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"My business was great; and in such a case as mine a man may strain courtesy." . . . Romeo and Juliet
During the past week the General Motors corporation has been so busy proving itself legally right that it disregarded the fact that most of the country was proving it morally wrong. The curt refusal of Mr. Sloan to sit in on a conference with Miss Perkins and the labor leaders has done more damage to his cause than a hundred rabid speeches by Mr. Lewis ever could.
Legally Mr. Sloan has an air-tight case. He does not need a General Motors corporation lawyer to prove that, even to the most enthusiastic sympathizer with labor. The workers have no lawful right to "sit down" in his factories without his permission. Mr. Sloan's trouble is that he and his business associates fail to realize that strict legal tenets no longer have the hold on public opinion that they had years ago. Industrialists can no longer be as reposeful and uncompromising as they were in the "golden age". Their motto: "My property is my property," is as dead as Mark Hanna. Or Justice Sutherland.
Efforts to conceal the historic hostility of General Motors towards unionized labor are becoming ever more futile. The workers have occupied the plants because they have no other weapon for bargaining. If Mr. Sloan would only be honest enough to concede this point, negotiations would be much easier for himself, Mr. Lewis, Secretary Perkins, and every one else concerned.
The apparent reasonableness of the General Motors officials at the beginning of the strike won for them sympathy throughout the country. Their subsequent behaviour has done much to dissolve this, Sir Galahad cannot flirt with such a prostitute as the Flint Alliance without losing some of his purity. Mr. Sloan has proven his own worst enemy. If, as now seems probable, he is forced by President Roosevelt or Congress to sit down at the conference table he will find his position badly undermined by an arrogance which has no place in modern industrial relations.
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