Franklin D. Roosevelt

Excerpts from the Press Conference

October 03, 1934

Q. Any plans for taking up the annual wage question referred to in your speech Sunday night?

THE PRESIDENT: The annual wage thing?

Q. Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: You mean the annual wage to Government employees?

Q. Insuring workmen an annual income.

THE PRESIDENT: I don't think I mentioned that, did I, in the speech?

Q. Yes, sir; you spoke of the inadequacy or possible inadequacy of wage minimums for a given short length of time such as a week or an hour or two, to establish living standards.

THE PRESIDENT: That I merely mentioned as one of the things people are beginning to think about.

Q. Would you call it an immediate problem?

THE PRESIDENT: Frankly, I don't know. I just mentioned it as something people are thinking about. As a matter of fact, when I first dictated that speech the other day I had an example which would have made more clear that phase of the wage problem.

Last winter, as you will recall, the automobile workers were down here. They were a pretty young crowd, most of those fellows were about thirty-five years or along there. I said to one of them, "What are you getting? What is your hourly wage?" He said, "A dollar and a quarter an hour." I said, "Eight hours?" He said, "Yes, sir." I said, "That is $10 a day?" He said, "Yes, sir; that is right." I said, "It seems to me that is a pretty good wage. What are you, a machinist? .... Yes, sir." I said, "I think that is a pretty good wage."

Then he said, "Mr. President, that is a pretty good wage, yes, but last year I only worked 65 days. My total gross income was $650."

I think that particular story emphasizes the thought better than anything else that you or I can use as to the reason for thinking in terms of how much a fellow gets by December 31st instead of how much he gets per hour. That is what I was driving at. . . .

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Excerpts from the Press Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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