Election 1944: Fred W. Perkins columns

The Pittsburgh Press (September 24, 1944)


Perkins: Hopes for wider security are bolstered by Dewey

By Fred W. Perkins, Pittsburgh Press staff writer

Washington – (Sept. 23)
Hopes for an early extension of the social security system were raised in Washington today through Governor Thomas E. Dewey’s endorsement, in a Los Angeles speech last night, of some important features of legislation stalled in Congress since its introduction in June 1943.

The Republican presidential nominee, it was noted here, came out in favor of certain major phases of the program which appeal to the largest number of citizens and which have encountered the least opposition.

On one controversial feature, which its foes call “socialized medicine,” he proposed a method intended to turn the opposition of powerful medical groups into cooperation.

Job for the states

He would legislate “assurance of medical service to those who need it, and who cannot otherwise obtain it,” but he would reach that objective by enlisting “the leadership and aid of the doctors of America in organizing our private and public hospitals as well as our other services into a fully effective system to protect the health of all our people.”

He would not follow the proposal of the Wagner-Murray-Dingell bills in placing technical and professional administration under a federal bureau (the U.S. Public Health Service).

In another important particular, Governor Dewey differed from the philosophy of the Wagner-Murray-Dingell bills, and did so in harmony with the declared Republican policy of maintaining and strengthening state functions rather than extending federal power. He would return to the states the control of employment services, and would leave unemployment insurance with the states.

Present law cited

In the long argument over the wisdom of encouraging the individual to look more and more to the federal government for his upkeep in times of unemployment and to depend on Washington to get him a job, the New York Governor takes the side of those who believe these are proper functions of the states.

But Governor Dewey expressed full support for the effort to add 20 million Americans to the 40 million now carrying federal social security cards which promise them old-age pensions after retirement at 65.

Under the present law, enacted in 1935, and for which the Roosevelt administration claimed full credit (although the Republican candidate pointed out it was passed “by a nonpartisan vote of overwhelming proportions”) the old-age survivors’ insurance plan covers business and industrial jobs.

Some excepted now

Congress excepted a number of other large classes of employment – including agricultural labor, domestic service, public employment, service for non-profit and government institutions, and self-employment.

For instance, a printer who works for a commercial publisher gets the benefit of the present law, but a printer for a religious organization does not. The law covers a janitor who sweeps out a grocery store, and a stenographer for an industrial concern, but not a janitor in an educational institution, nor a stenographer for a charitable group.

‘Not good enough’

These exceptions were made for various reasons, including the one stated by Governor Dewey, “difficulties of administration.” Governor Dewey said this was “not a good enough answer.”

Governor Dewey did not adopt all the ideas of the Social Security Board, nor of the framers of the Wagner-Murray-Dingell bills, nor of the American Federation of Labor, which has been active on the subject. But his supporters think he may have found a way to end the stalemate in the Democrat-controlled Congressional committees (Ways and Means in the House, Finance in the Senate) where the proposed legislative extensions of social security have rested for 15 months without even a hearing.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 26, 1944)


Perkins: President ‘in the middle’ on wages

He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t – and time’s a wasting
By Fred W. Perkins, Pittsburgh Press staff writer

Washington –
The question which President Roosevelt did not answer in his campaign-opening speech before leaders of the Teamsters Union will be moved several steps ahead in War Labor Board proceedings this week toward a decision, which could be ready about two weeks before the November election.

The unanswered question, of tremendous political significance, is the one which most interests the labor leaders, and which only Mr. Roosevelt can answer. It is whether the President will order an upward revision of the Little Steel Formula of wartime wage control. Only the President can answer because he is the final authority. The War Labor Board has merely the power to make recommendations to him.

If the formula is liberalized, more than a million unionized wage earners will be benefited immediately through WLB cases now pending in the steel, electrical manufacturing, meat-packing and other industries. The eventual and not-distant effect would cover several millions more – and possibly the majority of the many millions now working in American industry.

Has great power

Never before has a President had this power to raise wages of millions of workers, for the reason that this system of wage control was never used previously. Never before has a President been called on to make such a vital decision in the middle of a campaign for reelection.

Mr. Roosevelt said in his speech to the labor leaders, with reference to reconversion policies:

We shall follow a wage policy which will sustain the purchasing power of labor – for that means more production and more jobs.

The present policies on wages and prices were conceived to serve the needs of the great masses of the people. They stopped inflation. They kept prices on a relatively stable level. Through the demobilization period, policies will be carried out with the same objective in mind – to serve the needs of the great masses of the people.

The pay raises, if ordered, are expected to bring a demand from manufacturing concerns for OPA authority to revise their prices, and if the changes on both the wage and price fronts are large enough, they might encourage the inflationary movement which the President warned against in connection with his hold-the-line order in April 1943.

Wage increases also would set a higher standard for the labor unions to attempt to maintain after the war. Leaders of these organizations have shown they are fully aware of an inevitable drop in weekly incomes when the country returns to peacetime working schedules – hence they now strive to boost the hourly rates of pay to compensate for the loss of premium pay for overtime.

If the President, before election, should decide against any change in the wage formula, millions who are supporting him for a fourth term would be disappointed.

If the decision should be held off until after election, Mr. Roosevelt’s foes will ascribe political motives, and they will do the same if he OK’s an upward revision before Nov. 7.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 27, 1944)


Perkins: Steel pay revision poses real problem

Bosses back Roosevelt on policy, unions oppose him – everything hangs fire
By Fred W. Perkins, Pittsburgh Press staff writer

Washington –
Here is an apparently cockeyed situation: Industrialists who are going to vote against Mr. Roosevelt will be arguing here this week for maintenance of one of the President’s important policies against the attacks of his political friends in the labor unions.

The policy concerned is the one intended to hold wages to the Little Steel formula. The labor leaders, with constituencies in the millions, have been trying to break this yardstick ever since it was established by the War Labor Board in July 1942. They are now moving in for “the kill,” in the closing weeks of a campaign in which the only man who can change it is a candidate for reelection.

There is more to the cockeyed character of the situation.

The industrialists defending a Roosevelt policy against the President’s labor friends are mostly Republicans, and this year’s platform of their party condemns “the freezing of wage rates at arbitrary levels.”

What a setup

Philip Murray, president of the CIO, which has a Political Action Committee campaigning for Mr. Roosevelt, complained in a WLB hearing over delays in the disposition of the case initiated by the CIO United Steel Workers in December of last year. He said that “delays, postponements, briefs and briefs, repetition and repetition, have been the order of the day.”

Mr. Murray made his statements in presenting the union’s case before WLB hearings on modification of the “Little Steel” wage formula; AFL gave their arguments for wage raises yesterday and industry presents its opposing case tomorrow.

