My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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GOLDEN BEACH, Fla., Wednesday —The news that the lease-lend bill was signed came over the radio yesterday afternoon. A few minutes later we heard that certain supplies were already gathered on the dock ready for shipment.

There is a column written by Mr. H. Bond Bliss in the morning paper, which I read down here as I drink my coffee under a palm tree that looks out over the ocean. Today, Mr. Bliss stresses the importance of this moment when the great English speaking nations are joining their strength in a supreme effort to save the kind of life which seems important to them.

I know, for instance, that democracy in this country is not perfect. I know that there are many things for which I want to work in the hope of improving conditions and bringing more real democracy to my own land. But in spite of that, I know that I have a better chance to accomplish this in this country with our present form of government, than I would have in any of the totalitarian countries today.

While I am talking about improvements which I should like to see come about, I should like to state the way I feel about labor organizations. To me, organization for labor seems necessary because it is the only protection that the worker has when he feels that he is not receiving just returns for his labor, or that he is working under conditions which he cannot accept as fair. I also feel that dealing with organized labor should benefit the employer and make for better mutual understanding.

Believing in this principle, however, does not mean that I think the decisions made by groups of workmen or their leaders are always correct. I do not expect from them infallibility and superhuman qualities, any more than I do from groups of employers, or from politicians or from government officials.

There have been and are abuses in the labor movement, and I think we should fight them. The people who uncover these abuses and speak fearlessly about them, show courage and perform a civic duty. I think, however, they fail in their full duty when they do not point out that it is only the abuses they attack, not the idea and fundamental right of organization for mutual support.

A union organization fails in its full duty when it loses the ideal which lies back of all unionization. This ideal, it seems to me, is an unselfish interest in those who are not as strong as others in their ability to defend themselves, and in a willingness to suffer to obtain for others the rights you may have already achieved for yourself.

I do not believe that every man and woman should be forced to join a union. I do believe the right to explain the principles lying back of labor unions should be safeguarded, that every workman should be free to listen to the plea of organization without fear of hindrance or of evil circumstances, and that he should have the right to join with his fellows in a union if he feels it will help others and, incidentally, himself.

E.R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL