SEPTEMBER 2, 1946
HYDE PARK—This year as we come to Labor Day, I think perhaps more than ever before about the responsibility which labor as a whole, now has for the conduct of affairs at home and abroad. Organized labor, perhaps, carries the heaviest burden because where there are organizations, labor can be better informed on national and international affairs and there are avenues through which its voice may be heard.
In the past I think, that labor could legitimately confine its activities to its own concerns—organization, conditions of work, pay and legislation directly affecting labor. Now, however, since labor organizations have grown strong, labor must of necessity think of itself as an integral part of any community. It must seek to understand and to work with all the other groups in the community, the farmers, the small merchants, the housewives, professional people—all of their interests touch on labor and labor organization cannot successfully ignore the well being of the whole community and serve its own interests.
People may be surprised at the political activity which has grown up in the ranks of labor, but they should not be, for it is simply a sign that labor is becoming conscious of their stake as citizens and that they join in all the interests of the community. This being so, labor has a deep concern in the economic well being of the country as a whole.
It is this realization which made certain wise labor leaders fight very hard for a retention of OPA price regulation until production could reach a point where prices could be held down by the mere fact that supplies were plentiful on the market. Anyone understanding the economic situation today knows that rising prices will bring demands for higher wages and if these are granted, prices will, of course, go up again. For the manufacturer does not absorb higher wages, he passes them on in costs to the consumer. Labor being a great part of the consuming public, soon finds that it is no better off than before and the vicious circle repeats itself. It is essential, therefore, that high production be achieved as quickly as possible in all the real necessities that are now in demand and that no essential materials be allowed to go into any type of non-essential production. Labor, as consumers, should demand these things since, as citizens they now wield considerable political power. They should demand from those running for political office, an opportunity before election day to hear their views on economic questions affecting our national situation. This is not selfish, for if we are not strong from an economic standpoint, the rest of the world is even weaker. If we want to help build a better world we have to see first that our domestic situation is sound and then that in our international contacts we act with wisdom and an interest in the well being of the peoples.