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Full text of "Program of the American Labor Party"

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rogram 

of the 



A 



merican 



Labor 
Party 



adopted • October • i^j6 



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c^merican^ Labor Tarty 



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NEW political alignment is tak- 
ing shape in our country in response to 
new economic and social trends. The 
formation of the American Labor Party 
in New York State, as the permanent 
political instrument of all labor and pro- 
gressive forces, is an answer to the ur- 
gent need for a party rooted in the com- 
mon people and giving concrete politi- 
cal expression to their aspirations. 

The American Labor Party will pro- 
vide leadership and direction to the 
overwhelming majority of Americans 
whose interests the older parties, by 
their very nature, cannot adequately 
represent. It marks the political com- 
ing of age of vast sectors of the pop- 
ulation: workers menaced by economic 
exploitation and insecurity; farmers 
burdened with debt; storekeepers and 
small businessmen victimized by an 
evergrowing monopolistic trend in both 
production and distribution; white col- 
lar workers and professional men and 
women whose standards of living have 
been seriously impaired. These are the 
people whom the American Labor Party 
represents in their struggle for econom- 
ic security and a more civilized and 
abundant life. 



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[1] 



Only such a party, the Instrument not 
alone of labor in field and factory but 
of all liberal and progressive forces, can 
achieve the higher standards of living 
which a country so rich in productive 
capacity should afford its people. Only 
such a party can liberate the American 
people from poverty and insecurity, 
safeguard our democratic institutions, 
maintain our civil liberties and pre- 
serve peace. To further these objec- 
tives the American Labor Party offers 
the following program. 



LABOR 



The American Labor Party considers 
it vital for workers to receive a larger 
share of our national income. The in- 
equality that exists today is the princi- 
pal cause of the economic castastrophes 
that overtake us periodically, from one 
of which we are even now painfully 
recovering. To correct this condition 
it is essential that workers have 
the indisputable right to organize, to 
strike, and to bargain collectively. The 
American Labor Party pledges itself to 
vigorous action in support of these 
rights. It will strive for the fullest pro- 
tection of men and women workers 
from starvation and overwork and from 
the hazards of industry, and for the 
complete removal of children from the 
possibility of exploitation by industry. 



t 



Collective Bargaining 

Labor's right to organize is not yet a reality. 
The courts have whittled away the protection 
given by the National Labor Relations Act so 
that today millions of workers in New York 
State, as elsewhere, cannot exercise freely their 
most important civil liberty — the right to form 
unions. The American Labor Party advocates 
laws to assure and make effective labor's right 
to organize. 

Company Unions and *' Mercenaries" 

Company unions and such devices as the 
"yellow dog" contract are used by employers 
to defeat legitimate labor organization. The 
use of arms and munitions furnished by 
pseudo detective agencies, the deputizing of 
guards supplied by these agencies, and the 
employment of state militia and other govern- 
ment forces to defeat legal and peaceable 
strikes all represent a perversion of govern' 
ment to the service of open'shop industrialists. 
It is essential to pass legislation outlawing 
company unions, prohibiting so'called detec' 
tive agencies from furnishing *'mercenaries", 
and preventing the lawenforcement power of 
the state from being turned into an instru' 
ment for the oppression of workers. The 
American Labor Party will initiate and sup' 
port such legislation vigorously. 

Minimum Wage 

The Party pledges itself to work in har- 
mony and cooperation with the organized la' 
bor movement for far'reaching minimum' 
wage lav7s which shall adequately meet the 



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needs of the millions of unorganis;ed and un^ 
protected workers in the state. The basic hu' 
man right of decent living and working condi' 
tions for men and women and children is of 
paramount importance. No legal technicalities 
or subterfuges must be allowed to stand in the 
way of that paramount right. 

Maximum Hours j 

Regulation of maximum hours, on an 
industrywide basis, irrespective of state lines, 
is essential to protect workers from exhaustr 
ing toil and to enable industry to absorb mil' 
lions of unemployed. The American Labor 
Party pledges itself to work politically, jointly 
with the economic organi2;ations of labor, for 
the stabili2;ation and the progressive reduction 
of the number of hours in a working week, 
looking toward the ultimate establishment of a 
30 'hour v/eek in all industry. 

Workmen's Compensation 

The American Labor Party will work for 
the enactment of laws guaranteeing the great' 
est degree of physical protection to the worker 
at his task. It pledges itself further to the 
principle of complete coverage for all the con' 
sequences of industrial ha2iards.' 

Child Labor 

Child workers are not only pitiful victims 
of exploitation but their employment in indus^ 
try breaks down any decent working st^nd' 
ards. The problem is nationwide and the 
solution must of necessity be nationwide. The 
Party pledges itself to vigorous support of 



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the Child Labor Amendment as well as to the 
enactment and strict enforcement of effective 
state legislation. 

Women Workers 

We hold that there should be no distinc 
tion between male and female workers in op' 
portunity to work and in reward for services. 
However, in the face of indisputable facts 
showing that women are exploited through 
low wages, long hours and bad working con' 
ditions, the American Labor Party pledges it' 
self to work unceasingly for legislation to 
correct these injustices. 

