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Reagan to Be Inducted Into Labor Department's Hall of Honor

FILE - U.S. President Ronald Reagan talks with reporters in the White House briefing room, Nov. 25, 1986.

Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan will be inducted into the Labor Department's Hall of Honor.

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta made the announcement Thursday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum in Simi Valley, California.

Reagan is the only union leader to occupy the White House. The former actor was president of the Screen Actors Guild in the 1940s and '50s. He led the guild through three strikes and negotiated residual payments and health and pension benefits for the union's members, Acosta said.

Reagan also was a staunch supporter of the first free and independent trade union in the Soviet bloc during the Cold War: Solidarity, a movement established in 1980 that led to the downfall of communist rule in Poland a decade later.

At the White House, however, Reagan's policies led to a fraught relationship with labor unions. Early in his presidency, he fired 11,000 striking air traffic controllers. The president said the 1981 strike was illegal, and he dismissed controllers who did not follow his command to return to work.

The Labor Department's Hall of Honor was established in 1988 to honor Americans who improved working conditions, wages and quality of life for families.

Reagan was elected in 1980 and served two terms as president, leaving office in 1989. He died in 2004.