THE APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLES OF DEMOCRACY TO INDUSTRY'S LABOUR RELATIONS
AN ADDRESS By ROY W. MOORE
Chairman: The President, Dr. F. A. Gaby.
Thursday, October 19, 1939
THE PRESIDENT: Gentlemen, we are fortunate in having with us as our guest-speaker, Mr. Roy Moore, the President of Canada Dry Ginger Ale Company, Incorporated, of New York. Mr. Moore is a high Executive who has taken a keen interest in labour matters from the viewpoint, probably, of the lawyer, because he was a lawyer before he became a Business Executive. He is a graduate of the Alabama Polytechnic Institute, and a post graduate of Cornell, in 1911, and of Harvard Law School in 1915. Subsequently, Mr. Moore practised law in Georgia, where he also served for ten years as the State's Prosecuting Attorney. In 1929 he came to New York and joined the staff of the Guaranty Trust Company. In 1934 he became Vice-President and General Manager of the Canada Dry Ginger Ale Company, and he was elected to the Presidency in April, 1935.
Mr. Moore is an authority on labour relations from the standpoint of industry and possibly some of you may have been fortunate enough to have heard him on this subject at the Kiwanis International Convention in Boston, this past June. I understand on the morning on which he gave his address there were some 6,000 in attendance. In view of the immense significance of relations today between labour and industry, and the part they play in the present struggle to maintain the democratic way of life, we are indeed fortunate to have this opportunity to hear Mr. Moore, whose subject is "The Application of the Principles of Democracy to Industry's Labour Relations". I have very much pleasure in introducing Mr. Moore. (Applause)
MR. Roy W. MOORE: Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Guests, and Gentlemen: Let me acknowledge now my appreciation of the kindness by which I am permitted to address you. I do this advisedly in the beginning, because if the new experience of raising my Yankee voice on the soil of the British Empire should overwhelm me, it would at least be remembered that I passed by with courtesy on my lips. As I stand here in your sympathetic presence, I am encouraged by your generous hospitality to get my second breath, and feeling more at home already, let me say that I count the privilege of speaking to you as a distinct compliment to industry in the United States. The honour of being your guest, with all the pleasure that the occasion brings me, also impresses me with the gravity of my obligation to you, for, after all, I am here to talk to you on a serious subject, so broad in its scope that it affects all people everywhere, their religions, their standards of living, their hopes and ambitions, their governments and their destinies.
I am sure that you will pardon my disregard for technicalities here; for the purpose of brevity I shall refer to things pertaining to the United States as American.
Although you have asked me to discuss the subject of labour relations from the viewpoint of American industry, I cannot refrain from reminding you at the outset, that those viewpoints are made in the same mould as your own, because of our common origin and because our concepts of civilization and democracy were acquired in the lap of one mother. American ideals and ideas must forever bear the mark, if not the fullness, of British culture. We are very proud of that fact, even though under some circumstances we would vie with one another in friendly fashion for better solutions of common problems. I say, you observe, under some circumstances we would vie with one another. I pause on the word some advisedly, for in many things we stand together as one. That is traceable to a gratifying trait of the race which I hope will live always.
In recent years and for the first time in the long history of our people we have witnessed a development of alien design, intended to threaten and destroy all the sacred foundations of our common faith, and I think we must be reminded by the course of late events, however far apart we may walk our separate ways, when the sun is shining, we head again toward home when the clouds gather over the institutions of our blood. (Applause) We seem at once then to revive the strength of kinship which perhaps for a time the flesh neglected and the blood alone remembered.
I mention this relationship between you and us because it reflects how deep and wide are the roots of human relationships. No subject involving labour relations can properly escape the meaning of the reasons why human beings think and act as they do. Therefore, in order to have before us a clear picture of the the viewpoint of American industry regarding labour relations, it would seem necessary to consider the background out of which the sentiments have sprung, for nearly all human standards acquire their form and character by the influence of some past or present environment.
In America, the basic principles on which industry's conceptions of the economy of enterprise, and of its relationships and responsibilities, are derived out of the fundamentals of the democracy of which it is a part. Democracy exists by the will of the people to respect and defend all the natural rights of one another and by the efficacy of the government to aid and protect the people in this purpose. That is the American scheme of things. As I understand it, it is also your scheme of things.