Employment Service 

Private feccharging employment agencies 
prey on the unemployed. More adequate 
funds and wider extension of free federal and 
state employment exchanges throughout the 
nation, coordinated with imemployment in' 
surance systems, are needed. The Party 
pledges itself to work for these objectives. It 
recognii;es also the necessity of directing 
special attention to the employment of those 
physically handicapped. 



ECONOMIC SECURITY 

The technical progress and produc- 
tive genius of the American people 
should be made the basis of security 
and higher living standards rather than 
a threat to our national well-being. 
Those who are unemployed through no 



[4] 



t5] 



fault of their own must be given ade- 
quate relief; the aged and incapacitated 
must be protected. The technique for 
achieving these guarantees still remains 
to be perfected, but the principle can- 
not be disputed. No American willing 
to do his share of the nation's work 
should be denied food, clothing and 
shelter. 

Social Security 

The threat of unemployment, incapacitation 
and old age hangs over the American worker, 
farmer and professional man. It menaces the 
small business man as well. Our nation is rich 
enough to afford protection to all its popu' 
lation against this threat. The American Labor 
Party is pledged to a fundamental and all' 
embracing program of unemployment insur* 
ance, old age pensions and other types of in* 
surance against social insecurity. Such a pre 
gram, by increasing the share of the national 
income that goes to those who receive too 
little of it today, will help to stabilize our 
national economy and prevent the recurrence 
of disastrous depressions. 

Relief 

In the present emergency and until an effec^ 
tive social-security program is operative, those 
in want must be provided with adequate re^ 
lief. Since individual states cannot cope with 
the problem, direct federal participation in 
relief efforts remains essential. The guiding 
purpose must be to alleviate suffering, to re 
habilitate workers and farmers hit by the eco' 



1 



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nomic depression. The American Labor Party 
will press for adequate relief that will not un^ 
dermine prevailing wages, hours and working 
conditions. 



CONSUMERS 

As consumers, the American people 
have problems which cannot be solved 
without government aid. The govern- 
ment must make provision for decent, 
low-cost housing. Consumer coopera- 
tives must be protected and encouraged 
as a check on rapacious monopoly. The 
farmer's return on his labor must be in- 
creased. The cost of public utility ser- 
vices must be reduced and the quality 
improved. Our natural resources must 
be protected. 

Housing 

Private enterprise has failed to provide 
people of small incomes, particularly manual 
and white collar workers, with decent housing. 
Shanty and tenement slums still disfigure our 
land. Physically and morally we all suffer 
from them. Selfish, narrow'visioned real es' 
tate manipulators are consistently blocking 
every national large scale effort at slum" 
clearance and rehousing. The community 
must solve this basic problem through its na- 
tional and local governments. The Party 
pledges itself to work for the initiation by the 
government of enough low-cost housing pro' 
jects to make possible the decent re-housing of 
our population at moderate cost. 



[6] 



[7] 



Consumers Cooperatives 

The American family is entitled to obtain 
full value for its hard earned dollars. Con' 
sumers cooperatives permit the economical 
purchase of goods and services and act as an 
effective safeguard against monopoly. The 
American Labor Party favors government 
encouragement of genuine cooperative enter-: 
prise. 



Farmers 

It is not the price that the farmer receives 
but his income which is of importance. His 
income depends upon the purchasing power of 
the workers — that is, the income of urban 
workers of all groups and classes. Today, as 
in the 1 870's when the Granger movement took 
shape, the farmers who represent almost one 
third of our populations and the city wage^ 
earner have a common interest in a more equit' 
able distribution of the national income. To 
the extent that the fraction of the population 
which comes between worker and farmer ap^ 
propriates profits unduly, the American Labor 
Party holds it is a proper function of govern" 
mcnt to step in to regulate these profits and 
thus to protect farmers and workers. 

Public Utilities 

Regulation of public utilities has not afforded 
effective protection to the public. Public wel" 
fare demands more than regulation; it de- 
mands government ownership and operation 
of utilities. The mere threat of public opera^ 
tion has often reduced rates. Sucessful local 



[8] 






government operation of light and power 
plants, and the great T.V.A., have pointed 
the way. Public welfare demands that many 
other basic necessities of life, not yet so con- 
sidered, be put in the public utility category. 
The common resources of our nation must be 
riiade available to their fullest extent to farmers 
and city dwellers alike. The American Labor 
Party pledges itself to initiate and support 
legislation securing to the consumer the max' 
imum benefit from our public utilities at low/ 
est possible cost. 

Conservation of Natural Resources 

The natural wealth of the nation in earth 
and water, in forest, field and soil and in min^ 
erals and chemicals must be conserved and 
utili2;ed to benefit all the people. Exploitation 
of these resources for the enrichment of a few 
must cease. 

Flood and drought have demonstrated the 
necessity for long-range planning to conserve 
the people's resources. The Party will pro' 
mote all possible effort in this direction. 