Mr. Murray’s mention of possible war-end changes in the stabilization program was a reference to an assertion by WLB Chairman William H. Davis that the end of the war in Europe was “certain” to bring changes in the nation’s wage policy.

Would reverse OPA study

Mr. Murray said that in arguing the case for steel wage raises, he would “take the liberty of making public” an OPA study of the steel case which Price Chief Chester Bowles has termed “preliminary and confidential.”

Stating that the steel industry had requested a general price increase of 10 percent, Mr. Murray said the OPA study concluded that:

There is at the present time no ground for an overall increase in the price of steel, and even in the event that the wage increase requested by the union were granted in full, the case for a price increase would not be persuasive.

Great advances made

Harold J. Ruttenberg, research director of the union, departed from the familiar cost-of-living argument to urge raises to allow wages to “catch up with the constantly rising productivity of American industry.” In the past two years, he said, the steel industry has made technological advances so great that production increased seven percent while manpower was reduced by 12½ percent.

Governor Dewey, campaigning against Mr. Roosevelt, and opposed vigorously by the CIO Political Action Committee, said in his labor speech at Seattle:

This policy of delay, delay and more delay serves only the New Deal and its political ends, It puts the leaders of labor on the spot. It makes them come hat in hand to the White House. It makes political loyalty the test of a man getting his rights.

An important decision

Thus, Mr. Murray and colleagues agree with Governor Dewey on the delay subject, but won’t vote for him. The industrialists agree with President Roosevelt on maintenance of the stabilization policy, but won’t vote for him!

Political implications of highest voltage are involved. Mr. Roosevelt, through acts of his own and of Congress, has come into position where he can order a raise for several million workers.

Nothing like this ever has been known in American politics. What Mr. Roosevelt does about it may turn out to be an important chapter in this country’s political history.

Mr. Murray, before the War Labor Board, emphasized that the steel union had not been responsible for delaying the dynamic wage question until the presidential campaign. He pointed out that since the War Labor Board assumed jurisdiction of the wage dispute last February, his union had used only 3½ days for its testimony. The union also used a week while its officers were at their convention, and the balance of the seven months was charged to the steel companies and the procedures of the War Labor Board.

Was it planned?

Mr. Roosevelt can make a decision just before election, but according to the evidence there is no proof that anybody planned it that way.

Mr. Murray hopes for presidential action before election, according to his statement:

I raise the question whether we are going to obtain a decision quickly and on the merits of the case; or whether this case is going to be treated as a political pawn, kicked around hither and yon, because courage is lacking to determine the issue.

George Meany, secretary of the American Federation of Labor, conducted a long list of AFL officials to the witness stand against the Little Steel Formula. He ended by saying, “We are asking this board for a chance for the workers of this country to enter a high-wage economy after the war.”

After the war, it is presumed that workers will go back to the 40-hour week, with no allowance for the overtime pay that now boosts their incomes, unless hourly wage rates are raised in the meantime – a problem for either Mr. Roosevelt or Mr. Dewey.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 28, 1944)


Perkins: Communist meeting backs Roosevelt to last comrade

Dewey characterized as ‘Hoover stooge’ with dangerous Fascist tendencies
By Fred W. Perkins, Pittsburgh Press staff writer

Washington –
In one of this non-voting city’s infrequent political meetings, the leading Communists of the community made it clear last night beyond any doubt where their votes will go this year – they are for FDR to the last comrade.

Governor Thomas E. Dewey was characterized as not only a “Hoover stooge" but as a dangerous person of pronounced Fascist tendencies, something like Hitler.

James W. Ford, Negro and three-time vice-presidential nominee of the Communist Party, did this characterizing in a calm and cultured voice. Comrade Ford drew the comparison of Dewey with Hitler as follows:

Dewey is unable to answer the questions raised by Roosevelt so he adopts the Hitler policy of telling big lies. With added boldness following his speech in Oklahoma City he has adopted the Hitler purge policy – he says he will purge Earl Browder, the CIO-PAC, Sidney. Hillman, Madame Perkins, and Ickes.

National anthem opens meeting

The proceedings opened with “The Star-Spangled Banner.” There was an appeal for blood donors for war purposes, and $38 was collected to buy Christmas packages for local Communists serving in the Armed Forces.

Also, there was a plug for a new book by Earl Browder, Tehran, and the paid circulation of that Production was increased on the spot by 25. Mr. Browder, the habitual presidential candidate of the former Communist Party, is now president of the Communist Political Association. The meeting was in observance of the 25th anniversary of the Communist movement in the United States.

James L. Branca, a paid organizer of the party and president of the Washington branch, explains that the Communist Party no longer exists and that its place has been taken by the Association, the motives of which, he said, are “educational.”

Praises Negroes’ progress

Mr. Ford devoted much of his speech to praising the progress of Negroes in recent years, and he credited nearly all of it to President Roosevelt, and especially to the latter’s use of his executive power in creating the Fair Employment Practice Committee.

He described both major parties as part of the “bourgeois democracy system,” and said Mr. Roosevelt is a representative of “bourgeois democracy.” So, he said, is Mr. Dewey, but not as acceptable a one as Mr. Roosevelt. This was the nearest he got to the vernacular of the Marxian philosophy to which the American Communists cling.

Denounces Negro leader

Mr. Ford bitterly denounced Edgar Brown of Washington, head of the National Negro Council, who is opposing reelection of President Roosevelt.

But Mr. Ford had kind words for a leading spokesman for the American capitalistic system – none other than Eric Johnston, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He quoted Mr. Johnston as saying, “The present capitalistic system is on trial, and we must make it work.” Mr. Ford, referring to Mr. Johnston’s recent visit to Moscow, remarked “He has learned much in recent months.”

Mr. Ford said, to prolonged applause:

Basically, the policies of President Roosevelt are those we have fought for. Our inevitable duty is to see that he is again elected.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 29, 1944)


Perkins: Aluminum workers hit wage hike delay, point to ‘promise’

Business spokesman supports Roosevelt
By Fred W. Perkins, Pittsburgh Press staff writer

Washington –
An important question before President Roosevelt – whether several million working men and women shall have an immediate increase in their wages – was apparently made harder to answer today through a defense of the Roosevelt wage policy by a spokesman for “big business.”

John A. Stephens, a vice president of U.S. Steel Corporation, appeared as the defender of the policy, and seemingly put up to the President the responsibility for any change which might encourage a rise in prices to make the dollar look like 30 cents.

A lot of politics is involved. Among President Roosevelt’s principal supporters are the CIO unions foremost in the drive of organized labor to break the “Little Steel formula.” The presidential campaign is now in full swing, and the CIO leadership is pressing for recommendations from the War Labor Board to be in the White House by Oct. 15.

