August 16 quote of the moment: FDR, ‘I’d join a union’

August 16, 2016

One wag, who didn’t want to discuss things after all, referred me to President Franklin Roosevelt’s message to the National Federal of Federal Employees (NFFE), of August 16, 1937 (from the American Presidency Project at the University of California – Santa Barbara (UCSB)).  The wag asked me to confess that FDR was anti-union, and that Wisconsin Gov. Scott “Ahab” Walker had acted in Roosevelt’s path in Walker’s assaults on the unions of policemen, firefighters and teachers in Wisconsin.

I demurred, and pointed out instead that Walker went after the unions despite their having NOT struck, that Walker refused to bargain in good faith, or bargain at all.  I pointed out that Walker had failed in his duty, in the view of FDR.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in 1936 (Checking to see whether, when and where FDR said that; Robert Reich says he did.)

It’s a good way to send wags packing on Twitter, I’ve learned.  They don’t like to read or think, and they certainly don’t want anyone pointing out that they may have misinterpreted something. Anything.

NFFE had invited Roosevelt to speak at their Twentieth Jubilee Convention; Roosevelt sent a letter declining the invitation. In declining, Roosevelt noted he opposed strikes by government employees.  No doubt there is more history there that deserves our attention.  We can get to it later.

Here’s the meat of FDR’s letter:

Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable. It is, therefore, with a feeling of gratification that I have noted in the constitution of the National Federation of Federal Employees the provision that “under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government.”

What do you think Roosevelt would have made of the current and last “do nothing” GOP blocs in Congress?  (Or should we say “blocks?”)

Doesn’t this describe Republicans in Congress today?

” . . . intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable.”

Is it too much to ask Republicans in Congress to be at least as loyal to the U.S. as the unionized government employees who pledged not to shut down the government?

FDR was pro-union, for very good reasons. Patriots should be, too.

More:

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.


Quote of the moment: FDR on government shutdowns

February 24, 2015

One wag, who didn’t want to discuss things after all, referred me to President Franklin Roosevelt’s message to the National Federal of Federal Employees (NFFE), of August 16, 1937 (from the American Presidency Project at the University of California – Santa Barbara (UCSB)).  The wag asked me to confess that FDR was anti-union, and that Wisconsin Gov. Scott “Ahab” Walker had acted in Roosevelt’s path in Walker’s assaults on the unions of policemen, firefighters and teachers in Wisconsin.

I demurred, and pointed out instead that Walker went after the unions despite their having NOT struck, that Walker refused to bargain in good faith, or bargain at all.  I pointed out that Walker had failed in his duty, in the view of FDR.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in 1936 (Checking to see whether, when and where FDR said that; Robert Reich says he did.)

It’s a good way to send wags packing on Twitter, I’ve learned.  They don’t like to read or think, and they certainly don’t want anyone pointing out that they may have misinterpreted something. Anything.

NFFE had invited Roosevelt to speak at their Twentieth Jubilee Convention; Roosevelt sent a letter declining the invitation. In declining, Roosevelt noted he opposed strikes by government employees.  No doubt there is more history there that deserves our attention.  We can get to it later.

Here’s the meat of FDR’s letter:

Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable. It is, therefore, with a feeling of gratification that I have noted in the constitution of the National Federation of Federal Employees the provision that “under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government.”

What do you think Roosevelt would have made of the current and last “do nothing” GOP blocs in Congress?  (Or should we say “blocks?”)

Doesn’t this describe Republicans in Congress today?

” . . . intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable.”

Is it too much to ask Republicans in Congress to be at least as loyal to the U.S. as the unionized government employees who pledged not to shut down the government?

More:


Fly your flag for Labor Day 2014

September 1, 2014

Remember to fly your flag today for Labor Day, to honor all laborers, and especially those in the union movement to whom we owe gratitude for the concepts and reality of safe work places, good pay, benefits (including health benefits), and vacations.

Members of the Silver Platers and Metal Polishers Union carry a large flag in Rochester’s (New York) 1918 Labor Day Parade. A poster depicting Uncle Sam can be seen to the rear of the marchers. Albert R. Stone Photo Collection, Monroe County Library System

Members of the Silver Platers and Metal Polishers Union carry a large flag in Rochester’s (New York) 1918 Labor Day Parade. A poster depicting Uncle Sam can be seen to the rear of the marchers. Photograph by Albert R. Stone, Albert R. Stone Photo Collection, Monroe County Library System

2014 notes the 100th anniversary of the Ludlow, Colorado Massacre.  Labor Day should give us all pause to consider those who lost their lives campaigning for good wages, for decent working hours, for good and safe working conditions, and for the right of workers to negotiate collectively the companies who employ them for these things.

