Albert Harris to Eleanor Roosevelt

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Albert Harris to Eleanor Roosevelt

28 August 1947 [New York City]

Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

I wish to take issue with you as to some of the statements in your column "Nobody's Business" as reported in the New York World Telegram on August 25, 1947.8

You object to labor leaders being compelled to declare themselves communists and state "we had better do the same for the heads of business". Since communists are certainly the enemies of democracy, we certainly ought to list those enemies where those communists are labor union leaders or business leaders. If there were any danger at the present time or if there is any such danger that business leaders are dangerous to democracy either as communists or fascists, they should certainly be listed.9

You also object to the Taft-Hartley Act limiting the union's right to expel members to the ground of non-payment of dues and claim that management has dismissed employees because of union membership. Certainly under the Wagner Act and the other government regulations, management has been prevented or punished for dismissing "employees because of union membership". This limitation on management's powers was quite proper because of the abuse of management of its powers. Your illustration is obviously not in point because management does not have the power you claim. You claim in effect that because y wrong is allowed, therefore, x wrong should be allowed, but y wrong is punished. To continue your analogy, x wrong (abuse by unions) should be punished. In addition one would expect you to take the position that all wrong should be punished wherever found and if certain wrongs are not punished, that should be no reason for permitting other wrongs to the unpunished.10

You claim that it is an "infringement of our liberties, to set up for a union, in the matter of health and welfare funds, restrictions for the administration of these funds". Then you state "the employer contributes toward them, but he contributes in order that his employees may be able to accomplish through their organization the things that they desire". Your statement just is not so. The contributions made by the employer are made under agreements which provide that the money is to be used for certain specific purposes and the union has agreed to apply the funds for the specific purposes. Employers have always objected being blackjacked into paying funds into union treasuries which may be used for any purpose whatsoever determined by the union membership or by the union officials who have achieved control of union treasuries. The only "infringement of our liberties" is the infringement of violation of contract. If the union membership should contribute its own funds to a union fund and give the union officials complete liberty of disposal of the funds, then the employers and even the union membership might not be privileged to object, but when employers contribute funds for specific purposes, it is certainly an infringement upon the liberties of the employers to be deprived of the right of compelling the unions to abide by their express agreements.11

                                         Very truly yours,

                                         Albert Harris