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Letter on the N.R.A.

August 24, 1935

My dear Mr. Chairman:

Reports upon industrial conditions, covering the short period in which commerce and industry have been functioning without 'the' advantage of the codes of fair competition, have been received by me from the National Recovery Administration. Nob withstanding successful and praiseworthy efforts being made by many employers to maintain standards of employment, these indicate a tendency toward serious impairment of established standards by a minority. To place these facts before your Committee, I am transmitting herewith certain information substantiating this conclusion. As additional evidence is gathered, I shall continue to furnish it to your Committee to lay as broad a factual base as possible for your consideration of the problems involved. The National Recovery Administration is also making a general survey of the results so far obtained under the National Industrial Recovery Act.

It does not seem possible to complete this work in time for its use at the present session of the Congress. In the short time remaining, it seems impracticable to ask the Congress to give consideration to an industrial statute of broad import. If your Committee staff could be delegated to analyze, during the coming months, the material collected, I believe adequate data would be made available for a thorough understanding of the complex situation confronting industry and labor. With this done, your Committee could meet, in the fall, for hearings and the formulation of proposed legislation for preserving permanently to the Nation such social and economic advantages as were gained through previous emergency enactments. This would enable you to offer at the opening of the coming session, a well-considered program for Congressional action.

Pending determination by the Congress of whether further industrial legislation will be enacted, it is hoped that industrial groups will, in increasing numbers, avail themselves of the provisions of the Joint Resolution extending National Industrial Recovery Administration which permit agreements (1) putting into effect the requirements of Section 7-A, minimum wages, maximum hours and prohibition of child labor, and (2) prohibiting unfair competitive practices which offend against existing law. Such agreements, when approved by the President, as to matters covered by the Joint Resolution, are exempted expressly from the penalties of the anti-trust laws, including criminal prosecutions, injunctions and treble damages. By such action, industry can undoubtedly do much to preserve the very substantial gains made while the codes were in effect. Applications for approval of such agreements should be filed with the Federal Trade Commission.

Industry may continue to take advantage of the familiar trade practice conference procedure of the Federal Trade Commission.

It will be my purpose during the adjournment of Congress to call into conference representatives of management, labor and consumers in the hope that discussion will create among them a general agreement as to the best means of accelerating industrial recovery and the elimination of unemployment. I am hopeful that such an effort will be successful, especially in view of the definite manifestation of interest by all in the solution of these problems.

I am sending a similar letter to the Honorable Robert L. Doughton, Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, House of Representatives. May I request that consideration be given by your Committee toward adopting a plan conformable to these suggestions and, if possible, correlating the activities of the respective Senate and House Committees?

Very sincerely yours,

Honorable Pat Harrison,

Chairman, Finance Committee,

United States Senate,

Washington, D. C.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter on the N.R.A. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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