Relations between the AFL-CIO and President Reagan's secretary of labor, Raymond J. Donovan, have deteriorated quickly in the new administration, in part because of a failure of communication, but perhaps more because of differences of concepts about the role of the Cabinet office.
Organized labor believes that the labor secretary should be its defender and advocate in the federal government. According to AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland, Mr. Donovan does not "reflect a thorough appreciation of the statutory role [of his office] to advance the interests of the working people."
Denunciations of the labor secretary were the strongest in many years when AFL-CIO's executive council met in Baltimore last week, Monitor labor correspondent Ed Townsend reports. Mr Donovan was charged with "deeply disturbing" actions in enforcing the Occupational Safety and Health Act, for failing to consult with unions "before taking steps that go to the heart of our concerns," and for the failing to fight strongly enough for worker interests in the 1982 budget battle in Congress.
Poor relations with Secretary Donovan have added to the troubles between organized labor and the White House. Some members of the council talked bitterly of prospects for "a four-year fight" with the Reagan administration, accused of "pu tting dollars before people."