GOVERNMENT FOR THE 
PEOPLE 



Government in a democracy is pri- 
marily a representative agency for min- 
istering to the vital needs of the people. 
Government services for public welfare 
necessitate wise public spending. Taxa- 
tion for this purpose is socially essential 
and an obligation that must be met. The 
proper functioning of government in 

[9} 



the interests of the entire people must 
not be paralyzed by narrow legalistic 
technicalities and subterfuges. 

Taxation 

Public expenditures must be free from waste 
and corruption. But the outcry against in- 
creased taxation must not blind us to the 
necessity for public spending in the public in' 
terest. It is essential that taxes be based on 
ability to pay so that they do not decrease 
consuming power or burden the very groups 
in the community whom the government seeks 
to aid. Wealth created by the. people as a 
whole must be used for the general good. The 
Party pledges itself to the principle of taxa- 
tion based on capacity to pay. 

Civil Service 

As the functions of goverment multiply, it 
becomes increasingly important that public 
servants be competent and dedicated to the 
service of the community. The American 
Labor Party favors the extension of the Merit 
System to every iield of government service 
and the remuneration of public employes on a 
level high enough to attract the most com' 
petent. 

Constitutional Amendment 

Legislation on a national 'scale is vital in 
order that standards of work and life be 
raised to the level of the most advanced states 
instead of declining to the level of the most 
backward. The efforts of the Federal govern- 

[ 10 ] 



ment to deal with pressing social and ecc 
nomic problems are defeated by narrow judi- 
cial interpretations. Recent rulings deprive 
even states of their power to act for the pub- 
lic welfare. The Party therefore will work 
for such legislation and constitutional amend' 
ment as will clearly ensure the right of Con- 
gress to enact laws for the entire people of the 
United States. 

The Judiciary 

In order that the law of our nation may not 
be turned into a straitjacket to stifle natural 
growth and adjustment of the country to 
changing economic and sodal conditions, a 
more progressive-minded and responsive judi- 
ciary is essential. Living realities rather than 
the dead hand of the past should weigh in the 
scales of justice. The Party proposes to place 
upon the bench both in the lower and the 
higher courts men and women of wider vision 
and more intimate and sympathetic under^ 
standing of popular needs. 



HUMAN RIGHTS 

Democratic institutions are under at- 
tack throughout the world. The more 
reason, therefore, why the ideals of our 
nation — inviolable civil liberties, edu- 
cation and equality of opportunity for 
all, racial and religious tolerance, the 
preservation of democracy at home and 
its encouragement abroad — should be 
vigorously defended- In these ideals 
the American Labor Party places its 

[11] 




faith; for their defense, it pledges its 
strength. It will resist, to the utmost, 
anti-democratic and dictatorial systems 
under whatever label they may be pur- 
veyed to our people. 

Education 

The basic right of universal education has 
always had the support of American labor 
and progressive forces. The best traditions 
of American democracy are rooted in our edu" 
cational system. The Party favors increased 
government expenditures for the public 
school system, the maintenance of adequate 
salaries for teachers, and the extension of op' 
portunities for education among all age 
groups and in all regions of the state and 
nation. 

Civil Liberties 

The constitutional and traditional American 
rights of free speech, press and assembly, a 
fair jury trial and protection of the individual 
citizen against misuse of power by officials 
must be maintained against all threats. Such 
attacks on our Bill of Rights as the teachers' 
oath bills, discriminations against any class 
or race, and denial of the right of free discus' 
sion of public questions, must be repelled. The 
American Labor Party pledges itself to ag' 
gressive defense of these civil rights and their 
enforcement in a truly democratic spirit. 

War 

The American Labor Party is deeply con^ 
scious that war threats center today in those 

[12] 






European nations, ruled by Fascist dictator' 
ships, where independent labor movements 
have been destroyed and the forces of govern^ 
ment are brutally used to crush all expression 
of the popular will. The United States will 
scarcely be able to escape the consequences of 
war, no matter how remote the theatre of 
battle. To remove one of the major causes of 
war, the American Labor Party demands leg- 
islation that will eliminate the profit incentive 
from the arms and munitions industry. To 
avert war and protect the principles and in' 
stitutions of free government, the American 
Labor Party also urges the closest cooperation 
among the - labor movements in all free 
countries and participation, to the fullest ex' 
tent consistent with the interests of the United 
States, in all constructive international efforts 
dedicated to the preservation of peace. 

* * * :Ji 

In the regrouping of political forces 
now under way the establishment of a 
powerful labor party becomes inevit- 
able. 

On the basis of our broad program 
for social betterment, higher standards 
of living, and democratic methods of 
government, the American Labor Party 
appeals to all workers, farmers, profes- 
sional men, small businessmen and 
others who are natural allies in the com- 
mon fight against special privilege. The 
American Labor Party calls on these 
basic sections of the population to join 
its ranks* 



[IS] 



rrogram 



of th 



A 



merican 



Labor 
Party 



adopted* October * i^j6 



State Campaign Headquarters 

Hotel Claridge — 44th St. and Broadway 

New York City 

426 



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