Murray wants action

Philip Murray, head of the CIO and the Steelworkers, objected to the wage cases being mixed up with national politics, but at the same time, he insisted on the Oct. 15 deadline. That date would allow three weeks before the election for Mr. Roosevelt to make up his mind – through discontent among his union supporters or of risking an inflationary move and also a charge from his Republican opponents of “using other people’s money” to hold the labor vote.

By a vote of 8 to 4, the Board refused to put a deadline on its deliberations but it promised a decision as soon as possible after that date.

Mr. Stephens used a simple device in defending the wage policy and of putting the responsibility for a change up to Mr. Roosevelt. He merely cited the principal statements of the President and his economic aides on the necessity of maintaining the stabilization plan until all danger of inflation is past. He noted that the war is not over, and that recent news indicates the end is not as close as had been hoped.

Quotes from speech

Mr. Stephens quoted from a speech Wednesday by James F. Byrnes, Director of War Mobilization:

On the whole, the line has been held and government should continue to hold it until the dangers of inflation are passed. If we do not preserve a stable economy, post-war deflation will ruin all hopes of post-war prosperity.

He also quoted Mr. Roosevelt, in his speech of last Saturday night:

The present policies of wages and prices were conceived to serve the needs of the great masses of the people. They stopped inflation. They kept prices at a stable level. Through the demobilization period, policies will be carried out with the same objective in mind – to serve the needs of the great masses of the people.

The distinctive feature of the present situation is that only one man can give the answer – Mr. Roosevelt.

The Pittsburgh Press (September 30, 1944)


Perkins: ‘Little Steel’ ruling demanded at once, but delay indicated

Politics or not, action is asked
By Fred W. Perkins, Pittsburgh Press staff writer

Washington –
What Robert J. Watt, AFL member of the War Labor Board, wants to know is: “How are you going to keep this wage question out of politics?”

He put the question, in those words, to a CIO unionist who had protested against union wage demands being made a “football of politics,” but who almost simultaneously had requested that the Board act on the case immediately, and thus place it on the desk of President Roosevelt well before the November voting.

Through the workings of the stabilization program, the matter of giving a pay raise to millions of American citizens becomes a question to be decided only by Mr. Roosevelt.

The War Labor Board has become merely an advisory body to the President in the matter of changing the basic policies of stabilization, including the freeze on wages and salaries.

Speed urged

The witness before the Board was W. T. Lewis, representing the CIO Federation of Glass, Ceramics and Silica Sand Workers. He made the “football of politics” statement, whereupon Mr. Watt asked, “Do you think this case should be held up until after the election?”

The answer of Mr. Lewis was “No,” that “the case should be decided on its merits” – but quickly. This witness was in accord with Philip Murray, president of the CIO, who has demanded that political considerations be eliminated, but that the Board put its recommendations before the President by Oct. 15.

This was one incident in current Washington proceedings which lead up to the question of whether President Roosevelt will use his power over wages to please his supporters in the CIO and other labor groups, thus risking an inflationary movement; will turn them down before election, thus taking the chance of losing labor votes; or will delay the decision until after Nov. 7.

No commitment

The third course appeared most probable after a White House conference between the President and members of his “Labor Victory Committee” – William Green, Daniel J. Tobin and George Meany, for the AFL; Philip Murray, R. J. Thomas and Julus Emspak for the CIO.

Messrs. Green and Murray, acting as spokesmen, agreed that the President had listened to their arguments in favor of breaking the “Little Steel” formula, had asked a number of questions, but had made no commitment.

Mr. Green said:

We didn’t ask for any commitment, but got the impression that the President will not act until the wage cases (AFL as well as CIO) are sent to him by the War Labor Board.

The AFL president, in response to questions, said he hadn’t seen “even a gleam” in the President’s eve, to indicate which way he might be thinking.

Optimism expressed

Mr. Murray also said he had no idea of what the President will do, and explained that his recent statements before the United Auto Workers (CIO) – that he was sure the wage formula would be revised upwards – had no basis in any pledge from any government official.

“But I still feel,” Mr. Murray said, “that the formula will be broken.”

Mr. Green, questioned on this point. was not so sure – “I think it should be,” he said.

The Pittsburgh Press (October 3, 1944)


Perkins: Giving Congress pay reins would solve political mess

President could get off ‘Little Steel’ spot by following Monroney suggestion
By Fred W. Perkins, Pittsburgh Press staff writer

Washington –
President Roosevelt could remove a ticklish political question from the campaign by adopting a suggestion that the important decision on breaking wartime wage controls should be made by Congress and not by the Executive.

He would be relieved of possible political repercussions, which are thought likely no matter which way he moves.

Congress will not be back in Washington until a week after the Nov. 7 election, and Congressional leaders hold that the decision then could be made without the political pressure that will exist in the next five weeks.

CIO backing fourth term

CIO unions, in the front of the drive to smash the “Little Steel” formula of wage control, are pressing the War Labor Board to get its recommendations on the President’s desk not later than Oct. 16. Philip Murray, CIO president, denied any political implications, but insisted on the deadline. The CIO unions, through the Political Action Committee headed by Sidney Hillman, are prominent in the drive for the fourth term.

The suggestion that Congress make the decision was presented to Judge Fred M. Vinson, Director of Economic Stabilization, by Rep. A. S. “Mike” Monroney (D-OK), who has been active in stabilization legislation. He wrote to Judge Vinson:

Because wages and prices are so closely tied together, I would hike to insist that before any modification of the “Little Steel” formula is made, Congress be given a chance to approve or disapprove this important step…

To break through the “Little Steel” formula now would result in a general upward movement of all prices, of great enough degree to cancel out all, or almost all, of the real purchasing power of any increase.

Formula not in law

The formula is not written into law, but has been given such support by executive orders of the President that the WLB has stated it cannot make a change. It can only advise Mr. Roosevelt – the only official with power to decide – who finds himself called on to approve or disapprove a pay raise for groups including millions who are regarded as his political supporters.

The political implications figured yesterday when the WLB received Statements opposing immediate changes from Robert M. Gaylord, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, and Eric A. Johnston, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Political football

Mr. Gaylord’s statement included a regret “that a decision on this issue has been postponed until this time, when circumstances make it a political football.”

John Brophy, a CIO member of the board, asked if the issue “wouldn’t be just as political after election,” and the NAM president replied, “That depends on the kind of a deal made before election.”

Mr. Johnston was not pulled into the political discussion, but was asked by Mr. Brophy what he thought of the guaranteed annual wage being demanded by some big unions. Mr. Johnston said he had “always been in favor of leveling out the peaks and valleys of industrial production,” and recently had initiated studies looking toward “a more stable pay envelope” for all the employees of American industry.

Meanwhile, some industrialists were wondering if the President would call into consultation an industry war advisory committee which he formed a year ago, but piety has not met since Oct. 27, 1943.

The industry committee includes B. F. Fairless (president of U.S. Steel Corporation), Frederick C. Crawford (former president of NAM), Richard R. Deupree (head of Procter & Gamble Company), George H. Mead of the Mead Corporation in Dayton and an industry member of the WLB, David Sarnoff (president of RCA) and several others.

The Pittsburgh Press (October 6, 1944)


Perkins: Republicans streamline labor setup

District union groups replace central unit
By Fred W. Perkins, Pittsburgh Press staff writer

New York –
What has become of the Labor Division of the Republican National Committee, which has been a tradition part of the campaign organization for many years?

The answer is that there isn’t any, and isn’t going to be any in the accustomed form. The streamlined setup which National Chairman Herbert Brownell, presides over here in the Hotel Roosevelt (named for TR) has adopted a new idea, one of several departures from the usual campaign procedures.

Mr. Brownell explained it just before leaving for Columbus today.

Strong state groups

He said:

In this campaign, we have not adopted the traditional plan of setting up a labor division, because Governor Dewey and I consider the labor field so important that I am giving it my direct attention. But we have something more than the usual labor division.

A strong Republican labor committee has been organized in each of the industrial states outside the solid South. to carry into effect the labor policies of the national committee. In place of the usual formal national labor committee of 20 to 25 members, we have thus enlisted the support of approximately 3,000 union officials and members of the rank and file.

We think that will prove to be the better plan.

The only thing old-fashioned in the political behavior of Mr. Brownell was that he proffered a campaign cigar to his visitor.

Getting back to the labor subject, the chairman said that the proportion of labor support he expects “is all a question of how far the trend goes. There is a very heavy trend now in our favor among working men and women. Governor Dewey undoubtedly will draw a much larger support from labor, groups than recent Republican candidates have had.”

Follow tradition

In the Baltimore Hotel, only a block away, the Democratic National Committee has followed tradition by setting up a labor division under Dan Tobin, head of the Teamsters Union. He is assisted by his son Fred, also an official of the Teamsters Union. Dan shuttles back and forth between Washington and New York, but Fred spends most of his time here.

The Tobin setup has no apparent connection with the political activities of Sidney Hillman, who heads both the CIO Political Action Committee and the National Citizens PAC – the difference being that the latter can contribute money to candidates while the former is prohibited by law from doing so.

The Pittsburgh Press (October 10, 1944)


As election draws near –
Perkins: CIO still unable to win promise of pay boost

And may have to back Roosevelt without one
By Fred W. Perkins, Pittsburgh Press staff writer

Washington –
The election is four weeks from today and it looks as if the CIO supports of President Roosevelt will have to vote for him without official assurance that he is going to order a pay raise for them.

This, despite efforts of Philip Murray, head of the CIO, to get a War Labor Board recommendation for breaking the Little Steel wage formula on the President’s desk by next Monday, and despite a statement today by R. J. Thomas, president of the CIO Auto Workers, that he will do all he can to see that the President will have three weeks in which to make the final decision that would please the unionists, but might antagonize other sections of the electorate. Inflation possibilities are involved.

Roosevelt commitment denied

There’s a story going around that Mr. Roosevelt told union leaders who called on him 10 days ago that the question would have to go over until after election, that there would be no political advantage in unsettling wartime wage policies just before the election and the wage action might produce charges he was attempting to buy votes with other people’s money.

Mr. Thomas said the story “isn’t true.” He was one of the labor leaders in the White House conference. Mr. Thomas has a reputation for straight-shooting and no doubletalk. And all other evidence indicates that the President made no commitment on either side of the question.

Won’t promise early action

William H. Davis, chairman of the War Labor Board, said he could not guarantee a Board decision next week – “I don’t like deadlines. I never said it would be decided by next week.”

A labor spokesman pointed out that any recommendation for a change in wage policies would have to go through the Office of Price Administration, to the Director of Economic Stabilization and the Office of War Mobilization before it reached the President.

Mr. Davis admitted that “would take considerable time.” He also said that the problem he was trying to impress on the other members of the Board was whether “if wages go up the wage-earner will get anything out of it or will prices go up at the same time so that everybody will lose.”

The Pittsburgh Press (October 11, 1944)


With election only 27 days away –
Perkins: Major labor trouble plagues Roosevelt from three fronts

Some of ‘breaks’ that help swing the vote flare to beset New Deal on home front
By Fred W. Perkins, Pittsburgh Press staff writer

Washington –
Three of the “breaks” that help swing elections appear today on the labor front. All are against Mr. Roosevelt.

  • The Petrillo case, in which the head of the American Federation of Musicians (AFL) leaves the President out on a limb by rejecting an official but courteous request that he obey an order of the War Labor Board.

  • The Matthew Smith case, in which this leader of non-affiliated unions offered a destructive strike of 70,000 men in 64 vital war plants. Republicans may cite the case in their attacks on the administration’s manner of handling labor problems.

  • Disclosure that heads of five railway workers’ brotherhoods were recently pressured, in some cases unsuccessfully, to declare for reelection of Mr. Roosevelt.

As to No. 3, the rail union heads called on the President a week ago to add their weight to other labor groups in asking for a relaxation of wage-control policies, preferably before election.

When they came out of Mr. Roosevelt’s office, George M. Harrison, president of the Railway Clerks and a vice president of the American Federation of Labor, gave reporters the impression that the entire group was enthusiastically in favor of a fourth term.

‘Pressure’ charged

What wasn’t told was that when the rail labor leaders entered the President’s office they found there Dan Tobin, head of the Teamsters Union (AFL) and director of the Labor Division of the Democratic National Committee. Some of the railway men construed Mr. Tobin’s presence as intended to “put the heat” on them, and they so said today.

They pointed out that Mr. Tobin was not a member of their group, could have been there only at the instance of the President, and they construed his participation as purely political.

Split vote predicted

The conversation was reported as dealing only scantily with the subject the railway men had come to talk about, but abundantly about how the members of railway unions – with a membership of approximately a million and a half – should regard Mr. Roosevelt as their friend, despite the bad feeling early this year over the administration’s handling of the railway wage controversy.

None of the rail union heads, it was learned authoritatively, attempted to commit their organizations to the support of Mr. Roosevelt, and some were said to have failed to give their personal pledges. An authority on the political pulse of railway workers says their votes, predominantly in recent years for Mr. Roosevelt will be split.

Petrillo is problem

The group, in addition to Mr. Harrison, included D. B. Robertson (president of the Locomotive Firemen and Engineers), Harry W. Fraser (president of the Railway Conductors), E. E. Milliman (president of the Maintenance of Way Men), and Harvey W. Brown (president of the Machinists Union).

The Petrillo refusal followed a request from the President for compliance with War Labor Board orders that the union lift its ban on members doing work for the transcription divisions of NBC, Columbia Recording Corporation, and Radio Corporation of America.

