First, I want to say that the Reagan quote is almost convincing. However, a couple disconnected sentences from a speech of almost 2200 words leaves out context.
A little earlier in the speech, he mentioned a man named George Meany. Meany was head of the AFL from 1952-1955, then head of the combined AFL-CIO from 1955 to 1979.
"I spent many hours with the late George Meany, whose love of this country and whose belief in a strong defense against all totalitarians is one of labor’s greatest legacies. One year ago today on Labor Day George Meany told the American people, "As American workers and their families return from their summer vacations, they face growing unemployment and inflation, a climate of economic anxiety and uncertainty.” One year ago, George Meany predicted just exactly what has happened to us."
You know what else George Meany said??
"It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government."
In fact, the AFL-CIO Executive Council, in 1959, issued the following:
"In terms of accepted collective bargaining procedures, government workers have no right beyond the authority to petition Congress — a right available to every citizen."
source: FDR warned us about public sector unions
Now, more directly related to the paragraph of the speech where you found your quote, he's speaking of Poland. My preliminary research shows that 1 day before that speech, a Polish union, called Solidarity, was founded separate from and in opposition to the Communist party. There had been riots in the months leading up to its formation (the Jastrzebie-Zdroj Strikes
and the Lublin Strikes
). Solidarity is described on Wikipedia
as being "anti-Soviet". No wonder Reagan would have agreed with it and held them up as an example. They were exercising their freedoms by breaking from the not-so-free "party line" union.
As for collective bargaining, I'm still reading, but I'll let you know what I find.
Second, I thought I'd dig this up...
Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote:
"All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters."
source: FDR's Warning: Public Employee Unions a No-No