The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• John F. Kennedy
Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Auditorium, Union Hall, New York, NY
October 19, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Mr. Dave, Mr. Rose, leaders of unions in New York, ladies and gentlemen, I want to express my thanks to all of you. We have been up in the rain in Yonkers. We are going to do well in Yonkers and we are going to do well in New York State, and I think we are going to do well in the United States. [Applause.] If we do well in New York, it will be due in good measure to the tremendous job that was done by all of you, the Democratic Party, the citizens, the liberals and others, in providing for maximum registration and therefore for maximum participation on November 8.

This was an outstanding piece of constructive public service, and I congratulate you for the part that you played in it. We believe in a maximum extension of the right to vote. We believe in participation. We believe that everyone should vote, and I believe that if we can get a good vote out on November 8, now that we have them registered - I cannot believe in 1960, with all of the problems that this country faces at home and abroad, that the American people are going to do anything else but say "Yes" to progress, that they are going to vote, I believe, the Democratic ticket. [Applause.]

Let me say, briefly, I believe there are two points. First, those of you who are active in labor, those of you who lead organized labor movements, are concerned about the welfare of your people and concerned about the welfare of the general public, and you know very well, perhaps better than anyone, that this country still has unfinished business, that we have to maintain full employment, that we have to advance the standards of living of our people, of better housing, of better minimum wage, of medical care for the aged.

Franklin Roosevelt could put forward a minimum wage of 25 cents an hour in 1935, but that does not mean the job was finished. Ninety percent of the Republicans could vote against 25 cents an hour in 1935 just as they voted against $1.25 minimium wage in 1960. The principle is the same. It is our responsibility to bring those programs, extension of the right to vote, civil rights, minimum wage, housing, education, to increase the opportunity for all Americans to share in the abundance. And I do not share the view of the Vice President that these programs are extreme; $1.25 minimum wage, not this year, not until 1962, for those people already covered, not until 1964 for the newly covered, and still that bill was voted against by 75 to 80 percent of the Members of the House of Representatives who are Republicans.

Now, I believe the issue is quite clear in this field of social legislation. On those matters of concern to the people, matters which go to the right of a person to participate as an active citizen, because he has to live, I believe we stand on the side of the future.

Secondly, those of you who are active in organized labor are concerned about your country. You hold no narrow view, I am confident, of your position in society. You believe the labor movement and all Americans have an obligation to participate in strengthening our country, making it work, making our system move, providing employment for our people, a better standard of living, setting an example to the world.

So I appreciate your support. I can asure you we are going to keep working and I hope if we are successful on November 8, that it can be the beginning of a great movement forward in this country. Thank you. [Applause.]

Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Auditorium, Union Hall, New York, NY", October 19, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=74113.
 
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