JULY 14, 1959
NEW YORK—I was glad to read in the newspapers over the weekend that the Senate labor subcommittee approved an increase to $1.25 an hour as the minimum wage for millions of workers, and, by a voice vote, also approved the Kennedy bill, which would put additional millions of employees under both the minimum wage and maximum hour provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The minimum $1.25 an hour would come in two stages for the 24 million now covered by the law. Approximately 90 days after enactment of the bill the wage rate would go to $1.15 an hour, and a year later the minimum of $1.25 would be reached. For the 10 million workers added to the coverage by the law there would be a one-dollar wage floor.
Naturally the great number of people who would be affected by this new legislation are vitally interested in its progress. But a problem probably more important than any other at present is to make sure that employment in all industries is going forward at a steady rate. We read of very favorable reports, but every now and then we are told of pockets of unemployment here and there, and it must be that some people are really badly off. Full employment, of course, is one of the aims of all labor people.
I was very much interested in talking with one of the young Englishmen who has been traveling around our country for the past two months under the auspices of the State Department. He has been much impressed by our union leaders and the work that is being done by unions throughout the country.
He feels that, on the whole, our labor leaders are using creditable, forward-looking methods and are very conscious of the country's economic condition. He acknowledges, however, that some labor leaders, such as James Hoffa, brilliant though they may be, are interested primarily in the pay envelope, regardless of whether the business or industry is becoming more stable and better able to keep employment on an equal basis all through the year.
I have a letter from one of my readers who draws my attention to the fact that it would be wise, now that we are to have 50 stars in the blue field of our flag, to have a commission appointed. This commission would include, of course, important political and military people and, perhaps even more important, some leading artists. Since it may be necessary to change the arrangement of the stars, this should be done by experts and not without some thought of the design as a whole.
It would probably take this commission some time to decide what would be the best rearrangement and perhaps we should also have on the commission a representative of Alaska and one of Hawaii.
All of us are interested in having the new flag as harmonious and as well arranged as possible, and we hope that this can be given deliberate and careful thought.