Franklin D. Roosevelt on Government Unions

Excerpt from letter dated August 16, 1937 from President Franklin Roosevelt to Luther C. Steward,
President, National Federation of Federal Employees:

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.

When the air traffic controllers declared a strike in 1981 President Ronald Reagan fired them. Democrats excoriated him for that, but he didn’t back down. No air traffic controller who went out on strike ever got their job back. Apparently, Democrats no longer agree with Franklin Roosevelt. One cannot imagine Barack Obama taking any such action, or agreeing with FDR on this point.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Subscribe to Blog via Email


%d bloggers like this: