[New York Times, October 8, 1941.]
Please extend my warm personal greetings to the officers and delegates attending the sixty-first annual convention of the American Federation of Labor and my best wishes for a successful and constructive meeting in the interests of your members and all the American people. Your delegates represent the largest membership in the history of the federation.
This meeting is an event of international significance. It is a symbol of that freedom which we, in the United States, enjoy and must make every sacrifice to maintain.
As hosts of distinguished representatives of the underground labor movements of countries enslaved by Hitler, you, at this convention, need no reminder of what is at stake for the free workers of America in the present emergency.
The threat of Hitlerism is directed not only at labor, even though labor is among the very first that will suffer therefrom. It is aimed at all of us-every man, woman and child who believes in freedom. It menaces everything that we cherish as Americans and free men.
The American people have, therefore, pledged everything in their power that those freedoms, without which free trade unions and free institutions cannot survive, shall never be taken away from them.
To protect those freedoms we shall, and must, devote every bit of human, physical and spiritual energy which we possess.
Our program of defense our production of ships, planes, guns, tanks-must be all-out. It shall be limited by only one factor-the amount necessary to overwhelm the Nazi hordes.
I know that every one of you, and the millions whom you represent, will lend every effort and make every necessary step to accomplish this end.
Every aspect of our national defense hinges on greater industrial production. The government has set up machinery to adjust industrial disputes in the full confidence that it is adequate to solve problems which may arise on defense jobs in all fairness and justice to the parties concerned.
The Conciliation Service of the United States Department of Labor and the National Defense Mediation Board provide ample facilities for the adjustment of differences. The time has come when the services of such agencies must be used before any recourse is taken to a strike or lockout, and I call now upon labor and management to cooperate at all times to that end.
This is not the time for idle promises. This is not the time to take chances with the national safety through any stoppage of defense work or defense production. Instead, this is the time for all of us to work in harmony for the good of the individual and the common good of all the people of these United States.
Every American owes that to himself and to the nation, which has given him so much.
Yes, this nation has given to you and given to me the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and these are among the greatest blessings of mankind. It is our job, our everlasting job, to preserve them as we have known them and to make whatever sacrifice is necessary as individuals or as groups in order to do so.
To do anything else would be to threaten their destruction and our own at the same time.
In this hour when civilization itself is in the balance, organizational rivalries and jurisdictional conflicts should be discarded. Only by united action can we turn back the Nazi threat. The establishment of peace between labor organizations would be a patriotic step forward of incalculable value in the creation of true national unity.
I am certain that the members of the American Federation of Labor will do their full part in carrying through the program to which we as a nation are committed and that all other responsible groups will do likewise. That is the contribution the American people will demand of all groups. That is the contribution the American people are determined they shall have for the preservation of home, family and nation.
Yours is a great responsibility. Workers in bondage throughout the world look to you as producers of the weapons of freedom to release them from slavery. I know you will not fail them.