Voters' letters tell Congress to stop strikes (4-7-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (April 7, 1941)


Washington, April 7 (by Scripps-Howard Newspaper Alliance) –
A growing volume of Congressional mail is reflecting the nation’s concern over strikes which are slowing defense production.

Senators and Representatives say the mail is not of the “inspired” type generated by some past issues, but is apparently spontaneous.

The most frequent theme of the writers is that, inasmuch as the United States has drafted thousands of young men for military service, those remaining behind should not be allowed to block industrial defense. Some letters express indignation because Congress has not passed anti-strike legislation.

Congressmen say the greatest volume comes from persons who profess friendship toward labor but who are convinced that nothing should impede defense production.

The mail appears to be heaviest from the East and the Mississippi Valley. Some Southern Representatives report only a few letters.

Letters urging that nothing be done to abridge strikers’ rights are reported by some, and others criticize both management and labor.

A constituent wrote Senator Lodge (R-MA):

The bulldoggedness of management and labor must be stopped at once or the government must take charge by drafting both labor and management into the service. My Country ‘Tis to Thee is more important than their wishes.

An Indianapolis railroad employee wrote Senator Van Nuys (D-IN):

I feel that these times demand direct action, and strikes born of jurisdictional differences and petty points of privilege especially have no place in this emergency. I cannot help but think that patriotic laboring men are being misled by their leaders and that the government owes these misled men a helping hand.

The right to strike is a fundamental constitutional right but to strike without important basic reasons is in these days a privilege – not a right – and a very costly luxury among the remaining free people of the earth.

A Methodist minister wrote Representative Monroney (D-OK):

There are those of us in the West who are wondering about this business of strikes and the apparent helplessness of the government to cope with that sort of thing I bespeak the sentiment of a lot of people when I say that we haven’t near the use for men who will hijack the government that we have for a fifth columnist.

Citizens, at a time of major emergency, should do their proper share to help, and we can’t see where they are helping by getting us by the throat in order to get higher wages.

A single sentence was the letter of another to Representative Monroney:

Mike, for God’s sake, do something about this strike situation.

Another wrote:

F— J— was in town the other day and we asked him what the administration was going to do about these strikes in our national rearmament program. He said the administration couldn’t do anything until the people’s opinion changed against the strikes.

Now we are wondering who he means by the “people.” Everyone that I have talked to, and I would venture to say everyone in the U.S., except the CIO and possibly the administration, is fed up with this kind of business.

A Syracuse man wrote Senator Mead (D-NY):

I think it’s pertinent to express my conviction that the dragon’s teeth pf class hatred sown during recent years have taken root…. A labor organization which extracts from labor a tribute of $500,000 on one government job for the privilege of working proves convincingly that no one class has a monopoly on the economic-royalist idea.

Another protested to Senator Mead against “attempts to smother the right of labor to strike for a decent wage” and criticized business for taking increased profits “without sharing with labor to meet increased costs of living.”

From Ann Arbor, a man wrote Representative Michener (R-MI):

Does Congress intend to sit idly by while union strikes, fomented by terrorists, not only tie up national defense orders but abridge the civil rights of the citizens of this nation?

A woman wrote to Representative Ramspeck (D-GA):

….on every hand it seems that they [unions] are doing their utmost to retard the national defense program, and they are as surely committing acts of sabotage as though they set off loads of dynamite in our shipyards and airplane factories.

An Ohio retailer wrote:

Sometimes we get tired of waiting for you fellows down there to do something. You as a lawmaker should at least raise your voice occasionally to stop the trend of uncalled for, deliberate sabotage of defense activity by self-seeking union labor leaders.

A Resolution of the Hicksville (OH) Grange, sent to Senator Burton (R-OH):

We believe defense strikes now so common in the country in spite of desperate danger should be outlawed and stopped.

A wire to Representative Sparkman (D-AL):

Urge you to support quick legislation to curb strikes. Situation most alarming and need to quiet professional agitators who embarass defense program.

But a petition from Alabama textile workers urged against repeal of existing labor laws or infringement of the right to strike.

From Tulia, Tex., a Congressman was advised:

If you men who represent the people do not get on a sound footing, and that mighty quick, we are going to wake up right where France is today.

A writer counseled Representative Kefauver (D-TN):

While I am not at liberty to say whether this is the fault of labor or of management. I do know something should be done to arrest further strikes. People everywhere are talking about the strike situation.

This telegram came to a Southern Senator:

Congress and you in particular are being severely criticized in this section, not only by industries but by farmers and working men as well on account of your inaction in connection with strikes at plants working on defense orders.

You know the South as a whole is practically 100 percent for total preparedness. We look to you to see that our boys in training camps are backed up, and to do this it will be necessary for the government to take some immediate drastic action.