A high official concerned with labor matters expressed the opinion that the development would cause more unfavorable public reaction against Mr. Roosevelt than against the head of the musicians’ union. This opinion was based on the fact that in the President’s telegram of Oct. 4 to Mr. Petrillo he left no means of enforcements against the union.

‘Very polite’ request

The presidential telegram cited an opinion that “under all the present circumstances the noncompliance by your union is not unduly impeding the war effort,” thus absolving Mr. Petrillo from prosecution under the War Labor Disputes Act.

However, the President’s telegram added:

This noncompliance may encourage other instances of noncompliance which will impede the war effort.

Matthew Smith, defying the government with a threat of a serious war strike, and drawing a “stab in the back” charge from Under Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson, has been in a long conflict with the War Labor Board over its refusal to include spokesmen for independent or non-affiliated unions in the Board’s labor membership. He is identified as a Socialist in politics, but has publicly announced support for Mr. Roosevelt in this campaign.

The Pittsburgh Press (October 12, 1944)


After WLB refuses to act –
Perkins: Labor puts heat on Roosevelt for raise

By Fred W. Perkins, Pittsburgh Press staff writer

Washington –
Union leaders, fighting for a pay-raise order before election, started work today to get the explosive campaign issue into the White House by the end of next week.

The labor members of the War Labor Board are engineering this move, after roundly condemning the public members of that agency for “inexcusable dereliction of duty,” “timidity, contradictions and doubletalk,” “a clear surrender of the Board’s commitment to exercise its judgment,” and “an admission by the public members that they are not competent to perform their duties.”

This upheaval came yesterday after the Board’s public and management members had turned down an American Federation of Labor proposal for a recommendation to the President that he revise the Little Steel formula upward and allow its general application without submission to WLB; and after the same groups of members, with the labor quartet in opposition, had decided it will merely submit a factual report to the President, and will make no “recommendations for action one way or the other with regard to the Little Steel formula.”

Not ‘sufficiently informed’

The WLB said:

The Board is not sufficiently informed as to the possible effects of a modification of the Little Steel formula on the price structure and on the national economy generally to warrant assurance that any modification could be made consistent with the stabilization needs of the country and with the provisions of the Stabilization Act of Oct. 2, 1942.

The labor members immediately went into a huddle and issued their sizzling statement.

Talking to reporters, George Meany, secretary-treasurer of the AFL, declared, “we hope the President will make his decision without regard to the War Labor Board.”

Emil Rieve, president of the CIO Textile Workers, added:

We will make our recommendation added without going through the Board or the Director of Economic Stabilization or any other agency – direct to the President.

Murray scores politics

R. J. Thomas, president of the CIO United Auto Workers, observed:

And it will be on the President’s desk by the end of next week – maybe considerably before then.

The importance of these statements is that most of the CIO and some of the AFL are backing Mr. Roosevelt for reelection to a fourth term. Philip Murray, head of the CIO, has protested the wage issue being made “a football of politics,” and in almost the same paragraph has insisted that the War Labor Board should get the question to the President not later than next Monday.

Thus “the heat” is increased on Mr. Roosevelt.

Nothing like this has ever faced a President running for reelection, for the reason that never before has there been a system of wage control running up to a climax just before the voters go to the polls.

Could have been averted

The climax could have been averted if the War Labor Boards labor members had been agreeable to going along with the Board’s policy of exhaustive inquiry, probably meaning a delay of several weeks more in proceedings now a year old.

But they were not agreeable, and thus some of the President’s strongest supporters plan to put up to him two weeks before Nov. 7 a decision of such importance that it might swing the election. If he turns down or defers the labor plea, he may lose support in quarters that have been regarded as strong for him; if he grants the plea, without insisting upon the routine processes, the Republicans will charge him with buying the election – and may influence a lot of conservative middle-of-the-roaders.

The Pittsburgh Press (October 13, 1944)


Ammunition for GOP –
Perkins: Roosevelt left out in limb by WLB’s inaction

Pay decision now is tied to election
By Fred W. Perkins, Pittsburgh Press staff writer

Washington –
Critics of the Roosevelt administration’s labor policies, including Governor Dewey, will find more ammunition for their attacks in the current situation of the War Labor Board.

This board, after spending 10 months in compiling a huge mass of testimony and arguments on the question of revising the Little Steel formula which is the basis of wartime wage control now has disqualified itself, through the stand of its public members from making a recommendation to the President.

The effect is that Mr. Roosevelt, before or after election, will have to make a one-man decision affecting the incomes of an estimated 20 million Americans and with possible repercussions on all other citizens. Through the mechanics of the stabilization program, Mr. Roosevelt could make this decision anyway, but he would be helped in the public mind if he had some backing from the agency that was appointed to handle the wartime wage problem.

Heat applied to President

Thus “the heat” is applied to Mr. Roosevelt, in the closing weeks of his effort for a fourth term, by an agency of his own creation and with the labor members of this agency announcing they will see that the question is before him well in advance of Nov. 7.

If Mr. Roosevelt decides the issue before election, he will have to choose between pleasing or disappointing the labor groups now supporting him; and between risking a defection of labor votes or of chancing an inflationary rise in cost-of-living prices affecting other groups. If he defers the question until after election he will disappointing the labor spokesmen, including Philip Murray of the CIO and George Meany of the AFL, who have shown a determination to get the issue on the presidential desk by the end of next week.

The WLB directed public members to submit the first draft of their report on the cost of living and inequities between wages and prices next Tuesday and then recessed until that date, thus delaying by five more days, at least, Board action to speed the report to the White House.

Labor to fight delays

The labor group of WLB had declared it will not wait for the lengthy processes of the board, including consultation with other government bureaus concerned with stabilization, but will send its plea directly to the White House. This would be contrary to bureau procedure, but would concentrate the heat where the labor spokesmen think it would have most effect.

Board has ‘failed’ President

The labor members of WLB declared:

The wage-earners of this country are entitled to know, and to know now, in direct and specific language, what this board intends to recommend to the President. By dodging this responsibility with another factfinding report, the Board has demonstrated a timidity unworthy of men charged with so important a phase of our war activities.

The President has relied upon the Board to advise him in matters affecting wage stabilization. At a crucial moment in the administration of that policy, the Board has failed him.

Industries with dispute cases with unions before the WLB are alarmed at the Board’s apparent determination to decide pending cases under present stabilization policies “immediately” after completing its report to the President.

The Pittsburgh Press (October 15, 1944)


Perkins: Employers still denied right to call election

New ruling unlikely before Nov. 7
By Fred W. Perkins, Pittsburgh Press staff writer

Washington – (Oct. 14)
Another labor controversy not likely to be settled before election” Whether employers are to be given a share of the rights now enjoyed by unions under administration of the Wagner Act by the National Labor Relations Board.

The question has been pending since May 19, when NLRB held a hearing in which spokesmen for practically all branches of organized labor opposed vigorously a suggested change in the Board’s rules to grant employers the right, on expiration of a contract with a labor union, and in the absence of a contest by another union, to petition for a collective bargaining election to determine whether the certified union still has a majority in the plant.

NLRB’s five-month delay in deciding the question, it was learned today, is due partly to its inability to reach an agreement on the general question with the War Labor Board.

Morse urges revision

Wayne L. Morse, former public member of the War Labor Board, now a Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from Oregon, has attacked exclusion of employers from rights under the Wagner Act as it is now administered. He has declared for legislative revision of this act, but the particular point now long-pending could be handled without any more law – merely by a change in regulations.

Denial to employers of the right to petition for an election (which the National Labor Relations Board would reserve the right to deny) has been charged with bringing on the Montgomery-Ward seizure last spring, although it has been admitted that Sewell L. Avery, head of the company, might have found another line of attack on government policies.

Union delayed election

In this case the company contended the union did not represent a majority of employees in the affected plants, and the union delayed its own petition for an election to determine the question. Finally, the election was ordered, the union won, and the company contended too many units had been included in the election.

Gerard V. Reilly, member of NLRB, proposed the change in the Board’s rules, without reference to the Montgomery-Ward case. In a recent opinion dissenting with the other two NLRB members, he upheld the principles of his proposal.

Agencies in conflict

Correspondence between Mr. Reilly and William H. Davis, chairman of the War Labor Board, shows the conflict between the two agencies. The WLB by a majority vote of its public and labor members is disposed to recognize a union’s certification as continuous during the war period. The NLRB, under the Reilly proposal, would require periodic proofs that a majority of the employees want the union to continue as bargaining agent.

NLRB is a permanent government agency, under the law. WLB is a temporary agency for the war period, under the law, but appears to be the dominant organization in labor-regulatory circles. The present government setup provides no way out of a stalemate when these two agencies are in disagreement – except through presidential action.

The Pittsburgh Press (October 17, 1944)


Perkins: Republicans’ apathy costing them Negro vote, publisher says

GOP leaders warned to get on job or group will go 2–1 for Roosevelt
By Fred W. Perkins, Pittsburgh Press staff writer

Washington –
The Republican Party, with the best program on paper for the Negro people, is failing to drive its arguments home with the rank and file of colored voters in the key and doubtful states, according to one of their spokesmen here today.

Alexander Barnes, manager of the Washington Tribune, a Negro newspaper published here warned Republican leaders verbally and through his publication that unless more direct work is done with the mass of Negro voters, they “will go almost 2–1 for President Roosevelt.”

Describing himself as a Dewey supporter, this publisher said it was the general opinion among people who have studied political and economic conditions among Negroes that without a better Republican effort, the Negro votes in such cities as New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Chicago may swing one or more of the doubtful states of New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

Dewey effort expected

The Washington publisher said that Governor Thomas E. Dewey has made only incidental references to the Negro subject so far but that there are reports the Republican nominee plans to go into it at more length before he ends his campaign.

Meanwhile, the CIO Political Action Committee is making a special point of registering Negro voters in the industrial sections, and much Democratic argument is being directed at them.

A survey just completed by a non-political agency shows that leading Negro newspapers among the more than 200 published in this country are almost evenly divided in their support of President Roosevelt or Governor Dewey.

Field workers bungling

Mr. Barnes said he had recently visited all the important centers of Negro population in the Northern industrial states, and reported “all is not well in the Republican ranks because of the alleged apathy and ineptness in the work among Negro voters.” and “that the bungling of the campaign stem: from the Negro brain-trusters working with the Republican National Committee.”

He pointed out, however, “that there is still time to let the Negro have the facts. Experienced campaigners can be put to work and a wavering Negro vote convinced that Dewey is the man. Thousands of party workers are willing to volunteer their services if the bigwigs will permit them to go to work in traditional Republican fashion.”

‘Tricks’ alarm Negroes

An editorial in the Washington Tribune stated that paper “has not yet decided which candidate it will urge its readers to support, but has become unduly alarmed at the strange tricks which are being played. The Democrats ditched Wallace, and then, from information received this week, the Republicans put two men in to woo the Negro vote who are cold, indifferent, unconcerned and even insolent, at times, when Negroes approach them about aiding in the election of their man.”

The “two men” were identified as Negro leaders with whom some others do not agree on campaign tactics.

The Tribune editor’s idea is that:

Mr. Dewey needs a campaign that is going to bring the issues down to earth. He needs a campaign that is going to let the Negro in the pool rooms, the beer gardens, the fields and the farms, and in the coal mines, know that he stands for justice for all men.

The Pittsburgh Press (October 18, 1944)


Perkins: Labor eases demands for ruling on pay

Roosevelt unlikely to act before election
By Fred W. Perkins, Pittsburgh Press staff writer

Washington (UP) –
Now that the presidential candidates have reached the stage of pulling “facts” on each other, the following facts are presented from the record with regard to whether President Roosevelt will feel it his duty to order an upward revision of wage standards before Election Day.

A week ago, the public members of the War Labor Board decided they would make no recommendation to the President on this dynamic question, but would merely present a factual report on the situation and let him make the decision. Whereupon the labor members of the Board roundly condemned the public members. Two CIO representatives announced a determination to get the question to the President by next Saturday – about two weeks before the election.

But yesterday the labor members, CIO as well as AFL, went along with the public WLB members in deciding that the latter should have until a week from today to submit to the full board their ideas on what should be contained in their report to the President. The labor members’ determination for a quick presidential decision has cooled off. Under the schedule to which they agreed there will be hardly any chance for a ruling by Mr. Roosevelt before the Nov. 7 balloting.

So, the union members and other wage-earners who have been looking for an early and final presidential decision on the case will have to wait until after Nov. 7.

Mr. Roosevelt will be spared the embarrassment of making a decision that (a) would alienate some of his labor support, or (b) risk upsetting the anti-inflationary applecart.

The Pittsburgh Press (October 21, 1944)


Perkins: Rail union papers follows Dewey tack on pay issue

Weekly organ Labor headlines ‘White House Held Responsible for Adverse Decision’
By Fred W. Perkins, Pittsburgh Press staff writer

Washington –
By coincidence, Governor Thomas E. Dewey’s slam-bang labor speech in Pittsburgh last night, with much of it directed toward railway workers, is followed today by some uncomplimentary remarks about the Roosevelt Administration in Labor, weekly organ of 15 railroad labor organizations.

The article is headlined.

