JULY 17, 1943
SEATTLE, Friday—Friday afternoon I left with my daughter to go to Port Angeles by boat. She was going to the Olympic Shipbuilding Yard to christen a coal barge. I christened a small one of the same type on the Maine coast last winter and was interested to see this much larger variety. The yard, itself, is interesting because it is a community project.
Congressman Henry M. Jackson proposed to the citizens of Port Angeles, including particularly the officials of labor, that they unite in encouraging the construction of this yard. Ninety-five percent of the men and women working in the yard have never done this type of work before. This yard is privately financed, privately built and is on a fixed contract, which means the contractor furnishes the shipyard and takes all the risk. It is an interesting community experiment and shows that when people understand a need they can work together to accompish results.
A few days ago, in San Francisco, I was struck by the reading of an article in a newspaper, with a heading as follows: "Union Rules Slash War Output 15 Per Cent. Engineer declares silent strike injures men at front, undermines home morale." I looked at once for the name of the man making these statements and found that he was writing under a "nom de plume."
Sometimes, I wonder whether we have a right to indict a whole group of people without using our own names so that they may answer directly. Yesterday I saw another statement, this time by Mr. Donald Nelson. He was saying that production had fallen off and gave as the possible reason that we in this country were becoming too confident of victory. We thought it was "just around the corner" and so we slackened our efforts on the home front.
I'm wondering if the first article and many similar ones, in addition to other actions that have been taken in the past few months, may not have more to do with this slump in production, than overconfidence in victory. I would like to ask the mothers of the country if they ever remember a day when their youngsters told them "that the food wasn't good, they didn't like what their mother was doing, that other youngsters' mothers did things better than they did." Wasn't the reaction a desire to go upstairs and sit in a comfortable chair and say, "Children, arrange your home, get your own supper, do your own disciplining. I am going to take a rest."
Human nature is much the same, whether you are a mother at home or whether you are one of the great army of organized or unorganized labor in the United States. Psychology may be a science, but a knowledge of human nature is its basis. I think the time has come when we, the people, most of us workers in one way or another, had better practice a little of the same psychology and say to the few who only criticize and never praise the effort of the workers, that more production will come when a real effort is made to understand the problems that workers face and to give some recognition to the magnificent achievement in production which a great number of human beings have worked together to bring about.
If there are bad union rules, go to the leaders and work with them to have them corrected, but don't tell the workers as a whole that they are on a "silent" strike which injures their men at the front. It won't get you more production, it will only get you less.