Have a good Labor Day.  Celebrate with family and coworkers.  Kick off the 2014 elections.

And remember.

Monument in Haymarket Square, Chicago, noting the 1886 Haymarket Riot and the workers who died or were murdered later.

Monument in Haymarket Square, Chicago, noting the 1886 Haymarket Riot and the workers who died or were murdered later. Photo by TRiver on flickr, Creative Commons license, via AtlasObscura.

More:


2-minute history of labor video

September 2, 2013

From the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, a two-minute history of labor.

Yes, it’s a pro-labor film — but unbiased, and it covers national standards for social studies.

More:

Union leader Albert Shanker marching with teachers.  Undated photo via PBS NewsHour

Union leader Albert Shanker marching with teachers. Undated photo via PBS NewsHour


Ohio voters strike down ban on unions

November 8, 2011

Oh, I get all sorts of e-mail.  This one made me smile — I remember when Rich Trumka was a young coal miner calling us at the Senate Labor Committee, agitating for mine safety and better working conditions and railing against mine union officials who didn’t agree with him.

So he ran for president of the union.  Today, Trumka is president of the AFL-CIO.  But he’s still campaigning for better working conditions.

Trumka sends news from Ohio.

Dear Ed,I’m in Ohio right now, where working families just won an incredible victory.Ohioans overwhelmingly voted to repeal Senate Bill 5—Gov. John Kasich’s attack on middle-class jobs that was designed to destroy collective bargaining rights in Ohio.

We pieced together a short, powerful video summing up the amazing energy that went into this. I hope you’ll take a moment to watch:


Watch now.
Tonight’s victory represents a turning point in our collective work to protect good jobs, working families and workplace rights. But it’s more than that. It’s a long-overdue return to common sense.

From the very beginning of our jobs crisis, anti-worker politicians like Ohio’s Gov. Kasich have used our poor economy to push a cynical political agenda that favors the richest 1 percent at the expense of the 99 percent. Today, Ohio voters rejected that agenda.

During this campaign, firefighters, nurses, teachers and other public employees were joined by construction workers, bakery workers and all kinds of private-sector workers. They came together to ensure the survival of the middle class. And together, we’ll keep doing it. Politicians who side with the richest 1 percent will find their radical efforts stopped by working people who want America to work for everyone.

Watch the energy and dedication that went into this huge victory—and join us.

This is our moment, and we won with solidarity. We won because the working people of Ohio—public and private sector, union and nonunion—stood together.

But the solidarity went even further than that: Volunteers traveled not just from neighboring Wisconsin—but from states as far away as California and New York—to help get out the vote. And activists from dozens of states as far away as Alaska gave up their nights and weekends to call Ohio voters from home.

Solidarity means that when workers anywhere are under attack, we will all do whatever we can to help. It means we’re in it together.

Watch our video. See what solidarity looks like.

I hope you’ll celebrate this moment in your own way. But the most important thing is to find a way to keep your own energy going and growing—so you can be a part of sustaining and growing our movement for all working people—the 99 percent.

This fight we’ve taken on and won—and the threats we face going forward—are about more than Democrats or Republicans, or 2012 battleground states. They are about good jobs and our right to a voice on the job.

Together, we’re building a new kind of politics. A politics that works for the 99 percent, not just the 1 percent.

We’ve got to start getting ready now to win tomorrow’s victories. Over time—together—we’ll build a future that works for working America.

Thank you for being a part of this movement, and for all you do for America’s workers.

In Solidarity,

Richard L. Trumka
President, AFL-CIO

P.S. America is waking up. Here’s one big reason we won in Ohio—people can see that the firefighters, teachers, nurses and snowplow drivers hurt by SB 5 didn’t cause our economic problems. Wall Street did. Ohio voters saw through Senate Bill 5—they understood it was a plan to make the 99 percent bear the burden of Wall Street’s recklessness—and that it would do nothing to create jobs.

Take a moment to watch the incredible energy that went into this win.


To find out more about the AFL-CIO, please visit our website at www.aflcio.org.

More:

Here’s the video direct from YouTube (above, the link goes to the AFL-CIO site) — note it features more than a few teachers who worked to repeal Ohio’s SB5:


Interesting parent/teacher conference coming in Wisconsin

February 24, 2011

What do you want to bet Wisconsin Gov. David “Ahab” Walker will skip the conference with his son’s teacher next time?

(From the Wisconsin Democratic Party)

The woman, Leah Gustafson,  is very brave.  This is the sort of thing that invites local retaliation by administrators, without even consulting with the governor’s office.  Let’s hope her district’s administrators have a clear understanding of the law, and will back her right to state her views.

Heck, let’s hope they agree with her views.  If they don’t, they should get out of the business.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Michael A. Ryder.


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