  • “Labor Disappointed Over Failure To Change ‘Little Steel’ Formula”
  • “White House Held Responsible for Adverse Decision”
  • “‘FD’ Had Given Union Chiefs Definite Impression That He Favored Change”
  • “Workers Lose Billions”
  • “Talk About Action ‘After the Election’ Branded ‘Just s Goldbrick’ by Meany” (George Meany, secretary-treasurer of the AFL)

The spectacular charge by Governor Dewey that “Bronx Boss” Ed Flynn was employed as counsel by some of the railway brotherhoods in last winter’s railway wage row was not news to railway labor leaders here, although the size of the fee alleged by the Republican candidate ($25,000) was not generally known. Mr. Flynn appeared in preliminary proceedings in Chicago, but was not publicly in the picture when the controversy shifted to Washington.

Whitney hired Flynn

Railway labor executives said Mr. Flynn was employed on the initiative of A. F. Whitney of Cleveland, president of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen and an outspoken Roosevelt supporter.

Recounting the history of the War Labor Board’s decision to make only a fact-finding report with no recommendations to the White House on a change in the national wage policy, the Labor article stated: “In labor circles, the general impression is that the action was in line with instructions from the White House.”

Election cited as factor

Recounting that labor leaders had an early impression that President Roosevelt favored a relaxation of wage control; that CIO President Philip Murray, after a White House conference, predicted an early change; but that “foes of labor,” identified as the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “laid down a barrage against relaxation of the wage shackles,” the paper said:

Evidently, the Chief Executive, nearing an election, felt he could not face such an attack, even though the interests behind it were those which always opposed the major features of the “New Deal” program.

Thereafter, a change in front occurred. The White House and “FD’s” lieutenants started throwing cold water on the idea of modifying wage controls – at least until after the election.

Meany calls it ‘goldbrick’

Mr. Meany was quoted as saying:

A promise to lift wage controls after “V-E [Victory in Europe] Day” is just a goldbrick so far as the workers are concerned. It won’t mean anything to them.

Mr. Meany based his statement on the premise that with V-E Day:

War contracts will be canceled right and left. Layoffs of millions of workers will start. Other millions will be reduced to shorter working hours. One would have to be gullible, indeed, to believe that employers at such a time will raise wages, even if the administration says they should. In fact, that’s when they will try to cut wages.

Mr. Meany is an AFL member of the War Labor Board and voted against the majority, made up of public and management members, who favored no recommendation, but only a presentation of facts and statistics, to the President. CIO members belligerently threatened to place the issue on the President’s desk without regard to the Board’s procedure, but have cooled off in this determination – reportedly because they were informed such action would work against the reelection chances of the candidate they are supporting.

The Pittsburgh Press (October 22, 1944)


Perkins: The ‘annual-wage’ issue

By Fred W. Perkins, Press Washington correspondent

Washington –
The question of whether or not American industry can or should guarantee an annual wage or steady work the year around to wage earners isn’t exactly an election issue, but at the same time it has some connection with the balloting Nov. 7.

Neither major party platform covers the subject, nor has it been dealt with specifically by either the Republican or Democratic candidate for President. But with the increasing attention being given to the right of the man who works for wages to some assurance of a dependable income, it is conceivable that the post-war period will include a real drive toward an objective that authorities agree would represent a great advance in the industrial and economic life of this country.

So, the question related to the election is whether President Roosevelt or Governor Dewey would be most likely to espouse this idea and give effective national leadership to it.

Mr. Roosevelt’s friends will argue that he is the man for this particular job, because of his labor record.

Mr. Dewey’s supporters will counter with the argument that their candidate is more likely to be successful in assuring steady work for all, as the full sympathy and cooperation of business would be required to reach this objective without government coercion; that Mr. Dewey could be relied on to enlist business support, and Mr. Roosevelt couldn’t.

Nunn-Bush plan

Recent evidence of interest in the guaranteed wage or steady work idea was a discussion by radio on America’s Town Meeting of the Air.

One of the two speakers on the “pro” side was Henry L. Nunn, shoe manufacturer of Milwaukee.

He said:

On July 3, 1935, management and the workers in our Milwaukee factory signed what might be called a share-the-production and 52-paychecks-per-year agreement.

Over good times and bad, it was found that production wages had maintained a more or less constant percentage of the value of business done, so it was agreed that this share, determined by experience, should be the basis for dividing the value of production between the workers and the company. We established drawing accounts for our workers, based on estimated annual income – one fifty-second to be withdrawn each and every week. Adjustment with actual earnings is made monthly.

Nine years in effect

It was a thoroughly new concept. No longer was the company buying labor as a commodity. The innovation made a common enterprise of the business, Sharing the value of production with the workers.

For more than nine years these workers have received an annual income which, we have reason to believe, is much more than the average for the industry. For 482 consecutive weeks, these workers have received a paycheck, regardless of how many hours were worked.

The Nunn-Bush Shoe Company’s plan varies from others in various enterprises that have found it possible and practicable (and according to what they say, very wise) to guarantee steady pay or steady work. The Procter & Gamble Company in Cincinnati has a different plan, and the Hormel Packing Company’s plan is different from both. There are plenty of plans, but so far they have been applied only in individual enterprises, and no attempt has been made to adopt the idea for huge industries such as coal mining or steel manufacturing or auto production.

CIO speaker

The other favoring speaker on the Town Meeting program was Harold J. Ruttenberg, research director of the CIO United Steel Workers, who gave most of his attention to the annual-wage demand in the current wage case of that union before the War Labor Board. He noted that his union “took the annual wage off the shelf of idle talk and put it into the arena of collective bargaining.”

However, the WLB panel was much less certain that this federal wartime agency could legally and with propriety order such a drastic step in American industry. Some opinion is that the problem will be solved eventually only through an overall organization of American industry, working voluntarily to level out the peaks and valleys that now disfigure the peacetime chart of industrial production.

The Pittsburgh Press (October 26, 1944)


More worries for New Deal –
Perkins: Two labor agencies draw fire of Roosevelt backers

‘Wishy-washy’ action of WLB on wage issue and NLRB ‘favoritism’ both assailed
By Fred W. Perkins, Pittsburgh Press staff writer

Washington –
Two federal labor agencies are under outspoken criticism today from union leaders, some of whom are in the front of the fourth-term drive for President Roosevelt.

The War Labor Board is in the line of fire because of the amount of time taken by its public members in completing a report of the relationship between prices and wages – leading up to a decision by President Roosevelt on whether the Little Steel wage formula should be broken.

The National Labor Relations Board is criticized by American Federation of Labor spokesmen for a decision announced Tuesday which apparently ignored precedents and favored the CIO in the question of how employees of the merged Western Union and Postal Telegraph systems should be organized.

Roosevelt ‘on spot’

The WLB’s partial report on the wage-price situation, already hit by the CIO, was described by George Meany, secretary-treasurer of the AFL, as “wishy-washy, lacking any recommendations whatever, put up in such a way that the President will be able to find support in it for anything he wants to do – whether to turn down the wage demand or change the formula in any one of several different ways.”

