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William Green 



William Green 


by Max D. Danish 




Southwest Texas Siate Teechers College 

San Marco$, Texas 

Published by inter-allied publications 



Copyright 1952 


45 West 45th Street, New York 36, N. Y. 

Produced under the direction of NICHOLAS G. BALINT 

Printed in the United States of America 
by American Book-Stratford Press, Inc., New York, X. Y. 




Author's Note 
William Green 


1 1 


Early Years 

UMW Secretary— AFL President 

In the Greater Community 

At Home and Abroad 

Slants and Angles 

Podium Candids 




A cknowledgments 

I wish to express profound thanks to Philip Pearl, editor of the 
"AFL News-Reporter/' for his unstinted readiness to meet my 
constant quest for factual information with a keen and patient 
understanding of the frame and content of this biography of 
the president of the American Federation of Labor. 

My appreciation is also due to Bernard Tassler, editor of 
the "American Federationist," who generously placed at my 
disposal his rich photographic files in order to make the pic- 
torial section of this book as complete as possible. 

Max D. Danish 

Author's Note 

THIS "SHORT STORY" of William Green lays no pre- 
tense to being a complete biography o£ the President of the 
American Federation of Labor. More accurately it is a chron- 
icle of the major events which transpired in American labor 
during the past four decades, and William Green's role in and 
reactions to these events, told mostly in his own words, and 
quoted from his numerous speeches, public statements, and 
editorial notes in the "American Federationist," which he has 
edited for nearly 28 years. 

A full biography of the long and rewarding career of Presi- 
dent Green is yet to be written. His life story— from breaker boy 
to a topmost position not only in labor but in the greater Amer- 
ican community— is not trimmed with "from-rags-to-riches" 
embroidery. His ideals, beliefs and working methods reflect the 
solid virtues and the driving force of ground-roots America. It 
is the story of an American worker who mined coal in a small 
midwestern town for 23 years and came up to the heights be- 
cause in him abundant natural gifts blended in perfect union 
with lofty ethics, an inbred humanity and selfless devotion to 
the millions who for a full generation have come to identify 
him as their champion and tireless advocate. 

William Green's life has coincided with some of the stormi- 
est social squalls which rocked the first half of this century. He 
has taken these tempests with the firm reliance of a pilot who 
knew his course and would not deviate from it. To have had the 
opportunity of recapitulating these chapters in the life of Wil- 
liam Green in this brief biographical sketch has been both a 
gratifying inquiry and a distinct pleasure. 



By Max D. Danish 

THE American mould of trade unionism was not built according to 
theoretical blueprints. It grew from a deeply-imbedded revolt of 
free men against the raw inequities of a booming industrialism. Amer- 
ican labor rejected "pie-in-the-sky" visions and counsels of despair 
alike. It relied on its inherent power, its economic strength. The grit 
and obstinacy which characterized this rising trade unionism under the 
direction of Samuel Gompers and his associates stemmed from an 
aroused confidence that the grave economic injustices meted out to 
their fellow workingmen in this land of inexhaustible resources could 
be righted by collective effort through labor organization. 

As self-employed craftsmen gave way to wage-earners and new 
mushrooming industries split skills into fragments to make room for 
semi-skilled operatives, membership in the trade union movement 
gtew. Fundamentally, nonetheless, its outlook and policies continued 
to reflect a single-minded pragmatism— rugged and unyielding— to 
match the unbending antagonism to union organization which the 
major employer groups of the land had nakedly and brutally displayed 
since unionism first made its appearance on the American industrial 

Out of the Mines 

The mines of America— like the mines in industrial lands every- 
where—have given to our labor movement a generous quota of dynamic 
leadership. And among this group of leaders who emerged from the 
mines, William Green, who for the past 28 years has stood at the helm 
of the American Federation of Labor, years of soul-trying crises and 
cruel war and postwar periods, rises to a stature all his own. 


Faced, simultaneously at times, by the grim spectre of internal 
cleavage, on one hand, and the onslaught of the Red conspiracy, on the 
other, this coal digger from a small Ohio mining community managed, 
without melodrama or quasi-dictatorial methods, to steer the great or- 
ganization entrusted to him sanely and safely. 

