SEPTEMBER 14, 1946
HYDE PARK, Friday—It certainly must have been a very great relief to many people to read in the papers this morning that our ships were likely to be able to move again, and that the striking AFL seafaring unions were apparently set to accept Stabilization Director John R. Steelman's proposals. There remains the threat of a new tie-up on Sept. 30th, involving two CIO unions, but it is to be hoped that, with the serious results of the present tie-up in mind, everyone concerned will make a great effort to reach a fair settlement before that date.
In reading of the plan for ending the strike, I could not help wondering why this could not have been reached much sooner. It seems to me that where the government is engaged in an industry, it should take immediate interest in any negotiations going on between labor and private management in that industry, and should be prepared to make its decisions when private industry and the workers reach theirs.
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It was also encouraging to read that the workers in the truckmen's local unions on strike in New York City were showing signs of a willingness to negotiate.
In reading of one union membership's rebellious action, one could not help feeling that they had chosen leaders for whom they did not have much respect. I saw an article by someone who seemed to think it was foolish to expect the rank and file to agree with anything their leaders proposed. But that seems to me a rather strange argument. If you elect people to negotiate for you, I should think you would throw them out if you thought they had done a bad job, and would put in new ones whom you trusted. If your union is run democratically, you should be free to do this.
The same thing, I suppose, is the case where men are appointed to represent management. But I can't see how, on either side, satisfactory agreements can be reached unless the men selected are trusted by those back of them. Naturally, their decisions should not be final. They should go back to those they represent for ratifications. But unwillingness to listen to what the leaders suggest and to their reasons for these suggestions, would seem to indicate a complete lack of proper trust in the chosen leaders.
One can only hope that the news this morning means that, on both sides, the responsibility which is theirs at the present time is beginning to give both labor and management a realization of the necessity of coming to an agreement which will be fair to all concerned. At the present moment, as a result of the truck strike, the public in New York City is paying pretty heavily, including the families of all the men concerned—and they will continue to do so until an agreement is reached.