My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK, Friday—Yesterday afternoon the railroad strike did actually start. No postponement this time. And all over the country, one thing after another will slow down and stop. People will be made uncomfortable, raw materials will not come in, finished materials will not go out, jobs will close down. And if I am not mistaken, labor and management are going to find that all this is going to lead to some rather drastic results.

As I pointed out before, I do not blame labor itself, but the leadership in industry and, to some extent, in labor has been shortsighted. No one has managed to bring legitimate grievances to an end, and yet it is easy enough to realize that conditions which men endured during the war could not continue indefinitely afterward.

Management is chiefly concerned, I imagine, with replacing rolling stock and with the physical difficulties they have had to face as a result of the war, but the human problems eventually reach the boiling point. However, a whole nation's well-being should not be jeopardized by any group, whether they be miners or railroad or utility men.

Someone was telling me, not long ago, about a plan for labor courts where each difficulty, as it arose, would be brought in and analyzed on a fact-finding basis, and judges would render opinions as they do in any other court of law. That may be a possible solution. Great Britain, after the general strike there, set up the most complicated mechanism which, from that time on, seems to have obviated strikes on any big scale. I have a feeling that that, or something similar to it, is what is going to come out of our present situation.

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The public—and the workers themselves are included in the public—will not long accept any situation in which everybody suffers. I wonder whether, with all his vaunted wisdom and foresight, John L. Lewis knew, when he started the coal-strike ball rolling, where it would come to rest.

In the past, there have been many people in the business world who have wanted to control government, and have controlled it to a great extent. In recent years, I think that same ambition has been in the minds of some of our labor leaders.

The leaders of industry sought control for a privileged few, but always I am sure that they would have added that, while a small group might hold power, it was for the benefit of the great mass of people. The well-being would flow down from the top. The leaders of labor who desire power today undoubtedly believe that they too desire it only for the benefit of the people as a whole, and they would say that what benefits the masses will flow up to the top and benefit the industrial leaders as well!

As a matter of fact, we are all tied together and depend upon each other, and what is really essential is that we find a method whereby all groups will be controlled for the benefit of the whole. That, I am afraid, means some kind of compulsory machinery, since voluntarily we don't seem to get together very well!

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL