Franklin D. Roosevelt photo

Labor Day Statement by the President.

September 05, 1937

In A nation founded upon the honest toil of its pioneers, it is meet and fitting that a day should be set aside in special recognition of our debt to the untold millions whose labors have, in large measure, made this nation what it is today. In this year, which marks the fiftieth anniversary of Labor Day, it is especially fitting that the citizens be reminded of the importance of the workman's role in society. Then, too, Labor Day this year assumes an especial importance because of the struggle which we have been witnessing in recent months and the new emphasis placed by law and public opinion on the rights of labor and the privilege of organization.

As is usual in a controversy when opposing factors give way to basic passions, the age-old contest between capital and labor has been complicated in recent months through mutual distrust and bitter recrimination. Both sides have made mistakes. While we deplore these mistakes it is for all of us as true Americans to resolve on this day devoted to labor that we shall, by removing the cause, seek to prevent their repetition. Although human passions have been aroused during the past eight months, let us not forget that these difficulties were brought under control before they assumed more than local proportions.

Ours as a people is the duty to maintain an attitude based on sanity and reason—to work for that happy consummation when bitterness and distrust shall be replaced by mutual respect by workman and employer. The conference table must eventually take the place of the strike. There has been and continues to be urgent need to insure all able-bodied working men and women a living wage for a fair day's work. I repeat what I said in my message to the workers of the United States last year: "The wage earners of America do not ask for more. They will not be satisfied with less."

Those of us who are in government and those whom government serves must all do their part by placing at the service of capital and labor the necessary machinery to facilitate the adjustment of disputes, and thereby eliminate the need for strikes and interference with the flow of wages and of commerce. Such machinery must be perfected if we are to deal with this problem in a manner that is in keeping with Our heritage of human reason and intelligence, On the exercise of that intelligence we must base our hopes for peace.

The Government has committed itself to a very definite program in the advancement of the economic, industrial and spiritual welfare of our people. Our aim has been the advancement of human progress with industrial progress. We have attempted to create work security with reasonable wages and humane conditions of employment; to provide better homes and bring to the family life of our country new comforts and a greater happiness.

We are determined to carry on for the attainment of this objective.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Labor Day Statement by the President. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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