My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK, Sunday—I do not think Labor Day has ever been as important as it is this year. Ordinarily we think of this day as merely a pleasant holiday which gives us a long weekend in which to enjoy our last bit of country air before going back to work in the city.

It is a pleasant holiday, but its significance is far greater than that. Today labor in every country is facing greater responsibilities than it ever has faced before. During the years when the nations were learning to cooperate, they naturally concentrated largely on their own particular interests. Their own working conditions and wages were their main objects of concern.

Today, in Great Britain, labor controls the government, which in turn controls great areas of land and great aggregations of natural resources, as well as vast industrial and economic resources. In this country, labor is no longer a weak group. It is a partner in a joint undertaking in which all citizens have a share. No one group can think exclusively any longer of its own interests. It must think of those interests in connection with the interests of all the people, since even our great country functions fully only when it is unified. There has long been a traditional division of interest between agricultural and urban workers. On this Labor Day there is one thing we must remember, and that is that the interest of all workers are tied together, whether they work on farms, in industries, in offices, in homes, or even as top executives in banking establishments.

We are entering an era, I think, when there will be increasingly less room in the world for those who do not wish to work. There is so much to be done now, and any civilization or form of government which does not find a way to put the work that needs to be done within the reach of those who want to do it is no longer going to be tolerated.

That, it seems to me, is why Labor Day this year has a special significance. Labor has grown up. It is a powerful section of the community, and it must share the responsibility of shaping the future. It must sit down at the same table with the heads of industries and plan for the acceptance of legislation which will make full employment possible and for the way sin which such legislation shall be implemented by the joint effort of labor and capital.

The ends that must be achieved to give the people of our nation work and health and happiness grow out of the acceptance of the right to work, and the obligation of all governments to so organize a civilized economy that this right shall not be denied to anyone anywhere.

PNews, SHJ, 3 September 1945