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Lift your lamp beside the golden door, Break not the golden rule, avoid well the golden calf, know; not all that glitters is gold, and laissez faire et laissez passer [let do and let pass] but as a shining sentinel, hesitate not to ring the bell, defend the gates, and man the wall

Friday, April 15, 2011

FDR's Letter to Luther C. Steward about Public Sector Unions

August 16, 1937

My dear Mr. Steward:

As I am unable to accept your kind invitation to be present on the occasion of the Twentieth Jubilee Convention of the National Federation of Federal Employees, I am taking this method of sending greetings and a message.
Reading your letter of July 14, 1937, I was especially interested in the timeliness of your remark that the manner in which the activities of your organization have been carried on during the past two decades "has been in complete consonance with the best traditions of public employee relationships." Organizations of Government employees have a logical place in Government affairs.
The desire of Government employees for fair and adequate pay, reasonable hours of work, safe and suitable working conditions, development of opportunities for advancement, facilities for fair and impartial consideration and review of grievances, and other objectives of a proper employee relations policy, is basically no different from that of employees in private industry. Organization on their part to present their views on such matters is both natural and logical, but meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government.
All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.
Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable. It is, therefore, with a feeling of gratification that I have noted in the constitution of the National Federation of Federal Employees the provision that "under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government."
I congratulate the National Federation of Federal Employees the twentieth anniversary of its founding and trust that the convention will, in every way, be successful.
Very sincerely yours,


Mr. Luther C. Steward,
National Federation of Federal Employees,
10 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C.


APP Note: Although this letter appears to be signed, "Very sincerely yours, Mr. Luther C. Steward, President, National Federation of Federal Employees, 10 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C.," the letter is from Roosevelt to Steward. The placement of the addressee's name and address at the bottom of the document was an editorial decision in the original "Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt." The American Presidency Project's policy is to reproduce documents in their original form.


Citation: John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters,The American Presidency Project[online]. Santa Barbara, CA. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=15445.


Read more at the American Presidency Project:Franklin D. Roosevelt: Letter on the Resolution of Federation of Federal Employees Against Strikes in Federal Servicehttp://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=15445#ixzz1Ja9pPUDY


In the current political climate the issue of public sector unions [that is unionization of govt. workers] has become an issue, [using colloquial misnomers of political affiliation] the left has claimed the right to be working to destroy "Collective Bargaining Rights", making no distinction between Public & Private Sector, Unions. The right has blanketly stated that FDR [The Father of the Modern Union] was against Govt. Sector Unions. Upon investigation, this letter has shown that FDR believed that govt. workers should be set apart to the point that they be prohibited from striking; I'll leave the particulars to nuanced interpretation.

-Asderathos, 4-15-2011

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