The Reagan Administration is hardly a quick study on the subject of programs to combat discrimination in the workplace. The National Assn. of Manufacturers told the government that it can live quite nicely, thank you, with existing affirmative actions required to win federal contracts. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the concept of hiring goals to combat past discrimination. The White House still doesn't get it.
Since at least August, 1985, Atty. Gen. General Edwin Meese III has been tugging the President one way and Labor Secretary William E. Brock III the other. Meese wants to scrap the executive order requiring companies to commit themselves to reach certain goals in hiring and to promote women and minorities as a condition of obtaining federal contracts. Brock wants to keep the order, arguing rightly that such goals have expanded the job market, that employers have learned to live with and even benefit from the order, and that changes would only create new uncertainties.
At least we now know one reason the picture remains fuzzy for President Reagan--it is fuzzy for his chief adviser, presidential chief of staff Donald T. Regan. In an interview a week ago Regan said, "What we're trying to do is go along on the previous rule until such time as we can see what the (Supreme Court) has definitely said and then see if there's a need to change those rules.