APRIL 22, 1946
HYDE PARK, Sunday—It is a sorry picture to see human nature at its worst, as evidenced by the statement given to the press last Thursday by three officials of the United Automobile Workers, CIO, without consultation with the union's newly elected president, Walter P. Reuther. The anti-Reuther officials were able to do this apparently because they have more votes on the UAW executive board than Mr. Reuther has, even though the rank and file elected him president at the convention.
I care about the welfare of labor and I believe that, of all other groups, it should strictly adhere to democratic principles. Reuther was elected by the majority at the convention. There were people who disagreed with the ideas he stood for during the strike. Since he is a human being, I would never question the fact that Mr. Reuther might make mistakes. But I believe he is an honest labor leader who has at heart the interests of the majority of the rank and file. I also believe that he has one great advantage, not only over some of the other labor leaders but over many of the business leaders with whom he associates. He knows the peoples of the world through personal contact. At the present moment, that is one of the most important attributes any man can have who holds an important position. Mr. Reuther spent three years traveling around the world and working in various countries.
The labor men who oppose Mr. Reuther have a perfect right to stand for the policies they believe in, and to fight them out on the convention floor. But once the vote is cast they also have an obligation, I think, to uphold the will of the majority. It seems to me quite outrageous that in their statement they should attack other labor groups that had done what they thought was right, and also liberal organizations which they think upheld Walter Reuther by showing an interest in him as an individual. I happen to be one of the sponsors of the Union for Democratic Action and I know that many of their speakers cannot always represent the views of the board, or even of all the members of the Union for Democratic Action. The organization has an obligation, however, to give an opportunity for a hearing to as many points of view as possible; and I hope they will continue to do so. I did all I could to help the women and children whose men were on strike in the UAW recently, because I believe that in our country we want to alleviate suffering wherever it is possible to do so, since the harm done, particularly to children while their elders fight out their various points of view, seems to me unjustified.
I have always liked R. J. Thomas, UAW vice president, though I have never known him well. But I want to see labor strong and unified, and the kind of thing which has just happened within this group is the kind of thing which will give the opposition to union leadership a great hope that they can control labor groups for their special interests, rather than find these groups unified and disinterestedly fighting for the best interests of the average labor man.