Above all else, even a casual examination of the career of William 
Green helps to reveal the refreshingly dominant fact that he has never 
envisaged the top spot in America's labor movement, which he occu- 
pies, as a mandate for personal power but as a task service to the mil- 
lions of his fellow trade unionists and to his country— a task to which he 
has been happy to give his all. 

A "Speech of Acceptance" 

When on December 19, 1924, William Green, then secretary- 
treasurer of the United Mine Workers and a third vice-president of the 
American Federation of Labor, was notified by the Federation's Execu- 
tive Council that he had been chosen AFL president for the ensuing 
yearly term, following the unexpected death of Samuel Gompers on 
December 13 of that year, he said: "The call which has come to me 
came as an unsought call for service . . . We shall seek to organize the 
unorganized . . . Our movement has created great traditions, it has be- 
come to all Americans a great bulwark of human freedom . . . There 
has been left to all of us a legacy of inestimable value which will serve 
to chart our course." 

William Green's brief "speech of acceptance" was as shorn of 
pomp as the man who uttered it. His simple pledge to organize the men 
and women still outside the fold of the Federation was a prescribed 
duty. The legacy he was referring to, obviously, was the philosophy and 
the trade union "way of life" which Samuel Gompers indelibly stamped 
upon the American Federation of Labor. 

"We Who Know Him Best" 

A few weeks prior, at the El Paso convention of the AFL, John L. 
Lewis, William Green's chief in the Miners' Union, in a speech nomi- 



nating Green for the third vice-presidency of the Federation, had 
declared: "I need not at this convention extoll the virtues or accom- 
plishments of William Green, the secretary-treasurer of our great inter- 
national organization, because many of you have learned to know him 
through years of attendance at these conventions and have for him that 
deep affection as a trade unionist in which he is held by his colleagues 
in his own organization. 

"Suffice it to say that we who work with him— and we perhaps 
know him best— have come to have a profound admiration for his 
capabilities as an officer, for his fealty to the ideals of the trade union 
movement, for his stalwart characteristics as a citizen of our country, 
and for the great good he has been able to perform in the trade union 
movement and in the civic councils of our nation." 

To the thousands, leaders and rank-and-filers alike, who have come 
to know William Green in the long years of his presidency of the AFL 
both as the Federation's top executive and as the custodian of the 
union's prestige, the portrait of William Green as presented to the 
world by John L. Lewis in the fall of 1924 remains sharply etched, 
indelible and inviolate. 

Early Years 

William Green's father, Hugh, an English coal miner, had brought 
his slender Welsh bride, Jane, to Coshocton, a small mining and farm- 
ing town in Central Ohio, in 1870, hoping for a better life in the New 
World. Like countless thousands of others who came to America from 
the world's older continents with high hopes of opportunity and plenty 
for all, the Hugh Greens found in Coshocton only the primitive en- 
virons of a new continent and the hardships of building a new com- 

The local miners' union, a branch of the Progressive Miners 
Union which later became part of the United Mine Workers, was the 
only focal point in their life which linked the Greens spiritually with 
the Old World and brought some sense of security to them, in addition 
to religion, another spiritual mainstay of the family. The Greens were 


■7 H 1 9 

deeply religious, and Baptist Hugh Green gathered his family together 
every evening for an hour of prayer. 

Their first son, William, was born in a miner's shack, but by the 
time he could walk the family moved to a house on what was known 
as Hardscrabble Hill and had settled, with thanks to the Lord, into the 
life of toil and enforced frugality which was the lot of the American 
miner in the 1870's. Hugh Green, a slim, silent man, with long 
white hair and beard, made a dollar and a half a day. By the standards 
of the town and the times he cared for his family well. There was al- 
ways enough to eat, there were few luxuries, and life in the town was 
simple— Bill collected acorns for marbles. Nothing ever happened to 
cause excitement, except that gruesome standby of a coal town, the 
mine accident. 