Every aspect of our national life concerns the individual. Every condition of our existence must be considered in the light of its effect upon the right of every man to enjoy the same liberties as every other man. Because all men do not have the advantage of seeing the same horizons and because they are viewed by varying influences, it is indeed a difficult matter for every one to see eye to eye, or to compare the exactness of his freedom with that of another. It is in the realm of this difficulty that the question of labour relations has become a national economic problem, and the subject of much debate.
The American economic pattern is made up of several large groups of individuals, the principals of which are industry and labour, with government the arbiter of their destinies. Each group has its viewpoint, made from the common beliefs of the individuals who compose it. Being at liberty to do so, each group talks much about the rights and obligations of free man. However large and powerful the group may be, still the individual is in essence supreme. Every consideration harks back to his condition. The way of democracy is not easy. Viewpoints clash on the question of what is and what is not an even and balanced justice. What sometimes seems to be the right of one man may conflict with what would seem to be the right of another. Time and patience are required to adjust these diverging concepts, and to arrive at an arrangement where every man shall be satisfied that no other man is unreasonably favoured with privileges in suppression of his own.
The attainment of such an arrangement is necessary if the fundamentals of our democracy are to endure. The attainment of such an arrangement, if desirable, is the definite responsibility of the constituent elements of society. Industry and labour are two of these several elements. In justification of themselves, they have the obligation to turn to the task which is set for them.
The paramount questions confronting them today are Are the institutions of democracy desirable? Are they worth saving? In our country there is not even room for doubt that our people would answer these questions in the affirmative. We would protect with the last ounce of our blood the retention of our characteristic freedom of thought and liberty of action. The way of democracy is, with us, the way of life. It is our birth-mark, and our birthright. We will never purposely relinquish it, nor would we knowingly permit it to become a weak and impotent force. If the way of democracy is ever lost to us it will be only because the elements which compose our society have been neglectful of the fundamentals supporting it, because a temporary but seemingly all-important desire to attain some end of small consequence may blind us for the time, and take from us the spirit of sacrifice and compromise which is as indispensable to the continuity of democratic institutions as force and oppression are to dictatorships.
If our most treasured heritages are to be preserved we must do more than wish it. We cannot share the benevolence of democracy unless we know what it takes to pre serve democracy and unless we are alert to its needs and willing to make such sacrifices as are necessary to sustain it. The strength of democracy lies in the genuineness of the spirit of its people, all of whose relationships, individual and economic, must be happy relationships. Democracy will endure or perish, depending on the ability of the people to learn the value of patience, to discriminate between small and big things, to put first things first and regardless of the sacrifices involved, to sift the wheat from the chaff.
American industry is conscious of these things. It appreciates the fact that the life of American democracy, national prosperity and, indeed, the destiny of our people depends in a large measure upon the condition of the relationship between itself and labour, and with these considerations in mind, the Congress of Industry, speaking through the National Association of Manufacturers, has given expression to its sentiments and purposes as follows:
"Industry recognizes mutually satisfactory labour relationships as an essential to industrial efficiency and to the providing of more jobs and better living. Industrial management recognizes that employees who wish to bargain collectively are entitled to do so in whatever form they may determine, through their own properly chosen representatives and without intimidation or restraint from any source. The disturbed labour relationships which have existed during the last few years are a major obstacle to recovery. Industry pledges its full co-operation in whatever changes may be necessary to correct these conditions. In order to promote mutually satisfactory labour relations which will increase production and provide more jobs, we urge employers to maintain a well-defined labour policy, suitable to the conditions of the community and industry, to provide opportunity for free interchange of ideas between management and employees on all matters of common interest, adequate opportunity for prompt consideration and adjustment of complaints, and fair wages for work performed, with incentives where they can be fairly applied as a reward for individual or group accomplishments, and to maintain good working conditions and constant improvement of the methods of production which creates jobs. Industrial management should endeavour to cushion the effect on individual employees of the introduction of new processes and labour-saving machinery. Management and labour should co-operate in using every practicable means to provide continuity of employment and should study the annual wages of employees in relation to their hourly earnings, and the number of days per year the plant operates, including careful consideration of the effect of hourly rates upon continuity of employment and income."
