Franklin D. Roosevelt

Letter of Greeting to the Annual Convention of the American Federation of Labor.

September 26, 1938

My dear President Green:

Will you be good enough to extend my warm greetings to those who attend the Fifty-eighth Annual Convention of the American Federation of Labor? I wish much that I could accept your very kind invitation to the Convention but in these critical days Houston is, for me, a little too far from Washington.

During your lifetime and mine a vast improvement in the conditions of labor and the pay of labor in many occupations in most parts of the country has been brought about. This has come about largely through the efforts of organized labor. But much still remains to be done.

Collective bargaining is one of the most useful devices for fair and constructive human relations and collective bargaining in the industrial field presupposes some kind of organization of employees to conduct their part of such bargaining.

I hope you will give attention to the matter which I am always concerned about, namely, finding ways for steady employment of labor and increasing the annual purchasing power. It is what a worker earns for himself and his family in the course of a year which is important, not only for his own economic plan for his life, but for the economic life of the nation. In many sections and in many occupations which fall under the general classification of labor, there are millions of Americans who suffer from inadequate pay or over-long hours, or both.

Because for more than a quarter of a century I have had so many associations and friendships with officers of the American Federation of Labor and of the International Unions which it represents, I venture to express the hope that the Convention will leave open every possible door of access to peace and progress in the affairs of organized labor in the United States. If leaders of organized labor can make and keep the peace among Various opinions and factions within the labor group itself, it will vastly increase the prestige of labor with the country and prevent the reaction which otherwise is bound to injure the workers themselves.

I commend to all representatives of labor and management the reading of the report on relations between employers and employees in England and in Sweden, which has been made by a number of prominent Americans during the past summer. The outstanding feature of this report is that in both these Countries cooperation, compromise and labor peace seem to be the rule rather than the exception.

I hope the Federation will have a highly successful Convention and that you will ever keep before you the American ideals of greater social and economic security.

Very sincerely yours,

Honorable William Green,

President, American Federation of Labor,

Washington, D. C.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter of Greeting to the Annual Convention of the American Federation of Labor. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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