APRIL 13, 1962
HYDE PARK—In the midst of New York City's difficult school situation, it seems incredible that the city should be confronted by an actual reduction in the amount to be paid by the state in aid for schools. This is explained by the fact that $48,600,000 was due to be paid by the state on next September 15, and against this the city could borrow the money from local banks to cover the remainder of the present fiscal school year.
Governor Rockefeller's budget director, however, has interpreted a provision in the state's new school aid program to mean that he is not obliged to pay this amount on September 15. Governor Rockefeller seems to have been misleading in his own pronouncements, for he included in the total amount of state aid for the present year the final September 1961 payment, which was the last payment under fiscal year 1960-61.
The city's dilemma in the teachers' strike situation is almost impossible. The state has given rather misleading information to the United Federation of Teachers (teachers' union) on the actual ability of the city to grant the demands that the union is making. The whole situation looks to me as though the state were trying to muddy the waters as much as possible, and if the state authorities do not pay the city what is due the city in aid they must be held responsible for any harm that may come to the New York City school system.
I don't think we can blame the teachers of New York City for wanting to improve their conditions of work as well as their salaries. I don't see as yet any real preparation for granting a method of complaint and adjustment that could take the place of collective bargaining with the ultimate possibility of a strike. This is unfortunate in every way, because the children suffer, and, in the end, the country suffers.
For vital government employees, it seems to me, there should be provided ways of adjusting complaints that do not mean years of delay. Means should be found to deal promptly with complaints. No big city can afford to be without its vital employees, and teachers are among this group. In this category, also, are firemen, policemen and certain maintenance workers. All these people should not be obliged to strike, but if we do not provide adequate machinery for them to right their wrongs then they have no other way to meet the situation.
It is unfortunate that the Soviet Union has not taken as a serious offer the communication just made by our President and Prime Minister Macmillan of Great Britain to Premier Khrushchev. This was a final effort to get the Soviets to accept a treaty to prohibit nuclear tests before resumption of United States tests in the atmosphere later this month.
One would think that Mr. Khrushchev, if he really wants a beginning in any phase of disarmament, would be willing to open negotiations again and see if some kind of agreement could be reached. We have gone a long way toward meeting his original objections. It seems not unreasonable that he might make a slight gesture toward meeting the West's point of view.
I do not think the general public was much surprised to read that the United States Steel Corp. is raising the price of steel $6 a ton. The company cites higher costs and says this is the first increase in four years. It seems to me I remember reading about some of the profits of the steel companies, and in spite of higher costs these profits seemed to have been considerable.
This, of course, is the same pattern that has been followed by other steel companies in the past, and they seem to be following it again. The repercussions on the economy as a whole will be far-reaching, and it will be difficult to ask of labor that they and their leaders behave as statesmen when the leaders of industry behave in this greedy and irresponsible manner.
Profits are always tempting, but some profits may lead to future disaster.