Franklin D. Roosevelt

Excerpts from the Press Conference

May 25, 1934

Q. Mr. President, anything you care to say about the strike situation?

THE PRESIDENT: I don't think so. I think I had better not. It is awfully difficult to say anything without going into details and differentiations. I think it is better I should not. We are all working on it, as you know.

Q. You still need legislation of the type of the Wagner bill dealing with this?

THE PRESIDENT: It would be very helpful. There is no question about that. It would be very helpful, because it would clarify administrative procedure and at the same time would create methods that were perfectly clear under the law. In the individual strike cases people would know exactly the procedure on both sides—whom they come under, and to whom they go, and what authority there is in any given case.

Q. Is it fair to assume, then, that you want this legislation this Session?

THE PRESIDENT: I would like to have it very much. I think it would be helpful. I think you had better put this off the record.

Q. What you are saying now?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, what I am saying now. It would be perfectly all right to say I am in favor of this legislation and hope it will go through; but, off the record, you all know that in any period of this kind, with a return of prosperity and reemployment and with an increase in values, you are bound to have more strikes. I look for a great many strikes in the course of this summer, a good many more. It is a normal and logical thing. I think I have said this before at a strike conference. They are brought about by a great many causes.

For instance, keeping this again entirely off the record, in this Toledo case the strike originated with only 400 employees in one factory, but there are a lot of other factors involved. They had pretty serious political trouble where a lot of graft and misgovernment, etc., was shown in the city. The result was that the population as a whole "got sore." It wasn't just these 400 men.

Yesterday, when this crowd of between 5,000 and 10,000 people started, they were, as a body, "sore" at certain definite people. As they went along, they would throw stones at one particular factory or shop, and then they would go along past several other factories or shops they were not "sore at," and then they would pick out the next fellow at whom they were "sore."

Charlie Taft telephoned to Miss Perkins about two hours ago and made the point that it is not an indiscriminatory strike; it is a strike against people they are "sore at," and it is not just the 400 strikers; it is a very large element of the population.

So each case really has to be taken up on the merits of that particular, individual case. There is no general statement that can be made relating to it. Miss Perkins used a parallel which, of course, has got to be entirely off the record. She said in conference today that it is not a general revolutionary feeling but a feeling against certain old-line politicians and a feeling against certain industrialists. It is a pretty discriminating opposition. It is based on reason of some kind.

In the Toledo situation, of course, the one thing that all of us ought to appreciate and write about is that there are methods of settlement, and that the attitude of employers in many cases has been so autocratic. Take, for instance, the man who said, in one of the papers this morning, that he would consider that he was demeaning himself if he sat in the same room with William Green. Now that kind of autocratic attitude on the part of a steel company official does not make for working things out. On the other hand, there are people on the other end of the camp, the labor end, who are just as autocratic ....

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

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