n a speech that carried the ring of campaign oratory, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) today vowed to stand with organized labor against the Reagan administration, which he called "the most anti-union, anti-labor administration in modern history."
His audience, 950 delegates to the biennial AFL-CIO convention, interrupted dozens of times with thunderous applause and cheers. One outburst of applause, after Kennedy's attack on political forces seeking to make picket-line violence a federal crime, ended in a standing ovation. Another standing ovation at the end of the speech lasted one minute and 14 seconds.
By contrast, the welcome Monday for former vice president Walter F. Mondale was modest. Mondale, who addressed the federation's 14th constitutional convention, also denounced Reagan administration economics. But Kennedy's attack was full choke with both barrels, and the portent for another presidential quest in 1984 was unmistakable.
Kennedy reminded the delegates of past alliances between the Kennedy family and organized labor, and said, "You have never abandoned a struggle--and neither have I. Soon the challenge and the chance will come to us again."
The senator recalled his 1980 challenge to President Carter and told the delegates, "Our commitment involves more than the outcome of any single contest. You and I share a bond that reaches across the years. I have been so often to your meetings that I almost regard myself as a full-fledged member of the AFL-CIO."
Kennedy said the administration's economic program "treats human deprivation as a virtue," and he characterized Reagan's foreign policy as "continuing fits and incoherent starts."
Kennedy's most biting remarks were directed at Office of Management and Budget Director David A. Stockman, who is quoted as expressing serious doubts about Reagan's economic policies in an article in the current Atlantic Monthly, and who, as a result, became the butt of many jokes at the federation's four-day meeting here.
After using AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland's widely quoted description of Stockman as "the piano player in the parlor of an economic house of ill repute," Kennedy said: "Now, frankly, I am not satisfied with the way the president has handled this situation. The only result so far is that David Stockman gets taken to the woodshed--and the rest of us get taken to the cleaners."
Kennedy said that Stockman--who some union leaders here jokingly describe as their "mole in the administration"--should "stay in the White House and talk sense to the president of the United States so that we can turn this economy around."
In conducting business after Kennedy's speech, the convention re-elected Kirkland and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Thomas R. Donahue to two-year terms. The convention also elected five new members to the AFL-CIO executive council, including Barbara B. Hutchinson, the first black woman to serve on the 33-member council.
The council has another black, Frederick O'Neal, president of the Associated Actors and Artists of America, and another woman, Joyce Miller, vice president of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union.
Hutchinson, 34, a lawyer, is director of women's affairs for the American Federation of Government Employes. A number of other black federation members, mostly men, objected to her selection on the ground that she was chosen by the council without their advice and consent.
Constance Cabell, a delegate from the American Federation of Teachers, said that sexism had nothing to do with the black delegates' opposition to Hutchinson. "She was not the choice of the black elected delegates. She was handpicked by the white men on the council. She hadn't paid her dues," Cabell said.
The convention, as expected, also approved an increase in affiliate dues that will bring in nearly $14 million a year more for the federation by 1983.
In another development yesterday, Kirkland formally accepted an invitation to meet with Reagan Dec. 2. The invitation was made Nov. 13 by Elizabeth H. Dole, assistant to the president for public liaison. Kirkland told Dole that he appreciates and accepts the invitation "to meet with the president for discussion on issues of common concern."