A Miner at 16 

Bill Green began earning money for his own petty needs from the 
time he was ten. When he was fourteen, the railroad headed for Cen- 
tral Ohio reached Coshocton and Bill got a job as a water boy for a 
railroad gang. At sixteen, one early morning he walked the two-and-a- 
half miles to Morgan Run Mine No. 3, where his father worked, and 
went down the shaft with him. He learned fast and soon became a full- 
fledged miner and a good one— for many years he was one of two coal 
diggers who drew the biggest pay at Morgan Run. 

"I started mining coal," William Green later wrote,* "at sixteen 
as the normal course of life and without any feeling of self-pity on my 
part. On the contrary, I was glad to take on a man's work that I might 
have some income to add to the family's purse. That was before the 
days of the safety lamp or electricity. I helped father to get out the coal 
he loosened and loaded it into cars to be carried up. I watched him 
work, and then he let me begin to use the tools. When I was able to 
use them I bought my own— at the company store. It was all hand work 
then. Working with my father I learned my trade." 

Bill Green knew only what a one-room school in Coshocton had 
* "Labor and Democracy," by William Green, 1939. 


taught him, but he early developed a hunger for books and he also ac- 
quired a flair for oratory in church social debates. His father advised 
him to study for the ministry, and Bill readily agreed. But though he 
saved his pay he could not raise the money for the schooling. When he 
was 22, he married Jennie JVIobley, a neighboring miner's daughter, 
and resigned himself to going on in the mine. 

Envelopes — With Puny Pay 

Bill Green started going to union meetings with his father as soon 
as he went into the mines, and, as a matter of course, became a mem- 
ber. His lessons in practical unionism started early for young, sedate 
Bill Green as he plunged at once into unraveling some of the causes 
of discontent around the mine. On pay-days the miners got envelopes 
which contained but little money. The company owed them for the 
coal they had mined, which was recorded in tons. The company, how- 
ever, weighed only such coal as remained after it passed over the mine- 
screen. Sometimes there seemed to be less credit given them than what 
they knew they had got out, but, of course, the miners could not prove 
their claim. They would owe the company for house rent, for food and 
clothing bought at the company store, perhaps a payment for the com- 
pany doctor, for powder and for sharpening tools. And since their pay 
never reached above $1.50 a day, there was little real money coming 
to them. 

There were many other disputes over weighing coal, until the 
union elected a pit committee and it was arranged to have a union man 
act as a check-weighman to check the records of the mine weighman. 
There was the other basic problem as to what should be weighed. 
Miners received no pay for the coal that went through the screen, al- 
though it could be sold on the open market. Feeling cheated, they con- 
tended that they should be paid on a run-of-t he-mine basis the tonnage 
before deductions were made. This barefaced short-changing of the 
miners remained an unmitigated evil for years, until as a member of 
the Ohio State Senate in 1911, William Green introduced a bill abol- 
ishing the mine-screen. The battle was fierce but the bill was passed 


and became law. Similar bills were later passed by the legislatures of 
other mining states. 

"From Cradle to Grave" 

In those early days, mine workers paid a considerable share of the 
expenses o£ mining. The power of the company surrounded the miner 
on all sides, literally from cradle to grave. Bill Green kept going regu- 
larly to his union's meetings-one of the few opportunities he had for 
meeting people-soaking up eagerly in his young and receptive mind 
the woes and problems of his neighbors and his own folks. He learned 
to speak up, ventured to ask questions or to offer suggestions, and soon 
became a member of the local's several committees. Then, in quick suc- 
cession, the local began electing him to office-secretary, treasurer and 


By modern standards, Morgan Run No. 3 was a terrible place- 
timbering was bad, cave-ins were frequent and gas hung in its tunnels. 
The whole mining village of Coshocton lived in fear of mine accidents. 
Life could be snuffed out in the darkness of the mine at any time. In 
the 1890's miners could get no insurance to tide their families oyer the 
loss of the breadwinner. Bill Green helped to carry out of the mine the 
crushed bodies of more than one miner. The only source of help to 
which miners could turn with any sense of friendly response was the 
union; but the local union was still too weak to stand up to the 


