Organized labor, pretty much cowed by Ronald Reagan during the campaign and since, now is beginning to lash out at the President. Thomas Donahue, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, sums up labor's growing unhappiness with Mr. Reagan this way: "I think the Reagan administration is scornful of organized labor. . . . I'm afraid what Reagan is doing is dividing people more than we had ever imagined would happen."
In a breakfast meeting with reporters Aug. 26, Mr. Donahue stopped short of calling the President a "union buster" in the dispute with the controllers. "After all," he said, "Reagan was once a union president."
Donahue called Reagan's relations with labor leaders "restricted and highly selective."
He said that both presidents Ford and Carter had done much more to see that there were "frequent and substantive contacts" with organized labor.
He said that in terms of frequency, Reagan's contacts with labor leaders have been about "10 to 15 percent" of President Ford's. "In terms of substantive contacts," he said, it's "less than 10 percent."
Donahue said that organized labor had a superb relationship with the Carter administration "in terms of both frequent and substantive direct contacts on all the issues that affected us. . . . We quarreled with some of Carter's decision, " he said, "but we were continually being brought in for discussions."
Donahue said that "never in my span of knowledge" had any president remained so aloof from organized labor. He said the administration seemed to be saying, "We speak for the workers and don't need to talk to the labor leaders about anything."
he agreed that "a large minority, some 44 percent" of the blue-collar workers voted for Reagan last November. But "as workers see the price they are paying for having Reagan in as President," he said, "they are moving away from him in substantial numbers."