AFL-CIO Secretary - Treasurer Lane Kirkland warned the Carter administration yesterday it is risking a breach of its recent accord with labor if it lets the Federal Reserve Board's credit-tightening efforts jeopordize social needs such as housing and urban development.
Kirkland, who is in line to succeed AFL-CIO President George Meany next month, told reporters the Fed's recent credit crackdown was the "wrong move at the wrong time" and said it would not succeed in curbing inflation.
Unless the administration adopts "specific measures" to "shelter areas of great social need from the chill winds of tight and expensive money," said Kirkland, the AFL-CIO will consider the money-tightening move as "contrary to the spirit of the accord."
However, Kirkland said he believes the adminstration will live up to its commitment not to fight inflation at the price of jobs and social programs and said President Carter bolstered himself with labor by the accord and a strongly pro-labor speech last week to the AFL-CIO building trades.
The accord, working out by the White House last month to repair its tattered relations with organized labor, paved the way for union participation on a wage advisory committee designed to win voluntary labor and business support for anti-inflation restraints. The committee will hold its first meeting today.
Kirkland's comments -- conveyed in an interview that revealed few departures from Meany's national and international policies -- came as Kirkland's only potential rival for the federation presidency bowed out.
J.C. Turner, president of the operating engineers union, issued a statement saying he was dropping any further consideration of running after meeting with Meany and ascertaining first hand that Kirkland was Meany's choice as successor.
Earlier, Turner, expressing the belief that Meany was neutral, said he was considering challenging Kirkland and had pledges of one-third or more of the votes at the federation's biennial convention here next month. But many union presidents discounted the prospects of a serious challenge, saying that the ailing 85-year-old Meany wanted Kirkland and would make his desire known in due time.
Turner's decision apparently clears the way for a harmonious anoitment of Kirkland, leaving only the secretary-treasurer's job in doubt. Kirkland said yesterday that both Thomas R. Donahue, now Meany's executive assistant, and plumbers union president Martin J. Ward were "acceptable" to him, although he was not sure Ward is a candidate. Kirkland reportedly has told colleagues that Donahue is his choice.
In the interview, Kirkland -- his slow drawl and chain-smoking from a cigarette holder presenting a sharp contrast to the cigar-chomping, blunt Meany -- nonetheless showed himself a loyal disciple of Meany's hard-line approach to the Soviet Union.
Only if the Kremlin agrees to open emigration from the Soviet Union would he abandon his opposition to letting their labor delegations into this country, he said.