Labor in Government

April 29, 1943

Report Outline
Labour Demands for Represenation in Government
Labor's Minor Role in 1917–18 War Organization
Trade Union Representation in Present Administration

Labour Demands for Represenation in Government

Since commencement of the national defense program in 1940, labor leaders have made repeated demands for full and effective representation of the trade union movement in administrative agencies of the federal government, and particularly in those agencies concerned with problems of production. These demands were put forward with increased emphasis and frequency after the United States entered the war in December, 1941, and are being pressed with renewed vigor at the present time. While phrased in various terms, the content and context of the majority of these demands indicate that (1) organized labor desires the appointment to policy-making and operating positions of men who will act as direct representatives of the labor movement, (2) labor is dissatisfied with the present degree of trade-union participation in government, with labor spokesmen limited largely to membership on advisory committees, and (3) labor would not be satisfied if men with trade union backgrounds were appointed to high public office to function primarily as public servants, rather than as direct spokesmen for the trade union movement.

Demands for Representation by C. I. O. and A. F. L.

Speaking at New York on April 11, 1943, Philip Murray, president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, said the C. I. O. had “repeatedly urged full and equal representation of labor in all government agencies dealing with war problems,” but that such representation had not been achieved. In his opening address to the 1942 C. I. O. convention, Murray had referred specifically to the War Production Board in urging that “labor be accorded the opportunity to participate with management in the preparation of programs designed to increase the efficiency” both of the individual workers and of the nation's industrial plant. He emphasized that labor “doesn't want people appointed to measly jobs with salaries attached to them, where they are merely members of common ordinary, so-called advisory boards.” The C. I. O. wanted labor men “placed in positions of trust and responsibility.” A later session of the convention unanimously adopted a resolution on total war mobilization which reflected Murray's sentiments. The resolution received vigorous support in a floor speech by Sidney Hillman, president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, and onetime associate director of the Office of Production Management.

The 1942 convention of the American Federation of Labor unanimously adopted a resolution on war planning which stated that the federal government “should have represented on all agencies set up to control, plan or direct the national economy, representatives of the trade unions” and these representatives should be “commensurate with and proportionate to the amount of representation given to management.” The committee report on the resolution emphasized the need for “direct labor representation.” A statement issued on January 28, 1943, by the executive council of the A. F. L, attacked the limited degree of participation permitted to labor in the War Production Board. While admitting that labor had been recognized to the extent of having some of its men named “as observers” on subordinate committees, the statement called for “representatives of the organized workers” at the top levels of “operation and policy-making.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Labor Unions
Aug. 07, 2015  Unions at a Crossroads
Sep. 02, 2005  Labor Unions' Future Updated
Jun. 28, 1996  Labor Movement's Future
Jun. 14, 1985  Organized Labor in the 1980s
Nov. 06, 1981  Labor Under Siege
Mar. 24, 1978  Labor's Southern Strategy
Aug. 20, 1976  Labor's Options
Oct. 27, 1971  Organized Labor After the Freeze
Oct. 19, 1966  Labor Strife and the Public Interest
Jan. 30, 1963  Strike Action and the Law
Sep. 20, 1961  Conflicts in Organized Labor
Aug. 04, 1960  Labor, Management, and the National Interest
Dec. 16, 1959  Future of Free Collective Bargaining
Nov. 04, 1959  Featherbedding and Union Work Rules
Feb. 18, 1959  Public Intervention in Labor Disputes
Jul. 09, 1958  Suits Against Labor Unions
Nov. 13, 1957  Right-To-Work Laws
Oct. 31, 1956  Union Organizing
May 01, 1954  State Powers in Labor Relations
Oct. 02, 1953  Toward Labor Unity
Apr. 11, 1953  Industry-Wide Bargaining and Industry-Wide Strikes
Sep. 03, 1952  Labor and Politics
Mar. 25, 1950  Labor Injunctions
Jan. 25, 1950  Trade Unions and Productivity
Sep. 26, 1949  Fact-Finding Boards in Labor Disputes
Mar. 05, 1949  Closed Shop
Dec. 01, 1948  Revision of the Taft-Hartley Act
Jan. 01, 1947  Labor Unions, the Public and the Law
Oct. 09, 1946  Revision of the Wagner Act
Sep. 25, 1946  Labor Productivity
May 29, 1946  Labor Organization in the South
Jan. 30, 1946  Compulsory Settlement of Labor Disputes
May 18, 1945  Labor Policy After the War
Mar. 29, 1945  Union Maintenance
Feb. 02, 1945  Labor Relations in Coal Mining
Oct. 12, 1944  No-Strike Pledge
Sep. 16, 1944  Political Action by Organized Labor
May 30, 1944  Unionization of Foremen
Apr. 01, 1944  Dismissal Pay
Apr. 29, 1943  Labor in Government
Apr. 09, 1943  Public Regulation of Trade Unions
Nov. 19, 1941  Labor Policies of the Roosevelt Administration
Oct. 23, 1941  Closed Shop Issue in Labor Relations
Mar. 29, 1941  Labor as Partner in Production
Feb. 12, 1941  Labor and the Defense Program
Feb. 23, 1940  Labor in Politics
Jan. 17, 1939  Settlement of Disputes Between Labor Unions
Jul. 01, 1938  Three Years of National Labor Relations Act
Nov. 12, 1937  State Regulation of Labor Relations
Jul. 10, 1937  Restrictions on the Right to Strike
Apr. 28, 1937  The Labor Market and the Unemployed
Mar. 26, 1937  Control of the Sit-Down Strike
Mar. 13, 1937  Collective Bargaining in the Soft-Coal Industry
Jan. 22, 1937  Responsibility of Labor Unions
Nov. 11, 1936  Industrial Unionism and the A.F. of L.
Jul. 30, 1936  Federal Intervention in Labor Disputes
Jul. 14, 1936  Labor Relations in the Steel Industry
Apr. 17, 1934  Company Unions and Collective Bargaining
Feb. 07, 1934  Settlement of Labor Disputes
Sep. 12, 1933  Trade Unionism Under the Recovery Program
Feb. 17, 1932  Wage Concessions by Trade Unions
Oct. 01, 1929  Status of the American Labor Movement
Jul. 20, 1929  Trade Unionism in the South
Aug. 31, 1928  Organized Labor in National Politics
Feb. 04, 1928  The Use of Injunctions in Labor Disputes
Sep. 09, 1927  Organized Labor and the Works Council Movement
Oct. 12, 1923  The A.F. of L. and the “New Radicalism”
Lobbying and Special Interests
Unions and Labor-Management Relations