Oftentimes, the only escape for men goaded and battered on all 
sides seemed the strike, as the quickest way to revenge. "Men on strike 
are capable of unrestrained violence," Green wrote years after. "I have 
known them to call out the maintenance men and leave the mines to 
flood. In Ohio there are mines which were set on fire during the strike 
of 1884 still burning more than 50 years later. My temper was no 
milder than those of my fellow workers, but I saw that it had to be con- 
trolled. As a union officer, the significance of collective bargaining 
grew stronger and ever stronger in my mind. How much further, in- 
deed, we could get by using our heads than by using our fists." The 


idea of collective agreements, as the only way out of the morass of de- 
spair and ineffectiveness inherent in single-mine dealings with mine 
owners and their managers, thus settled early in the mind of young 
Bill Green. 

At the Head of Ohio Miners 

By 1900, William Green, after having made the grade as president 
of his own Coshocton local and later of the sub-district of the area, be- 
came president of District 6, embracing all of Ohio. A persistent and 
effective negotiator, counseling the middle of the road and invariably 
blunting the extremists, his influence grew. As District 6 went on strike 
and Green saw his Ohio miners defeated by trainloads of coal coming- 
in from West Virginia and Pennsylvania, he realized that unless some 
way of coordinating collective bargaining in the various districts was 
found, the union miners in the various regions would be merely com- 
peting against each other in favor of the coal operators. 

He found the answer to this problem in what is still known as the 
Central Competitive Agreement, a pact covering the UMW districts 
in Ohio, West Pennsylvania, Indiana and Illinois and negotiated with 
the joint coal operators of that territory. This agreement, in turn, be- 
came the basis of negotiation in all other fields. It worked to stabilize 
the industry and to raise standards of living for the miners. And al- 
though over the years, individual coal operators, aided by recurring 
business depressions, had tried to upset these centralized pacts in order 
to gain some immediate special advantages, the principle of the Cen- 
tral Competitive Agreement and its collective machinery survived. 

A Training School for Democracy 

Young William Green, who in time grew to be a master parlia- 
mentarian, had found the union a good training school for acquiring 
the techniques of cooperating with other human beings in a democratic 
way. Without rules of order, mine union meetings of that day were 
likely to be turned quickly into mobs of strong men who paid little at- 
tention to union business. With Bill Green wielding the gavel, miner 


meetings, on any level— local, sub-district or district— had to be orderly 
and businesslike. "Parliamentary law is, of course, only a means to an 
end, but it is a necessary tool for group activity," he insisted. 

As president of District 6 he met frequently with employers and 
public officials to adjust grievances and work out problems. There, too, 
he began to learn the operators' side of industry in addition to the 
miners' side which he knew well. District president William Green was 
learning that good times for the miners were bound up with prosperity 
for mine operators. Interdependence of welfare, he became convinced, 
was inescapably bound up with techniques of cooperation in working 
out joint problems and straightening out joint kinks. 

Statistician, Senator 

In 1910, William Green, by that time already widely known 
through Central Ohio as the hard-working and wideawake president of 
District 6, took time out to run for the presidency of the UMW. Things 
had not been going well in international headquarters, the union's re- 
lations with the employers were too tense for comfort, and the Central 
Competitive Agreement was in danger. He received the support of the 
younger element in the organization and waged a vigorous campaign, 
but was defeated. Commented William Green on the outcome: "The 
kind of work miners do breeds daring but also a fundamental honesty 
that will not permanently tolerate injustice. I made the fight for those 
who wanted honesty in our International." 

In 1911, John P. White of Iowa became president of UMW, and 
he appointed William Green international statistician. This position 
involved gathering of data to be used in collective bargaining, data on 
mining accidents, accident prevention and information on occupa- 
tional diseases. He was also appointed a member of the miners' com- 
mittee to cooperate with the Mine Bureau which was charged by the 
federal government with promoting safety in the mines. That same 
year, yielding to demands by large groups of citizens in Coshocton and 
adjacent counties, William Green became the candidate of the local 
Democratic Party for the State Senate of Ohio and was elected. In the 


Ohio Senate, he was chosen floor leader of the party and when the pre- 
siding officer of the Senate, Lieutenant Governor Pomerene, resigned 
to accept a designation to the United States Senate, Green succeeded 
him as president. While in the Senate, Green continued to serve as the 
union's statistician and was reelected for another term. On August 1, 
1913, however, he became secretary-treasurer of the United Mine 
Workers, a position which required an enormous amount of concentra- 
tion and plain hard work. He held that post until 1924 when he be- 
came president of the AFL. 

Battles in West Virginia 

During the 11 years as "finance minister" of the miners' union, 
following his two years in the Ohio Senate, William Green absorbed 
a world of new experiences. It was a period when the mine workers 
were waging a desperate struggle for the right to organize, especially in 
the hills and valleys of West Virginia. At the first signs of revolt, the 
coal operators would evict the miners and import carloads of gun-toting 
Baldwin-Felts hoodlums to intimidate the strikers. During these recur- 
rent strikes, William Green would become the union's chief commis- 
sary, would lease lands, organize tent colonies, and provide food for the 
men and their families. 

He likes to tell about one such case in the course of which the coal 
operators turned to the federal courts for an injunction to break a West 
Virginia strike. They asked Judge Anderson, a notorious union hater 
of that period, to order the UMW not to feed the strikers, and the 
judge announced that he would issue the injunction. As UMW secre- 
tary-treasurer, Green, who was directly charged with the task of feeding 
the strikers, rose in the courtroom and told the judge that "His 
Honor," obviously, did not fully grasp the implications of the order he 
intended to issue. "Your Honor, these families are the wards of our in- 
ternational union. Every scrap of food they have we buy for them. We 
cannot let these women and children die. If you issue the injunction, 
I must choose whether to obey it and let the miners and their families 
starve or violate it and go to jail. Your Honor, I cannot let the women 


and children starve." The judge barked a few questions at Green and 
modified the injunction so that the union was allowed to feed the 


Those years, besides unfolding a vista of complex experiences, also 
helped William Green, who had meanwhile become a member of the 
AFL's Executive Council, to build up a personal philosophy which, in 
later years, when he reached the pinnacle in labor leadership, served 
as a credo to guide his course of action. The grueling, bruising strug- 
gles of the miners with which he lived every hour of the day have not 
clouded William Green's vision or distorted his outlook. His belief that 
despite provocation his obligation as a citizen of a democracy comes 
first, both in thought and action, appears to have become strengthened 
with the years. "We endanger our freedom when we attempt direct ac- 
tion," he reiterated on many occasions, and he helped make this basic 
belief of his also the position of the UMW, although its membership, 
attuned to hourly physical dangers and harsh daily toil, gave way at 
times to impetuous action breaking through limits of endurance. 

Time and again he asserted in those hectic years, in talks and by 
the written word, that the miners' battlefields were everywhere where 
coal was being mined, but that their contest was with the coal barons, 
not with the government or the country. But he just as vehemently 
protested the use or control of the government machinery by the coal 
operators for their own gain, and just as sharply condemned the issu- 
ance of injunctions and the employment of private armies by the mine 

Union Gospel to "New" Miners 

During the nearly 35 years that William Green either worked in 
the mines or served as an officer of the miners' union, one of the com- 
plex problems the organized coal diggers had to meet was the constant 
influx of immigrants from all lands. The early miners were English, 
Welsh and Scotch, who came with an understanding of the traditions 
of unionism. As the reservoir of immigration moved eastward, and 
many immigrants who spoke no English and were wholly green to 


American ways of living began pouring into the coal mines, the union 
became faced with the double responsibility of "housebreaking" this 
mass of new members to the rudiments of unionism, first in their own 
languages and later in teaching them English and adjusting them to 
the climate of a new land. 

As the union's national secretary-treasurer, William Green for 
years directed these educational tasks, the issuing and distribution of 
union literature in several languages for these newcomers and the 
building up of cadres of organizers who could talk to them in their 
own tongues. The returns from this widespread educational work were 
invaluable from the UMW's viewpoint. The immigrants who entered 
the coal mines, after a few years of "acclimatization," proved to be a 
tower of strength in the union's future struggles for recognition and for 
higher living standards throughout the coal mining areas of the coun- 
try. In speaking of these years of his officerhood in the United Mine 
Workers, William Green wrote: "Our union was an economic as well 
as a national institution. We believed then, as I believe now, that most 
men are honest, most of the time. . . . Along with other union repre- 
sentatives, I began to realize that in addition to organizing our eco- 
nomic power we would have to put some of our seasoned men into key 
political offices to secure the rights which citizens of a democracy 
should have." 

