As far as organized labor is concerned, there will be three separate Reagan administration taking office later this month: one it likes, one it loathes and one it feels it can live with.
On purely labor matters, the nation's major unions already have begun to circle the wagons in preparations for attack from both Reagan and the new Republican Senate. In the areas of economics and foreign policy, however, organized labor views the incoming administration with mixed emotion.
Prospects of a new, hard-line foreign policy, for example to be basically in line with the foreign policy stance of the AFL-CIO since its creation more than a quarter century ago. And federation officials are quick to point out that AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland was one of the founders of the Committee for the Present Danger, the group of conservative Democrats and Republicans pushing for greater defense spending and a generally more hawkish foreign policy.
In the economic area, labor knows from long experience it will have to be consulted if the White House hopes to bring about effective policy changes, particularly in its efforts to deal with inflation.
Labor's major concern is an expected conservative assault on laws that have become holy to the trade union movement -- laws such as the Davis-Bacon Act requiring prevailing wage rates on federal construction projects and the immunity granted unions under federal anti-trust statutes.
The Reagan administration also will be a personal test for Kirkland who is in his first term as president of the federation. The late George Meany, Kirkland's predecessor, was a proven master at dealing with Congress and the White House even during hostile administrations. It was this ability that served to keep Meany's trade union critics at bay throughout his years as the head of the AFL-CIO. How Kirkland deals with the incoming administration is apt to determine his own future power within the labor movement.
The fear of attack is primarily focused on the new Republican majority in the Senate. This was best stated by Robert Georgine, president of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department, in his annual message to the membership:
"We were not successful in the 1980 elections. But we have always worked closely with the president of the United States to assist him in his efforts to promote programs which are in the best interests of our country and its working people. However, there lies in the Senate of the United States and, to a somewhat lesser degree in the House of Reprsentatives, a potential threat to all existing statutes which protect labor unions and the working men and women of this nation. It is in this arena that our apprehension is most acute."
Georgine's concern was echoed by the United Steelworkers President Lloyd McBride, who warned last month that union members must realize "that there are those in this nation who would wrench (union gains) from us, were we not viligant enough in holding onto and improving them."
Labor's fears in the Senate basically center around Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the new chairman of the Labor and Human Resources Committee. Hatch has been an outspoken foe of much of labor's legislative program and served as a leader of the successful Senate opposition to the labor law reform proposal pushed by the unions during the Carter administration. In addition to the more parochial labor issues, the Senate committee also overseas much of the nation's social-welfare legislation.
The concern over the Hatch chairmanship is not confined to labor. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) gave up his seat as the ranking Democrat on the Senate-Judiciary Committee so he could become the ranking minority member on the labor and human relations committee, where he could keep an eye on Hatch and other Senate conservatives.
At least some within the labor movement are counting on Reagan and his economic advisers to keep antilabor conservatives at bay in the Senate. Reagan economic advisers have warned the new president that labor's cooperation is needed to help stabalize the economy. Therefore, they argue, the White House will have to work to hold off any frontal attacks on labor at least the first year or two of the new administration.
Kirkland, in a year-end interview with reporters, insisted he does not allow sentiment to get in the way of doing business when it comes to dealing with either Congress or the White House. "My approach to politics and political life in the process of government isn't based on sentiment," he said. "It's based on a realistic appraisal of what we learn to do to properly represent our people."
The AFL-CIO leader noted that organized labor will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year and somehow has managed to survive. "We've been through a great many different administrations and a great many different philosophies of government, and we've survived," Kirkland said.
Part of labor's survival this year appears to be a move for reunification within its own ranks. There have been rumblings that the United Auto Workers union, already under siege from the shrinking of the nation's auto market, may soon come back to the AFL-CIO in an effort to protect itself. And Kirkland is continuing his courtship of the Teamsters in an effort to get him back into the federation.