JULY 10, 1945
HYDE PARK, Monday—There are two labor situations to which I want to draw attention at the present time. One is embodied in a bill introduced in the Senate by Senator Claude Pepper and referred to the Committee on Education and Labor. As far as I know it has not yet been introduced in the House, though I imagine Congresswoman Mary Norton will eventually introduce it.
It is Senate bill #1178, and it provides "equal pay for equal work for women and for other purposes." The first section presents the situation very well: "The Congress hereby finds that the existence in industry of differentials based on sex is an inequity in compensation standards which constitutes an unfair wage practice and (1) leads to labor disputes; (2) depresses wages and living standards of employees, male and female; (3) interferes with and prevents an adequate standard of living of such workers and the families depending on them for support; (4) in particular, has serious detrimental effects on the standard of living of families of deceased or disabled veterans; (5) prevents the maximum utilization of our labor resources and plant capacity essential for full production, in war and in peace; (6) endangers the national security and general welfare and thereby burdens and obstructs commerce."
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That puts the whole thing in a nutshell. But basically there is no excuse for not paying an equal wage for equal work, and there never has been. This principle holds good, I think, in the professional field as well as in the field of industry, and it certainly should hold good in all the service fields.
The other situation which I think we want to understand better than we do is the difficult problem which the unions face in the question of seniority. The basic thing we are all working for is full employment. If there is full employment, no difficulty arises. Seniority becomes important when jobs are scarce and men are being laid off. The unions are more interested than any other group in seeing that returned veterans get every possible benefit and protection. They know that if they do not show their interest in tangible form, it is entirely possible that some men may be fooled into believing that they would be better off if they worked outside of unions than if they joined unions. That would be a catastrophe for the unions and the workers.
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But this fight for seniority for all war workers is not a fight against veterans. It is a fight eventually to protect all workers, whether they are veterans or not, and it should be understood in this way by the public. In the main, the people of this country are workers, and their protection lies in good organization and good leadership.