In his first Labor Day message from the White House, President Reagan said yesterday that his economic policies will create millions of new jobs by 1986.
"Let me make our goal in this program very clear: jobs, jobs, jobs and more jobs," the president said in a statement released yesterday by the White House and immediately disputed by labor leaders, who said his economic policies were hurting American workers and actually cost 1.25 million jobs.
"I see the creation of 3 million more jobs by 1986, in addition to the 10 million already expected. I see an era in which wage earners will be taking home more money in real dollars and an era in which fewer of us will be looking for work.
"Our policy has been and will continue to be: What is good for the American worker is good for America," Reagan said.
The president did not outline where the 3 million new jobs would be created, but expressed confidence that his budget cuts and tax cuts would lead to a new age of the American worker, "an age in which all of us again are free to prosper."
He cited one example: "This recent legislation passed by the Congress as part of our economic recovery plan makes it possible for American workers currently participating in company pension plans to expand this coverage with their own individual retirement plan.
"This is only one of the many new exciting possibilities opened for American workers; all of us must take advantage of the incentives for savings, investment and hard work that have been restored. I urge American workers, who traditionally saved to make their families secure, to do so again . . . I urge American workers to save and invest because I believe that when our economic program takes full effect Americans again will be rewarded for working extra hours or assuming more responsibility."
But in Labor Day speeches and in network interviews keyed to the annual celebration, which this year seemed to be more subdued than usual, AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland and Kenneth T. Blaylock, president of the American Federation of Government Employes, accused Reagan of turning back the clock on labor's gains in the last 50 years.
CBS officials considered Kirkland's message to be too sharply political to allow it to be broadcast as a free public service over CBS Radio Network, a provision often made in the past for prominent union leaders.
"The AF of L-CIO statement presented to us on Labor Day this year is devoted, almost entirely, to an attack on the national administration and its policies," said Robert Hoskins, CBS Radio Division president.
"Since we do not permit our public service time to be a forum for points of view on controversial issues, we will not be able to present the address submitted to us by Lane Kirkland," Hoskins said.
Kirkland, in his speech, accused the Reagan administration of trying to "conceal the radical character of its program" to cut taxes and domestic spending "by claiming the support of those who would suffer the most from its execution."
The AFL-CIO leader reiterated that charge yesterday in an appearance on the television interview show "Face the Nation" (CBS, WDVM).
Kirkland said on the show that Reagan has snubbed the labor federation, has refused to seek or consider its views on economic policy matters, and has "established the fact that he's hard-fisted" in dealing with persons like the 12,000 striking air traffic controllers whom Reagan fired Aug. 5 after they spurned his back-to-work order in an illegal strike.
"What remains to be established is where's the rest of him, where's the heart," said Kirkland, who urged Reagan to bring about a "decent resolution" of the strike that the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization began Aug. 3.
The president did not mention the air traffic controllers in his nearly 2 1/2-page message. That issue was left to Labor Secretary Raymond J. Donovan, who, on "Issues and Answers" (ABC, WJLA), reasserted the administration's position that "there will be no amnesty" for the controllers.
"I believe the most important message that could be given on Labor Day is that this is a nation of laws and that we cannot choose those laws we will keep and those we will get rid of," Donovan said.
The labor secretary said the Reagan administration's handling of the controllers' strike should encourage state and local officials to take similar actions against public workers involved in illegal walkouts.
"There is not an ounce of gloating in this administration" over its handling of the controllers' dispute, Donovan said. But he said the lesson that municipal and state leaders should learn from the president's actions "is to follow the lead of the president in protecting the Constitution."
However, AFGE chief Blaylock said on "Meet the Press" (NBC, WRC) that the Reagan administration is hurting the public by barring controllers from returning to their jobs. He said the safety of the nation's flight control system has been damaged by the absence of the fired controllers and added that "unless mechanisms are developed to address the problems that public workers have, there will be strikes."