My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

WASHINGTON, Tuesday—Mrs. Thomas testified before the Tolan Committee that, in order to join the electrical union here to get a job, her husband would have to pay three hundred dollars. This seems to indicate that this particular local is a rather high priced club. All clubs offer benefits, and this particular testimony has brought me quite an avalanche of letters giving me information of various kinds.

As a justification, the people who approve of this fee, state that their members receive many benefits and, in addition, that this rule keeps the standard of work high. If that standard should be let down, the danger of fire in all buildings would be greater.

On the other hand, one C.I.O. union member, from somewhere in the great wide open spaces, notifies me that in his union the charge is $1.50, which would seem to make his club a little less exclusive. If a man has been out of work for some time, my informant adds, he can pay it in installments out of his first earnings. I suppose a man can pay the $300 in installments too, but it might take a bit longer.

Judging from the letters I have received, there seems to be considerable interest in this subject and all of us might profit from a real out in the open discussion of the whole situation.

I received a most interesting communication the other day from the Savings Bank Life Insurance Council, in which my correspondent discussed the savings bank life insurance method out in Massachusetts thirty years ago through Judge Brandeis' efforts. Under this plan, life insurance issued by mutual savings banks "over the counter" seems to meet the needs of the average wage earner rather satisfactorily.

Governor Lehman of New York succeeded in having this form of life insurance adopted in New York State in 1939. Thos who have studied the problem of helping the small wage earner, many of whom go without food to pay insurance premiums, seem to think that this type of insurance meets the needs of this group of people better than anyother.

It certainly would not fit the needs of some of the well-to-do, nor of people who need certain specialized types of insurance, but with the experience in Massachusetts, and with the backing of Justice Brandeis and Governor Lehman, it would seem that wage earners might do well to look up their mutual savings banks and find out about this service. Under the law, no solicitors can be sent out, so this is one thing in which the wage earner will take the initiative and do his own investigating.

I had a number of appointments yesterday afternoon. I think my most pleasant one brought me into contact with some members of my Georgia Bulloch family. The young man is a sailor on a U. S. Navy ship in San Diego, but on his leave he has driven across the country with his mother. They had tea with me and started back this morning.

E.R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL