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Analyzing the speech of John L. Lewis endorsing Willkie, Russell Nixon stressed Saturday that it was not a "fly-by-night move but a calculated action" designed to restore labor's independence as a political bargainer, Nixon, as instructor in Economics is State Secretary of Labor's Non-Partisan League, the political arm of the CIO.
Indicating that the decision of the CIO chieftain was motivated by a whole cluster of considerations, Nixon maintained that it was not a sell-out as it had been interpreted by some.
"Lewis is sincerely convinced that support of F. D. R. is the path to war," said Nixon, since his election might be interpreted as a mandate of labor to proceed along that course.
States Labor's Grievances
Moreover, labor has specific grievances against the President, suggested the Harvard labor expert. Organized labor was prominent in winning the 1936 victory for the New Deal, and certain commitments and support to Lewis and the CIO might have been expected as "only logical repayments." But these have not been forthcoming. It has, for example, taken seventeen months of intensive lobbying to persuade President Roosevelt to write House Leader McCormack in favor of the Mine Safety Bill.
Nixon stressed that the Lewis declaration was not so much pro-Willkie as anti-Roosevelt. The shaggy-haired head miner feels that the President does not really represent labor, and that continued support of Roosevelt by organized workers would tend to tie them to the Democratic party. Lewis believes, according to Nixon, that the long run interest of labor lies in keeping independent of both parties.
In the immediate future, labor's bargaining power may well be strengthened, the Economics instructor said. Republicans must justify Lewis' endorsement, presumably by personnel commitments and by Steel's recognition of the CIO through contracts. The Democrats, on the other hand, will have to concentrate their efforts on wooing back the defected union followers of the Willkie-walking leader.
As for the long run, Nixon doubts that Lewis and Willkie are permanently mated, and feels that the CIO president may by 1944 be ready for a third-party move. This will particularly be the case if the next administration--whether Roosevelt's or Willkie's--does not "come through" as far as Lewis and labor are concerned. "It may be necessary to learn the hard way that a labor party is needed," Nixon stated.
Instructor in Economics 81, Labor Problems, Nixon noted with surprised that, among members of the course present Saturday, there was not one Willkie supporter. He himself was wearing a button in his lapel, but it was not for Roosevelt or Willkie; it was an emblem of the Anti-Profanity League, which Nixon joined on Friday, though he "swears" his action had no connection with the Lewis address.
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