AFL-CIO leans left as it shuns Reagan
The AFL-CIO faces a future of stronger political action, expanded organizing and education efforts among workers, and a general shift to the left in its politics.
At the opening of its second century, the federation will be less conservative - many of its leaders talk, happily or otherwise, of a turn toward the left - and more active, both in this country and internationally.
President Lane Kirkland, one-time merchant marine officer, will guide the federation on courses of his own choice, not those inherited from George Meany two years ago. The office and power of the presidency are his and, at least for now, he has no serious challenges in his executive council.
The convention's only excitement was kindled by attacks on the Reagan administration and its policies. Because of its strong opposition to President Reagan, the AFL-CIO is more alienated from the government than at any time in the last half-century. And its affiliates are more solidly in support of AFL-CIO leadership than it has been in years.
Alienation from the government has increased the federation's interest in coalitions with nonlabor organizations, including some with a left-wing orientation, which makes conservatives uncomfortable. However, the AFL-CIO feels a need for these groups, along with others, as it seeks to build the strongest possible coalition to elect more liberal candidates in 1982 and a Democratic administration in 1984.
Toward that end, the federation will spend an additional $6.5 million yearly on political action and public relations.
Expanded organizing is another major objective. But perhaps even more important, AFL-CIO intends to seek to regain the loyalty of union members. It estimates that 44 to 48 percent of them voted for Ronald Reagan last year and many still support him