held in Festival Hall, Treasure Island,
Monday, September 4, 1939
Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Public Officials, Officers and Members of the American Federation of Labor:
At the outset may I express my deep appreciation to you and your committee for the unhesitating and spontaneous manner in which you saw fit to invite me to be present here today.
I thank you not only as Angelo Rossi, the man, but more important than that, as Chief Executive of a truly great American city.
The greatest asset of any nation is the spirit of its people.
The greatest danger that menaces the security of any nation is the breakdown of that spirit.
There are those in our country who are fearful of the future.
They hear marching feet, rumbling guns and droning planes in other lands.
They hear the voices of discontent, spreading vicious doctrines which assail the fundamental principles upon which our nation is founded.
They hear great masses of our people crying for assistance and the opportunity to earn an honest dollar.
They hear all these things and they are fearful.
Their spirit is breaking.
Yet, on the other hand, I am privileged today to speak to a group of people whose presence here gives us cause for great confidence.
Here we have no evidence of a broken spirit.
Here we have a group of people who are imbued with the spirit which prompted our pioneer forefathers whose energies built this great Western Commonwealth.
Rather on this Labor Day we rejoice and are most hopeful for the future.
When tremendous groups of people meet for the purpose of doing honor to the high purpose or splendid achievements of some outstanding organization, they must be motivated by a great cause and imbued with a noble spirit.
The great outpouring of the citizenry, not only of the glorious city of San Francisco, but also of every city in this country bears testimony to the power, the strength and the accomplishments of the American Trades Union Movement.
The American Federation of Labor has earned and holds the sincere approval and respect of the American people.
So, as we meet on magic Treasure Island, created by the hands of labor, it is truly fitting that this day Labor Day has been dedicated to the loyalty, the energy, the ability, the skill and the spirit of all loyal Americans.
It seems commonplace to say we are living in the greatest land in the world.
Commonplace because we see about us war and the threat of war.
Because we see Labor and Capital alike drafted to destroy life.
Yes, we should give thanks to Almighty God that we are Americans. Pray God we may remain out of war. Pray God that all Americans back our President in his struggle to keep us out of war.
And you men and women of Labor celebrating today the rights given you by the Constitution; rights for which you have fought down through the years; rights which have made Labor today a strong and respected force in our national life you men and women must be doubly proud that you are Americans.
As I have said, Labor holds a respected and powerful place in our national life.
Equally so does it hold that proud and respected place in San Francisco's life.
We have struggled in the changing economic world, and we have been the crucible of experimentation in this direction.
But due to the Americanism and the conservatism of the majority of San Francisco labor leaders, we have gone forward hand in hand to a great destiny.
Gone forward hand in hand, despite the efforts of subversive influences,
radical and un-
I affirm conservative Labor has been an impregnable wall against these influences and will continue to be.
Look at San Francisco's record! Are we a dying city?
Listen to this! Among cities of comparable size, we enjoy the lowest tax rate in the nation.
Among cities of comparable size, San Francisco enjoys the highest credit rating in the nation.
Among cities of comparable size, San Francisco enjoys the smallest tax delinquency in the nation.
Of course, I do not propose to stand here and intimate that we are prosperous because we have a low tax rate.
Many do not pay taxes.
But we are prosperous because we have so arranged our finances as to pay our bills and give employment.
I am proud that I have been able to play a part in securing federal funds on frequent trips to Washington, to keep payrolls going in our communities.
I am proud, too, that with this low tax rate we nonetheless have given to our citizens those forms of municipal services which they have a right to expect and which, through the deepest depths of the depression, we have never curtailed.
We in America and the world have been going through the greatest economic change in the history of our country.
Yet, keeping pace with that change, conservative labor today is an energetic, well educated, far seeing and understanding group of people.
Conservative Labor's representatives have sold the employer the story of Labor's right to organize and bargain collectively for the benefit of the employee and the general public as well.
This is no longer a question in San Francisco.
San Franciscans understand conservative Labor's position.
We are far more advanced than any city in the nation with respect to the relationship of employer and the employee.
I believe, and you men know, that Labor differences can be adjusted when both sides approach their problems with clean hands and in good faith.
Our experience has taught employer and employee alike that they ultimately sit down, talk things over, and arrive at a friendly solution.
We can prevent strikes and lockouts as well if we can be guided by experiences in the past.
And to conservative Labor I say the welfare of the worker and not the personal ambitions of any leader should be the prime consideration in any discussion with employers.
Everyone agrees that a friendly solution of a problem is always the most lasting.
Any other type of adjustment which is the result of a strike or a lockout often leaves bitter feelings on one side or the other.
Always the possibility of new flare-
Stoppage of work just is another way of spelling "Economic Ruin" for employer and employee alike.
And, my friends, as experience has shown us, economic ruin for that great innocent third party the General Public.
San Francisco lay in ruins in 1906; and what did we do?
We got together as one great family and rebuilded what is one of the most glorious cities in the world today.
We did it with unity of purpose.
We did it because we had a will to work together.
We did it because we were proud of our city.
An what we did for the city as a whole we can do again when differences of opinion between employer and employee crop up.
We should not need federal intervention to solve our family quarrels.
We should not need to bring someone fro the outside to tell one or the other of us which is wrong.
We should operate in our labor differences just as we operate in our own lives.
We have had troubles before.
We have gone through the mill.
We have adjusted our differences with our spirit unbroken.
For God's sake, let us learn from the past.
Let us sit down in family conferences together rather than in bitterness and hate with its only reward economic disaster, loss of payrolls, suffering of our women and children.
Let us therefore carry on in a "Live and Let Live" spirit, so that San Francisco may be the leader of the parade of all great American cities for better understanding and the fulfillment of a better life.
Again I thank the American Federation of Labor for its very kind and spontaneous invitation for me to speak today the Federation which pioneered the labor movement and has always led in the fight for the rights of the worker.