Secretary Raymond J. Donovan will mark St. Patrick's Day Thursday by going eyeball to eyeball with AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland in a long-heralded luncheon meeting at a downtown restaurant.
Donovan has publicized the tete-a-tete as part of a general detente between himself and organized labor. Across town, Kirkland and his people have minimized the importance of the get-together. The topics for discussion, officials say, will include displaced workers and the subminimum wage for youth. OFF-THE-TURF MEETINGS . . . Former undersecretary Malcolm Lovell, one of the rare administration officials popular with labor leaders, who recently resigned his post after reports of tension between himself and Donovan, has been working on employment and industrial policy issues at the Brookings Institution since March 1.
At least one of his shoes will be filled by Robert A. Searby, the department's young deputy undersecretary for international affairs, who also draws praise from organized labor as someone they can deal with.
Among other things, Searby will replace Lovell in regular informal "dialogue" with the AFL-CIO's Howard Samuel, head of the industrial union department, and other labor representatives. Those meetings, initiated by Lovell, take place at the Commerce Department and are chaired by Commerce official Guy Fiske but staffed by the Labor Department. The discussions have centered primarily on trade. Although it is not clear whether labor leaders would be enthusiastic, Searby says he'd like to move the meetings back to the Labor Department and get Donovan more involved. ACTION ON AFFIRMATIVE RULES . . . The controversial and oft-delayed proposals from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to revise affirmative action guidelines for federal contractors are going around again.
The first attempts, early in the admininstration, riled interested parties at all points of the political spectrum. As last November's elections drew near, White House aides decided to withdraw the proposals temporarily. In re-revised form, they were transmitted early this month to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office of Management and Budget for review. Beyond that, officials say, the timetable is, as ever, uncertain. Ellen Shong, OFCCP head, is scheduled to be married on April 30, in Greenwich, Conn., but denies rumors she'll resign at that time. RACKETEERING LAWS . . . After surviving his own scandal over alleged ties to shady characters, Donovan continues to speak out for tougher laws to deal with union racketeers. He will testify today, as he did last congressional session, in favor of a proposal introduced by Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) that would force the removal from office--before they exhausted their appeals--of union leaders convicted of a felony.
That proposal has the backing of the AFL-CIO's Kirkland. But other elements of organized labor, such as the building trades, oppose it on grounds that it singles union leaders out for especially harsh treatment. Rep. Phillip Burton (D-Calif.), apparently responding to pressure from these groups, killed it last year in his House labor subcommittee.
Kirkland reportedly managed to avert an open challenge to his authority on the issue during the AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting recently at Bal Harbour, Fla. Both sides agreed to some slight modifications to push for in the bill, thus heading off a public fracture. Some AFL-CIO officials saw the confrontation as a failed attempt by Kirkland's critics to mount a broader attack on his leadership.
On another front, the department has denied reports published elsewhere that it approved a proposed agreement calling for the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund to deposit $35 million in an account as seed money for future payments to Teamsters members who have charged they were defrauded.
Even if the proposed settlement is approved by the court, Donovan said in a statement, his department would pursue its own litigation against former trustees of the fund. The department believes their liability will exceed the $35 million called for in the proposal.