Labor may jump Carter ship if anti-inflation program fails
Organized labor, angry over President Carter's new anti-inflation program, is reviewing its part in a Carter administration-backed "national accord" on a voluntary wage-restraints program.
The President's austere anti-inflation plan also could chill, at least temporarily, a new warmth in relations between the AFL-CIO and the White House that has developed since Lane Kirkland became president of the 13.6 -million-member federation last November.
Mr. Carter retains strong union support for renomination. But if, as organized labor's economists predict, the President's anti-inflation program triggers higher unemployment, a recession, and higher living costs for workers, this already somewhat reluctant union support for Mr. Carter could quickly dissipate.
"Our confidence in the administration's commitment has been placed in serious doubt," Mr. Kirkland said shortly after the President announced his anti-inflation program. The plan relies heavily on budget cuts and a higher gasoline price, both strongly opposed by unions.
The "commitment" to which Mr. Kirkland referred was Mr. Carter's pledge to organized labor that all elements in the economy would share equally in the burden of any anti-inflation program if unions would participate in a "national accord" on restraints. Mr. Kirkland was instrumental in drafting the plan that created an 18-member committee of organized labor, business, and academic representatives to advice the administration on inflation problems. A labor walkout would doom the "national accord," which has had only minor success so far.
Douglas A. Fraser, president of the United Auto Workers and also a member of the advisory committee, went further than Mr. Kirkland, denouncing the Carter austerity program is "Herbert Hooverism resurrected." Mr. Fraser supports Sen. Edward M. Kennedy for the Democratic presidential nomination.