JULY 22, 1959
HYDE PARK—It is encouraging to know that the government is looking with serious concern at the steel strike. Steel being a basic commodity, a strike of this kind will affect hundreds of other businesses and hundreds of other workers who are not employed by the steel companies.
A long strike will require help from other unions, and the lack of money in circulation as a result of unemployment can make a very great difference to our economy.
For instance, 90 percent of the country's steel-making factories are now shut down. Steel production losses entering the sixth day of the walkout totalled about 1,500,000 tons, one report said. Pay losses alone for half a million steel workers amounted to about $50 million. And the number of other furloughed steel employees, together with furloughed employees in transportation and coal, will probably amount to 80,000 men.
The union is demanding a wage increase and certain improved fringe benefits. The industry says that any boost in labor costs will be inflationary and wants to eliminate what it calls certain wasteful work practices.
One of my correspondents writes me, saying he has sent the solution to the whole problem to both the union's head and to the employers, but he says that both sides ignore the facts he presents.
He contends that if the companies would lower the cost of steel, they would come much nearer to finding themselves required to operate at full production. This, he says, would mean more employment, more wages paid, and better employment in related industries. And this, he adds, would leave the fringe benefits as the only point under discussion, which should be easily settled.
Representative Chester Bowles of Connecticut hopes that the President will appoint a fact-finding body to give the people of the country the real facts in the whole situation. The union claims that the raise asked by the union can easily be met out of company profits, which they claim have been excessive. But both sides have made all sorts of accusations, and it would seem that if the public is to get any solid facts on which to base an opinion, they must come from a fact-finding board.
Representative Bowles seems to agree with my correspondent that the reduction in the price of steel would bring about conditions which would make the demands for higher wages unnecessary.
It was sad to read that in Columbus, Ga., the Museum of Arts and Crafts was damaged by a fire which destroyed art collections valued at more than $15,000. The important thing, however, is not the destruction of the art but the fact that those destroying it left scrawled on the wall the Hitler swastika, a practice which became only too familiar in pre-war Germany.
Are we extending our race hatreds in this part of the country, or is this an idea that some foolish people think is amusing?
Nothing is really amusing which curtails the liberty of any people in our country, regardless of their race or religion.