JUNE 14, 1947
NEW YORK, Friday—I wonder if members of Congress are getting anything like the communications which I am getting on the Taft-Hartley Labor Bill. If they are, they must begin to be conscious of the fact that quite a number of people are not in favor of that bill. Sen. Robert A. Taft keeps insisting that it is really a bill designed to give both management and labor equal rights, but a great many people seem to think that it takes away rights which organized labor groups had acquired even before the Wagner Act was passed.
I have before me a telegram of several hundred words from the Chicago Typographical Union, and it reads as though it had been written by some men who were in a fighting mood.
They say: "Our members are aroused today as they never have been aroused before....Still more are we alarmed and resentful, being a realistic as well as an idealistic organization, at the fact that Sen. Taft would deprive us of things which we possessed fifty years before the Wagner Act was adopted. For example, power to bargain for foremen and assistant foremen....periodical elections to determine whether a majority of the employees in a given printing office wish to continue it as a so-called union shop, thereby compelling us to match resources in propaganda warfare with belligerent employers who wish to seduce our members from their natural allegiance to the oldest union in America."
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If I were in the House or the Senate, I think it would trouble me a good deal that so many workers feel this legislation is going to be harmful and take away protection in the earning of their livelihood—which is, after all, something very important even to non-union workers.
As I have said before, I think that many average people in this country have been embittered by the actions of labor leaders which have endangered their home comforts and frequently their jobs. A coal stoppage, for instance, is a very serious thing. But I am told on very good authority that this bill will not make it any more possible to prevent John L. Lewis from bringing on a strike in the coal industry than it has been before. I think individual regulations made by unions for their members sometimes irritate the public. But I think these things are not fundamental and could be taken up and negotiated, whereas this bill seems to me to strike at the fundamental rights and protection of labor.
To pass it will, I think, lead to unending agitation and unrest; and it will not achieve the one thing which we need above all else to achieve—namely, increased production. The more goods we produce, the more the prices will come down. Labor is both a producer and a consumer, and it is of paramount importance that all over the world people get to work, produce jobs, produce goods, and begin to fill the needs of the people. This bill will not help to achieve this essential factor in our return to a normal situation under our present free-enterprise system.