In a boost for Democratic presidential hopeful Walter Mondale, the AFL-CIO's Executive Council announced in Boston that the labor federation will endorse a presidential candidate in October instead of December. The move is seen largely as a result of growing political pressures by supporters of the former vice-president, who is the federation's leading candidate.
Nevertheless, the traditionally Democratic AFL-CIO is much less hopeful about defeating President Reagan than it was a few months ago, Monitor correspondent Ed Townsend writes. The economy's steady improvement has undercut labor's arguments for change. The Executive Council pointed out that the recent drop in unemployment to 9.5 percent, encouraging as it might be, still left 18 million workers jobless, working part time, or unemployed and too discouraged even to look for work. The council said that many of the jobless can have little hope of getting their jobs back unless older, basic industries are revitalized.
Supported by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts, the AFL-CIO proposes a national industrial policy that would link government, industry, and labor in a program to modernize old plants and to develop new technologically advanced indusries. Senator Kennedy, who appeared before the council, expects to introduce industrial redevelopment legislation in Congress this fall.
Some top union officials say privately that the AFL-CIO's big problem is to find substantial new issues to raise at a time when the improving economy is boosting the President's public popularity. Labor is now talking more about the plight of 34.4 million Americans -- 15 percent of the population -- living at what the government calls a poverty level.