And who put the President on the spot in this matter? It was the War Labor Board, with the labor members dissenting. It was the Board’s plain duty to make some kind of a recommendation, either for or against. Instead, and after more than 10 months of involved procedure, the public members plan to do something that could be accomplished just as well by one of the panel reports already available.

Complain of delays

Chairman William H. Davis of WLB admitted that his qualified plans to get the wage case out of his agency and to the White House by Nov. 1 had been abandoned.

R. J. Thomas, president of the CIO United Auto Workers and like Mr. Meany a labor member of WLB, showed disappointment at the way things were going, and it was learned that Mr. Davis had received two telegrams from Philip Murray, president of the CIO, complaining in vigorous language against the Board’s delays.

The Murray telegrams were of such a nature that Mr. Davis declined to make them public. And it was learned that after the telegrams were dispatched CIO leaders telephoned Mr. Davis, asking that the messages not be given to the press.

Political maneuver?

This latter procedure was regarded as part of the political maneuverings in the wage case.

The CIO leaders worked strenuously until a week ago to get the wage case on the President’s desk in time for a decision before election, but they are reported to have been advised that these activities were likely to cost Mr. Roosevelt votes.

Criticism of the NLRB’s decision in the Western Union case was augmented by Mr. Meany and Joseph A. Padway, counsel for the AFL. The latter alleged “undue CIO influence in the National Labor Relations Board,” resulting in a decision favoring the CIO on the same set of facts that had previously produced a different decision.

The Pittsburgh Press (October 27, 1944)


10 days before election –
Perkins: AFL demand for decision on pay formula perils WLB

Federation withdraws from board hearings; dispute may cost Roosevelt labor votes
By Fred W. Perkins, Pittsburgh Press staff writer

Washington –
Ten days ahead of election, the National War Labor Board was plunged today into apparently the most serious of its periodic crises, with the possibility that it may get worse and affect some labor votes for President Roosevelt.

The American Federation of Labor members have withdrawn from settlement of wage cases involving the “Little Steel” formula until the Board makes a report or recommendation to the President on the proposal of the Board’s labor members that this yardstick be broken.

The danger of further cleavage in this wartime agency was indicated by a statement of George Meany, secretary-treasurer of the AFL and a board member, that Chairman William H. Davis “invited us to withdraw, period.” The intimation was that the withdrawal might become complete, which would break up this 12-member agency organized on a basis of equal representation for the public, management and labor, and with the labor members divided between the AFL and the CIO.

But Mr. Meany declared:

We have not considered this invitation to withdraw and we are not considering it. We just haven’t done anything about it.

Chairman Davis said, “I certainly did not invite the AFL members to withdraw from the board,” but he added that members, including those representing labor, ought to abide by the majority decisions and accept their share of responsibility for the board’s actions.

Mr. Davis said he could see no similarity between this situation and the one in 1940, when John L. Lewis broke up the National Defense Mediation Board (predecessor of WLB) by withdrawing the CIO members.

CIO eases pressure

The background of the situation:

Both CIO and AFL members of the WLB pressed with full vigor until about a week ago to get the wage question to the White House, in ample time for Mr. Roosevelt to make a decision before election. The CIO members supporting the President for reelection, suddenly took off, the pressure, and then the AFL members, who are not declared supporters of Mr. Roosevelt, began to put it on.

The CIO members were informed, according to statements in labor circles, that their pressure for a presidential wage decision just before election was likely to lose votes for the candidate they are supporting.

Rank and file restive

The AFL members, led by Mr. Meany, seem to be under no such political inhibition, and would like the heat applied to the White House as far as possible in advance of the election.

Rank-and-file union members, in many states and of both CIO and AFL, are reported restive under the maneuvers by which the WLB has delayed a decision on the wage question for many months and now is in position to put it off until after election.

The WLB setup of equal representation from the public, management and labor is being challenged by some labor authorities who contend that labor questions as well as all others should be determined only by representatives of the public.

The Pittsburgh Press (October 29, 1944)


‘The Voice’ gives $5,000 –
Perkins: Clothing firms backing PAC with cash

All employ members of Hillman’s union
By Fred W. Perkins, Pittsburgh Press staff writer

Washington –
A report on file today with Congress, as required by the Corrupt Practices Act, by the CIO-sponsored National Citizens Political Action Committee (a twin of the other PAC), shows more than a score of clothing manufacturers as contributors of $100 to $500 each to this organization for reelection of President Roosevelt.

These manufacturers are members of the industry in which the dominant union is the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, of which the president is Sidney Hillman, who is also chairman of both Political Action Committees. Some of the concerns listed as contributors were the following, all in New York City: Acme Pants Company, Topp Overcoat Company, W&C Clothing Company, Carlyle Clothes, Winshire Clothes and Dutchess Slacks Companies.

No corporations on list

According to their listing, none of the contributing concerns are corporations. The Corrupt Practices Act makes it an offense for “any corporation whatever” to make a political contribution in connection with a national election, and also forbids any political committee to receive such contributions. The law makes no mention of business concerns not organized as corporations.

Total contributions up to Oct. 23 to the Political Action Committee were given as $271,531, in comparison with the $1,500,000 which Chairman Hillman announced in August might be raised. Of the total contributed, $29,614 represented unlisted gifts of less than $100. Among the largest contributors was Frank Sinatra, “The Voice,” who was down for $5,000.

Union donations curbed

The Corrupt Practices Act, as amended by the War Labor Disputes Act, also makes it a punishable offense for “any labor organization” to contribute in connection with national elections.

Another report just received by Congress shows that the International Ladies Garment Workers Union Campaign Committee for Roosevelt and Truman had collected $85,237 up to Oct. 24, almost entirely from campaign committees of local unions and of joint boards representing various associations of workers in the women’s garment industry. The largest contribution listed was $27,500 from the New York Joint Board Cloak Makers Union Campaign Committee.

The Ladies Garment Workers Campaign Committee listed expenditures up to the date of the report totaling $68.165, including a contribution of $35,000 to the Liberal Party of New York, David Dubinsky is president of the union and is also active in the Liberal Party, which was created after a left-wing group, with the cooperation of Mr. Hillman, took over control of the American Labor Party in New York.

PAC held within law

Mr. Dubinsky and others called this week on President Roosevelt to arrange for a great rally in Madison Square Garden at the close of the campaign.

Arguments are expected in Congressional committees after the campaign on whether any of these activities violate the spirit or the letter of the law.

Attorney General Francis Biddle has ruled repeatedly that activities of the Political Action Committee were within the law.

The reports to Congress also show that Republican fundraisers have not been idle. For instance, the Republican Finance Committee of Pennsylvania reports that on Oct. 25 it had collected $912,713 to add to a balance of $18,274, making a 1944 fund of $930,987. It had spent $609,477. Among the large contributors were members of the Pew and DuPont families, and also former Senator Joseph Grundy.