DECEMBER 6, 1952
NEW YORK, Friday—I think the CIO made a wise choice in electing Walter Reuther its president. The defeated aspirant for the office, Allan S. Haywood, nevertheless is a fine man and I hope that he will continue to give the same loyalty and backing to Mr. Reuther that he gave to the late Philip Murray.
The election of Walter Reuther should spell a real advance for the labor movement. These next few years are not going to be easy for labor or for management. Real problems of economics are bound to come up in which both labor and management will have to show statesmanship.
Mr. Reuther has had the background and experience to make it possible for him to see these questions in their proper perspective. He should be able to build great strength for the CIO and to build for labor the reputation of being able to understand economic problems and to look at the situation in which labor and industry will both find themselves. His conduct of his office should help to strengthen the country and our economy.
We have moved forward steadily in this country and I think our strength lies in the fact that we have increased the well-being of a very great number of our people. The largest portion of our population today is in the middle brackets. By that I mean these people are neither very poor nor very rich, but comfortable enough to give their families what they need for a healthy and pleasant life and to educate their children well.
Perhaps this does mean fewer people in the higher brackets, but I think we have reduced the number of people in the very low brackets. Thus, if we have, we have strengthened our nation, both economically and politically, because that means there are more people for whom life is worthwhile and who can actually see the benefits of democracy.
Mr. Reuther understands what has happened in the past few years in the United States, and he has the capacity for looking ahead and imagination enough to dream dreams. He is well-equipped to stand side by side with the industrial leaders and talk to them on the same level of education and knowledge of the world.
Not many of our leading industrialists know how people lived 20 years ago or thereabout in Russia, in Afghanistan and in remote places all around the world, but Mr. Reuther knows because he lived and worked with them. He knows what those people can do and what they need. In a labor leader during the next few years this may be invaluable knowledge, for we must develop markets if we are to prosper in the future in the areas of the world that have not been able to buy in the past from countries like ourselves, Great Britain and many European nations.
I congratulate Mr. Reuther and the CIO, even though I realize well that with the strength that has come to labor there has also come a far greater amount of responsibility. I hope in these next years we will see a unified labor movement in this country.
For a job that pays so little the presidency of the CIO carries heavy responsibilities and while we congratulate Mr. Reuther we shall also pray for him. These next years will be years when everyone who carries heavy burdens will need to use all his wisdom, experience and native ability.