Court hearing on the Janus case, which would make every state and local government worker a potential “free rider.”

“Inducting Reagan into the Labor Hall of Honor is equivalent to inducting Colonel Sanders into the Poultry Hall of Honor,” Barab said.

“An e-mail from Bryan Slater, DOL’s Assistant Secretary for Administration, inviting all DOL employees to attend the ceremony,” cites Reagan’s SAG leadership, Barab noted. “Not one mention of fired air traffic controllers, nor any fond memories of destroying OSHA’s cotton dust publications because the cover displayed a photo of a worker with brown lung disease, nor any mention of Reagan devastating OSHA’s enforcement program.”  

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Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Human Service Workers at Persad Center Vote to Join the USW

From the USW

Workers at Persad Center, a human service organization that serves the LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS communities of the Pittsburgh area, voted last week to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

The unit of 24 workers, ranging from therapists and program coordinators to case managers and administrative staff, announced their union campaign as the Persad Staff Union last month and filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

“We care about our work and the communities we serve,” said Johanna Smith, Persad’s Development, Communications, and Events Associate. “We strongly believe this work and our connections to our clients will only improve now that we will be represented by a union.”

The Persad workers join the growing number of white-collar professionals organizing with the USW, especially in the Pittsburgh region. Their membership is also in line with the recent work the Steelworkers have been doing to engage LGBTQ+ members and improve contract language regarding issues that affect their lives.

“Workplaces are changing and evolving, and the labor movement is changing and evolving along with that,” said USW Vice President Fred Redmond, who oversees the union’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee as well as the USW Health Care Workers Council. “This campaign gives us an opportunity to diversify our great union while uplifting and empowering a group of workers who give their all for others.”

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work