JULY 19, 1960
NEW YORK—The National Consumers League, through its citizens' committee, has been doing a significant job on getting through Congress a meaningful fair labor standards act, and it now has sent out a warning requiring action by interested citizens before Congress reconvenes August 8. This is the background:
The House on June 30 adopted, by only an eight-vote margin, the Ayres-Kitchin bill instead of the Senate Labor Committee's minimum wage bill. After the bill's adoption, it was discovered that an amendment to it offered by Rep. Frank Smith of Mississippi would actually remove some 14,000 workers from coverage by the Fair Labor Standards Act. These people are largely from the agricultural and food processing industries and need such protection badly.
This increases the importance of the opposition to the Ayres-Kitchin bill, which will, of course, have the support of the coalition of conservative Republicans and Southern Democrats. And it is now imperative that the Senate adopt the minimum wage bill—S3758—approved by its Labor Committee.
Unless this is done, this Congress will pass no minimum wage legislation that has any meaning whatsoever. But if the Senate passes its bill, it can be brought before the House in time for action.
You are asked to write your Senators, and since they are probably now at home, you may be able to see them personally before they return to Washington.
When our Congress has to sit in session in the middle of the summer in Washington, I always wish that George Washington would have chosen a site for the capital in a cooler part of the country. But I suppose he thought Congress would be sitting only in the cool months and that this would make Washington completely acceptable.
But times have changed and Congress, unable to complete its work during the winter and spring, must carry its business into the summer. So perhaps we should move our poor lawmakers into the mountains where they could be cool during their deliberations.
It is characteristic of former President Harry Truman that once he has made his protest and the decision for the Democratic party nominee is made, even though against his wishes, he puts all his vigor into bringing about party unity.
He has offered to work for the Democratic party in this campaign, and I am sure he will do whatever is asked of him, for he feels, as all good Democrats do, that the essential thing to do in November is to return the Democratic party to leadership of the nation.
I noted with great regret the death of Lawrence Tibbett. He was a charming man, and over the years all of us have enjoyed his gift to the opera and concert world. I wished that he had been spared to give us more pleasure in the years to come.