Thus industry has spoken. The language is plain. The words permit no doubtful or double interpretation. There is no misleading design. They reflect industry's conscious ness of its democratic background, and its obligation to a democratic society. They reflect the spirit of sacrifice and compromise and its purpose to support its relationships with all good will.
As I read these pronouncements of the Congress of American Industry, I cannot help but be impressed that the trend of thought in the ranks of industry is taking complete account of these human attributes which are necessary to uphold and defend the democratic way of life, a condition of living that we know all people, everywhere, desire. The thought is inescapable that at least one element of our economy has not been neglected, but ties its thinking to the fundamental precepts of liberty and civilization, and that there are certain forces for good working among us. However mistakenly industry may have looked upon the scope of its social responsibility in the past it is my belief that, by and large, those mistakes were unintended. We were so absorbed in the science of management, production and distribution that we quite humanly may have passed for a moment a full consideration of those aspects of our business which are also the business of the other fellow, the public.
But now the time has come when we do recognize these things and I can imagine no better way to express the recognition of them than those words which have issued forth from industry itself. Surely there can be no doubt of the sincerity of purpose behind these words. Frankly, I have heard none, not even from the ranks of the most vicious groups. All of which should remind us that there is rarely any opposition to the things that are right. Nor does it take a wise man to distinguish between the true and the false. Nature has provided the least of us with the capacity to sense the right and with judgment enough not to oppose it.
I shall not take your time to discuss the details of industry's acceptance of its social responsibilities nor the scope of its obligations to engender a happy relationship between itself and labour, nor will I consider the details of a proper method by which labour and industry must carry on their inevitable negotiations. I shall leave that to the expert in matters of labour and public relations, and the economist, and satisfy myself to say if democracy is to survive that all issues between the great groups of our people should be settled at the conference table, in the atmosphere of good feeling, and that no human progress was ever made under conditions of belligerency.
I can tell you as one who should know that American industry is alive to these things.
Now, let me add a few words which I hoped I could never say. There is war in the world. The reason for it is that there are a few people who are not familiar with the precepts of civilization and for whom Nature did not provide the common human instinctiveness that might and right are two different things, nor are they given to understand that it is the Creator's will that the principles of might shall not, in the long run, -win. Those who are familiar with human history know that this is so. True it is that some foul miscarriage has brought to the overlords a brief sense of victory, but never has there been any escape from the inevitableness of right, nor the certainty of retribution. One little sacrifice of pride could have saved the world the human misery which as certain as sunrise must follow in the wake of this war. Just one little concession to sit at the conference table, on the part of one man, to be open and above board in the purposes to be considered and to work together for truth and right would have averted years of nightmare and horror, distress and desolation for the human race.
Cannot industry and labour all over the world take heed of this lesson and the implications of human wilfulness?
Now, because of the exigencies of these trying times and because of your deep concern over the attitude of your friends regarding the course of your natural decisions, I wonder if you would pardon a brief digression from my subject, and permit me to say that although our American democracy was built upon the foundation of free speech, we, as a people do not agree with all the speeches that we have to hear. (Laughter and applause) Your friend just across the border is still your friend, and will prove to remain so throughout all your trials. (Loud applause)
THE PRESIDENT: Gentlemen: it has been an honour indeed to have the pleasure of hearing Mr. Moore's first public address in Canada. Industry in the United States could have no better ambassador than Mr. Moore with the inspiring address he has given us today. Our boundary is an excellent example of good relations between democratic countries. We keenly appreciate his assurance that the magnificent heritage of British ideals, of civilization and culture is still the common bond of the relationship between us.
On your behalf and on behalf of the radio audience I tender to Mr. Moore our hearty thanks and appreciation for his excellent talk today. We are very grateful to him for coming to us on this occasion and giving us in Canada such an inspiring talk on labour relations from the standpoint of industry. We thank you. (Applause)