My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON —It is gratifying to have the King of Belgium pay his first visit outside his own country to the United States. If he came here, as I surmise he did, as a boy he may have retained some pleasant memories. My recollection is clear only of his grandfather and grandmother's visit to Washington many years ago. During the war these visits were slightly kaleidoscopic. In any case, I am sure everyone in this country welcomes this young King and hopes that his stay here will be as pleasant as possible for we greatly admired his grandfather, King Albert.

The pictures of Sir Winston Churchill as he left for home last Sunday night made him look very jolly and content. I am afraid that contacts with people have become very difficult for him, however, because he abhors using a hearing aid, and that is something you would expect him to dislike. If he runs again for Parliament, perhaps something can be found which can be placed before him so that the sound can be augmented. Otherwise, I think he will not enjoy the sessions he attends.

How like the Soviet Union it was to come into the Conference of Foreign Ministers and make an entirely new suggestion, which they had never proposed before and which they knew quite well would not be acceptable! It always looks as though they are really struggling to find a disagreeable note on which to begin any series of meetings and I liked Mr. Christian Herter's calm and the way he refused to say anything except that he looked forward hopefully to these sessions.

I have been going over very carefully the legal aspects of the situation between the voluntary hospitals and the union representatives in New York City. The voluntary hospitals say that under the law they cannot accept a union to represent their employees. They are probably right, but in that case they should have come up long ago with a substitute proposal.

Employees who are quite evidently not receiving a living wage and are dissatisfied with their conditions of work would simply be slaves if they were obliged to work on without being able to reach their employers with their complaints and demand negotiation. The only alternative would be never to take a job in a hospital and that would certainly be a disadvantage to the hospital, since they must have employees.

It seems to me that this whole situation has been very stupidly handled by the refusal of the heads of the hospitals to meet with their employees from the very beginning. They practically forced their employees to turn to a union. Now they calmly sit and say that they will not accept Mayor Robert F. Wagner's proposal because it is illegal to allow their employees to belong to a union. The city has agreed to raise slightly the price it pays for its patients. This is probably not enough and the financial situation of the voluntary hospitals is probably unsound.

If voluntary hospitals are a necessity, the public must be made aware of their needs, and give them sufficient to run on a basis which is fair to the patients and the employees.

I have the greatest respect and admiration for those who are at the head of the boards that run the voluntary hospitals. In the current difficulty the initial fault was that they did not meet with their employees in the first place and try to work out some way that would have been satisfactory to all. You cannot just refuse to meet people when they want to talk about their basic human rights and you have to come up with some kind of a plan if you refuse such a plan as was offered by the mayor of the city.


(Copyright, 1959, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Washington (D.C., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 13, 1959

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.