NOVEMBER 3, 1949
NEW YORK, Wednesday—I think all of us are immeasurably grateful that the steel strike is broken by the signing of an agreement between Bethlehem Steel and the CIO union. It will do little good, however, to have the steelworkers go back to work unless the coal strike is also settled.
If that goes on, the steelworkers will soon be out of work again, for it will not be possible to keep the mills running without coal.
It is a short-sighted policy that John L. Lewis is pursuing. He will cause more and more people to use less and less coal. He will cause the inventors to try to find new sources from which to draw power and heat.
I always have sympathy with the coal miners. For so long their lot was certainly not an enviable one. I understand their devotion to John Lewis because he obtained for them the first benefits that ever came their way which made life somewhat easier.
Of late, however, I feel that he is more interested in the wielding of power than he is in the real benefits which he can acquire for the people in his union. But having such power, he could undoubtedly get anything for his people which was really right. He need not tie up his industry to the detriment of so many other people in the rather reckless manner of the recent past.
It always seems to me that strikes are to be avoided, if possible. Like war, nobody really gains. They are the last resort and they must remain a weapon which, as a final resort, can be used. But the more mature we grow the more we should perfect our machinery to avoid strikes which are costly to the workers, to the industry and to the consumer.
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I understand that Mr. Marcantonio and Mr. Robeson have been campaigning in Harlem handing out all kinds of promises. Like the promises of Communists, I think these gentlemen are only dealing in words and not in deeds.
It is easy to say, when you are seeking office, that you will do certain things. But it is quite another thing to carry out these promises, once you have the responsibility of office on your own shoulders. This same type of campaigning is probably indulged in many of our big cities.
Mr. Robeson does his people great harm in trying to line them up on the Communist side of the political picture. Jackie Robinson helped them greatly by his forthright statements. But if Mr. Robeson succeeds in selling the doctrine that communism has a special appeal to the colored people, he will have added a burden which they will find hard to carry both in the economic and the political world.
Things have been improving in the economic field and in education for colored people. I would also say in the field of the arts that there is an increasing opportunity for them to gain recognition on an equal basis. But if Mr. Robeson succeeds in labeling his race as a group as Communists, many of these gains will be lost, I am afraid, in the future.