RONALD REAGAN, UNION MAN

“That draft-dodger will never fight in my state, period.”
California governor Ronald Reagan supposedly said this when Muhammad Ali was attempting to return to the ring.

In an earlier blog, I mentioned in an ironic, sarcastic way, that Ronald Reagan was a ‘union man’:

As for fuel conservation, here’s President Carter’s energy conservation speech of 1977. It certainly didn’t help with his re-election, and the solar panels he put up on the roof of the White House were taken down by the Gipper, Ronald Reagan, President of the Screen Actors Guild (a big union man, clearly).

So here is a little about Reagan’s time as seven-time president of the Screen Actors Guild of America, including during the awful and staining House Committee on Un-American Activities hearings and the shameful blacklisting of Hollywood talent for communist or alleged communist ties.


One-time New Deal and FDR supporter and president of the Screen Actors Guild Ronald Reagan testifies before the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

From the Screen Actors Guild themselves:

[Reagan] would serve a total of seven presidential terms, including six one-year terms elected by the membership in November 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951 and 1959. Issues—Guild, national, and international—during Reagan’s presidencies and board terms, 1946-1960, were among the most vast and complicated in the Guild’s history…

[Reagan oversaw] the Guild’s first three strikes (1952-53, 1955, and 1960); the first residuals for filmed television programs; first residuals for films sold to television; and the creation of the pension and health plan.

Pension and health plan! What? Handouts! Aaagh! Socialism!


Health plan, indeed. Well, for some, anyway.

Of course, in 1981, as President of the United States, he set a different sort of precedent when he fired over 11,000 (ostensibly illegally) striking Air Traffic Control Workers, for not returning to work within 48 hours of his order.

According to Labor Law Professor Charles Craver at George Washington University, in an article in the Baltimore Sun:

“The biggest thing that that [mass firing] did was it sent a message to the private employer community that it would be all right to go up against the unions. Whether he intended to do that, I don’t know.”

From Gary Chaison, industrial relations professor at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, in the same article:

I do think that Reagan showed the labor movement how important it is to have a friend in the White House and how vulnerable the labor movement can be if they have someone who’s not a friend because there were no labor law reforms passed, the minimum wage laws were not changed, foreign competition grew tremendously and ate away union jobs.”

Either way, given his two different positions—President of the Screen Actors Guild, by definition pro-Union, and the President of the United States, by most people who talk of Reagan’s two terms, strongly anti-union—what is clear is that Ronald Reagan was a truly natural political being.

As for the mention of having friends in high political places, I did some independent interviews with people from different countries at the World Labour Congress in Vancouver last year. While there, I was told that British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell had been asked to speak at the Conference, but declined. I don’t actually know the details, but if true, that speaks volumes. Imagine the climate when the Premier of British Columbia, regardless of his political stance, can’t find a way or even a good spin to celebrate workers in general. After all, workers have only built the province and its economy.

On route to the G-20 in Toronto, Argentinian leader Cristina Kirchner took time out to stop in Vancouver and give a greatly appreciated talk. What does that say?

Anyway, a little trivia: Ronald Reagan, Union Man for the ages. Now if only he’d kept those solar panels up. And it sure is a shame about the massive expansion of his country’s debt while he was leader. And Central America was brutalized. Ah, who am I kidding, so were unions. Yet through it all he made Americans feel good about themselves. Now that’s talent.

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