The good folks at Think Progress have some startling news for wingnuts:
As the Main Street Movement of students, workers, and other middle class Americans erupts across America, many conservatives have invoked the legacy of former president Ronald Reagan to demand that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) not back down from his push to end collective bargaining for his state’s public employees. In a prank call with the Buffalo Beast’s Ian Murphy, where Murphy pretended to be right-wing billionare David Koch, Walker himself even fantasized about being just like Reagan.
Yet conservatives may be shocked to learn that their idol Reagan was once a union boss himself. Reagan was the only president in American history to have belonged to a union, the AFL-CIO affiliated Screen Actors Guild. And he even served six terms as president of the organized labor group. Additionally, Reagan was a staunch advocate for the collective bargaining rights of one of the world’s most famous and most influential trade unions, Poland’s Solidarity movement.
Founded in September 1980, Solidarity was formed in Soviet-occupied Poland as the USSR’s first free and independent trade union. By 1981, the union had grown to 10 million people and became a powerful force for demanding economic and political reforms within the Soviet Union. Solidarity began to use strikes to demand these reforms, and the Soviets responded by jailing their leaders and cracking down on their right to organize. During his Christmas address to the nation on December 23, 1981, President Reagan condemned the Soviet-backed Polish crackdowns on labor unions, promoting the “basic right of free trade unions and to strike”:
REAGAN: The Polish government has trampled underfoot to the UN Charter and Helsinki accords. It has even broken the Gdańsk Agreement of 1980 by which the Polish government recognized the basic right of free trade unions and to strike.
It’s been said over and over again, but it is so true- Ronald Reagan would be expelled from the party today for insufficient conservatism. And while we are at it, how funny is it that the same people who are all worked up over the freedom pr0n in the middle east have ZERO idea of the role unions played in freeing eastern Europe, or the relationship between Ronald Reagan and Lane Kirkland? Just a bunch of useful idiots for the big money boys.