DECEMBER 17, 1946
NEW YORK, Monday—At a very late hour last night, or rather very early this morning, I returned from the closing session of the United Nations General Assembly. It was rather impressive to hear Paul-Henri Spaak, president of the Assembly, and Warren R. Austin, head of our delegation, add up the accomplishments. Naturally the one that looms largest is the agreement on the first phases of disarmament. In an organization dedicated to create an atmosphere in which peace can grow, that is probably the most important step that was taken.
However, I think we should never lose sight of the fact that, though the immediate steps in the forefront today must of necessity be military and economic, there is great importance, as we take a long view into the future, in the U.N.'s social, cultural and humanitarian activities, which will extend over the years and build up an atmosphere in which peace can be preserved.
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Now I want to turn from the international scene to the domestic front. The most encouraging suggestion that I have seen for a long time in the field of labor relations, which is probably problem No. 1 on the domestic scene, is the program proposed by the eight-man Labor-Management Advisory Committee of the United States Conciliation Service.
They have agreed that, on a voluntary basis, labor-management committees can settle most of the disputes arising in the labor field. They favor some amendments to the Wagner Act, but they do not favor compulsion. As one reads the suggestions, they seem to set up machinery which is somewhat reminiscent of the successful machinery which has functioned in Great Britain for many years.
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I have long been a believer in labor-management committees functioning all the time within industries. The value of these committees, of course, lies in the fact that both sides become educated in each other's problems. Industrialists are too apt to believe that the average labor leader is unable to understand the problems of management. Of course, a union which is not run on democratic lines is apt to make demands on its leaders which have no relation to the problems of the industry as a whole. One of the desirable results of the establishment of labor-management committees is the essential education of the rank and file of the industry in the problems which their labor leaders must face in cooperation with the management.
For rapid recovery in the world, which will affect our own economic situation, it is essential that strikes in this country be curtailed in the major, basic industries. It will come hard to a labor leader such as John L. Lewis to accept the fact that he is not the one and only policy maker in his union, and that he has to have an educated rank and file. But perhaps this new Advisory Committee, which has certainly issued a plan which sounds fairly workable, will be able to make a good start and prove its worth in the next few months. In that case, individual labor leaders, no matter how dictatorial, will have to come along.