JUNE 20, 1952
NEW YORK, Thursday—Thousands of Long Island commuters to Manhattan underwent a couple of pretty difficult days this week when, with little warning, the Long Island Rail Road, on which most of them depend for transportation, halted operation when the engineers went on strike.
At the same time there is a steel strike going on. As it drags on day after day, there is mention that certain plants doing defense work are going to be open and continue production.
There is food for thought in both these situations.
If we, living in a country where there is no real reason for bitterness or tension between various groups, cannot work out a pattern under which disputes of various kinds are worked out without the stopping of production or of services which are vital to great numbers of people, then I submit that we show a lamentable poverty in the art of dealing with human relations.
It is evident to anyone as they look about the world that it is to the advantage of peoples to settle their difficulties.
For instance, Israel and the Arab states would be far better off if bitterness and tensions could become a thing of the past and normal cooperation could exist. This same situation holds good of Pakistan and India. The same is true on a far larger scale where the Soviet Union and the United States are concerned.
But how can we expect to iron out difficulties in these situations where so many different questions of nationality, of creed, of customs enter into the picture if here at home we cannot settle our simple labor problems?
There should be a way to set up machinery that would not only handle employee-employer situations when they come to the boiling point but would foresee and forestall them. If I remember correctly, Sweden is far ahead of most countries in this matter. In that country representatives of labor, industry and government meet at least once a month to look over the field of what may happen and forestall disruptive situations.
Our labor people and our government officials know about such machinery wherever it exists. Would it not be possible to ask them to make a study of how it could be adapted to our system and save losses of wages and of production as well as a great deal of discomfort to individuals affected as a result of strikes?
In the present situation the employees don't profit and the employers certainly lose profits. It is true that business perhaps can afford it better than the employees. Shutdowns will, of course, reduce the business tax, and may aid a corporation. But it is, nevertheless, a loss to the government in revenue, and the public certainly is not made any more comfortable by the disruption of certain services.