AUGUST 25, 1947
HYDE PARK, Sunday—Sometimes it is funny to see how differently people look at the same thing. The Taft-Hartley Act has now come into effect. From now on certain things must be done to comply with that act. One paper headlines an article: "Taft-Hartley Act Reaffirms Employees' Rights." But if you looked at it from the other point of view, you might easily say: "Taft-Hartley Act Begins to Undermine the Rights of Employees." The fact is that, for the first time, we have set apart a group of people in our country—the labor union people.
I think there is no question but what union labor has neglected to assume certain responsibilities which came to it with growing strength, but there are certain things in this act which, as an American citizen, I resent. Why should the head of a union be asked to declare that he is not a Communist? It will shortly become necessary, before we start out to earn a living, to declare all sorts of things about ourselves which we considered nobody's business in the past. If we are going to make labor union leaders register as non-Communists, we had better do the same for the heads of business.
Incidentally, why not have them at the same time assert that they are not Fascists? One is as dangerous as the other, since what we are trying to do is to make sure that, in this country of ours, all people are Americans.
This particular provision in this act of Congress does not seem to me to achieve the desired ends, and I think we the people should look at it with a coldly critical eye.
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There was a time when a man was innocent until he was proved guilty, but ten men have recently been dismissed from government service without even being told, I understand, what the charges against them are. It is not going to be easy for these men to get other jobs, and yet they weren't proved guilty. Some of my friends tell me that the average employee of the Government, particularly if he has a wife and child to support, expresses no opinion today on any subject. Is that the way we make good American citizens?
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It also seems a bit high-handed to tell unions that members can be expelled only for non-payment of dues. I am sure there have been some abuses in the expelling of members but, on the other hand, there have been some abuses on the part of management in the dismissal of employees because of union membership.
It seems to me that it is an infringement on our liberties to set up for a union, in the matter of health and welfare funds, restrictions for the administration of these funds. Of course, the employer does contribute toward them, but he contributes in order that his employees may be able to accomplish through their organization the things that they desire. The employer is not apt to see things in the same light as the employee. The limitation of the purposes of such funds to medical care, retirement or death benefits, insurance, and compensation for injury or illness resulting from work, might not always meet the ideas of the employees.
Such is the act, however, and we are assured that it is open to amendment. I hope we will watch with interest how it is amended.