AUGUST 10, 1951
HYDE PARK, Thursday—I was interested to hear the other day of some volunteer work that has been done by a group under Mr. Irving Schneider, of Yonkers, N.Y., in the Bronx Veterans Administration Hospital. There they have established philatelic clubs, and have succeeded in putting the veterans in touch with people who collect stamps for them, thus getting them really interested in this hobby. And this can lead into many interesting sidelines, such as the study of history and geography.
Now this activity is being extended to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Hospital at Montrose, N.Y., and Mr. Schneider wrote me asking if it is not possible to get anyone who has stamps to spare to send them to these new clubs that are forming in this hospital. Club meetings are held in the hospital, and it is certainly an activity in which almost all veterans could take part and which could lead not only to the interests I have suggested but also to the formation of pen pals in the outside world. This would be of great advantage to many veterans whose only occupation must be carried on within the walls of the hospital and whose only contacts with the outside world exist through letters.
The effort now being made on the organization of the Police Force in New York City into a regular union affiliated with the AFL or the CIO brings up a question that a great many of us must have considered many times in the past.
Is it possible for Civil Service employees who work for the government or for police or firemen departments to join any of the large unions, and make themselves subject to general rules which apply to people working in industry?
It seems to me the situation between civil servants and industrial workers is entirely different. There is no question but that government employees should have representation, and the government should appoint representatives to hear complaints. But even in peacetime is it possible for this particular type of employee to go on strike? He can resign, of course, and in the original contract there should be provision made whereby the rights of an employee who does resign should be safeguarded. But it seems to me a very difficult question as to whether there can be affiliation within a large association of unions.
Logically, if a fireman or a policeman can form a union, then soldiers who are professional soldiers, could form a union. And this would, I think, be a very difficult situation to plan for.
I am really not much interested in whether the AFL or the CIO succeeds in organizing any group of government workers, but I am interested in the fundamental question of whether you should work for city, state, or national government and actually belong to one of the big union organizations.
I think the whole question deserves very careful thought and I would like to hear some of the more thoughtful people in the labor movement and in government express their views on this subject.