FEBRUARY 26, 1959
WALLINGFORD, Conn.—I have been reading the accounts of the labor situation between the AFL-CIO and the Teamsters Union. And one of the things I am really unable to understand is the fear that an organization headed by such men as Dave Beck and James R. Hoffa can produce in its members.
I shouldn't think that members of any organization would like to be headed by a man who always seemed to strive to make his organization something above the law of the land and a man who has been convicted of evading payment of income taxes, as has just befallen Mr. Beck.
Yet, either because they feel their own interests are benefitted or because they do not understand what their leadership is like, the membership voted in Mr. Hoffa, who has much the same kind of reputation as Mr. Beck. At any rate, Mr. Hoffa seems very little better so far as reputation and character go. No one will deny that both Mr. Beck and Mr. Hoffa are clever, but that does not always make men good.
The AFL-CIO federation cast out the Teamsters Union on corruption charges in 1957, and now the federation's Executive Council has decided to create a truck drivers' union of its own in Puerto Rico. If this opposition group is given good leadership and becomes strong and spreads, it will serve to point up the fact that the membership of labor unions should not abdicate the control of good leaders. It will show that, just as in the nation it is the citizens who are responsible for their government, so in the labor unions it is the membership that chooses its leadership. And this must never be forgotten.
It will be of interest to all of us to see how this situation with the Teamsters Union comes out, because the leadership of the unions has a great effect today on the quality of citizenship in the country as a whole.
It has been brought to my attention that the "Talking Book," an American Foundation for the Blind innovation is currently marking it 25th anniversary.
The "Talking Book" is a device whereby long-playing records are used to record entire books. Sometimes the authors of books will read chapters of the books themselves so that the blind person may hear the voice of the writer. More often, however, the recording is made by a professional reader.
The American Foundation has prepared more than 7,000,000 records in the past five years. More than 2,800 titles have been put on records, ranging from detective yarns to the classics, from adventure to the Bible. But out of the 350,000 blind people in our country only 50,000 are using these books, and the Foundation wonders whether the blind simply do not know that they exist.
It is hoped, therefore, that during this 25th anniversary year news of these books may be spread more widely.