Corporations and Politics

October 8, 1958

Report Outline
Peals for More Business Political Action
Traditional Business Political Practices
Legal Limits of Corporation Activity
Obstacles to Forceful Political Action

Peals for More Business Political Action

Business Concern Over Labor's Political Power

Political OBSERVERS are predicting that the Congress to be elected on Nov. 4, like its two predecessors, will have Democratic majorities in both houses. Failure of the Republican party, which won control of both the Executive and Legislative branches in 1952, to retain control of House or Senate after 1954, has been attributed in part to organized labor's active role in politics. That view is strongly held in business circles. It is largely responsible for an upsurge of appeals by and to corporation executives for greatly increased business participation in practical party politics.

Archie D. Gray, senior vice president of the Gulf Oil Corp., recently made such an appeal to that concern's 161,-000 employees, stockholders, and dealers. Gray said in a letter printed in the July-August number of the corporation's publication, The Orange Disc: “If we are to survive, labor's political power must now be opposed by a matching force, and there is no place in the United States where such a force can be generated except among the corporations that make up American business.” Announcing that Gulf was planning a program to push its “interest in practical politics,” Gray added: “Whether we want to be there or not, Gulf, and every other American corporation is in politics, up to its ears in politics, and we must either start swimming or drown,”

In similar vein, Thomas R. Reid, director of the Ford Motor Co.'s office of civic affairs, urged business leaders on Sept. 15 to discard the notion that “politics is a dirty word” and take the offensive against labor influence at the polls. Reid said businessmen were being “outplayed in every phase of the political game by well-organized, well-financed teams of the giant labor unions.” General Electric has been a leader among corporations advocating increased business political activity. One of its vice presidents, Lemuel R. Boulware, asserted in a speech last May 21 that business executives were being “dragged unwillingly into politics by our ideological competitors and intended executioners.” He declared that failure of business leaders to perform their political duty had led to a dangerous “imbalance of power” and to legislative action and inaction “contrary to the best interests of all the people.”

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