Need for Labor Laws 

Nowhere in the industrial precincts of the land was the helpless- 
ness of the individual worker more palpable than in a miner commu- 
nity and nowhere has the effort of unionism to replace the futility of 
individual effort by collective action been more urgent. As a young 
man William Green served on his local union's mine committee, which, 
among other duties, had the task of helping to take home miners who 
were badly hurt and the bodies of those who lost their lives in the fre- 
quent mine disasters. These mine committeemen also had to break the 
sad news to the stricken families. 

"Many a time," Green wrote afterwards, "I have gone with aching 


heart into a bare little shack to tell the wife that an accident had struck 
down her husband. I have seen the grief and the bravery of those 
women, knowing that there was not a dollar in the house for food or 
for the care of the small children. Usually, the pay was mortgaged 
ahead to the company store. The suffering I saw over the years made 
me resolve to work for a workmen's compensation system which at least 
would lighten the economic burden resulting from loss or disability 
of the family's breadwinner. 

"In those years," Green continued, "pay-days came only once a 
month. Each month, as we lined up at the window for our pay, some 
member of the union would be standing there taking up a collection 
for John Jones or Bill Smith, or their wives and helpless children. The 
miners were always generous, but their pay was small and the demands 
for such collections too frequent to bring in sufficient sums. The in- 
justice to us in the mining industry struck more forcibly because the 
accident rate was so high that a miner couldn't buy a dollar's worth of 
insurance from any company. When a miner was injured he usually 
got nothing as compensation. All the coal companies were insured by 
private insurance companies, and the insurance companies would fight 
each claim in the courts. They used all old common-law defenses, the 
doctrine of contributory negligence, the negligence of a fellow servant, 
and the known hazards of occupation. The miner had no chance. He 
was beaten practically before he started. The insurance companies won 
nearly every case." 

Goal Set for Workmen's Compensation 

Legislation was urgently needed, and, partly because of that, Bill 
Green consented to run for the Ohio Senate where he served from 1911 
through 1913. As mentioned above, he succeeded in obtaining a ma- 
jority for one important mine bill— the abolition of the mine-screen 
practice in the Ohio mines, but his chief legislative objective was to get 
a workmen's compensation law on the statute books. Green had at his 
command a huge volume of data at that time— he already was the 


UMW's international statistician— and he had no difficulty in proving 
in support of his compensation bill that coal mining topped the list of 
industrial hazards and accidents in the country. 

The insurance lobby, as anticipated, violently opposed the bill 
providing for a state insurance fund, but united labor behind the plan 
won Ohio's Governor Cox over for the bill's support. The evidence of 
injustice to the workers was so strong and the history of litigation over 
industrial injuries so disgraceful that public opinion was aroused and 
the law was adopted. When the Ohio law later was challenged by its 
opponents on the ground of constitutionality, one of the briefs filed in 
its defense was written by Louis D. Brandeis, already a valiant advocate 
of social legislation at that time, and later a noted liberal on the bench 
of the United States Supreme Court. 

Health Insurance Next Target 

The Ohio success proved infectious. In state after state other 
unions pushed the demands for workmen's compensation laws. William 
Green, inspired by the results, visited over a period of a dozen years 
many states and addressed labor and civic groups in support of work- 
men's compensation as an "object very dear to my heart," as he put it. 
Moreover, as a result of his successful campaign for a workmen's com- 
pensation law in Ohio, Green became convinced that disability and oc- 
cupational ills should similarly be covered by legal provisions and there 
should be a general health insurance program. 

He argued that the unions could give their members only limited 
insurance protection, but that responsibility for this protection rested 
upon society and so ultimately upon industry and the consumers who 
demanded the products of labor. Bitterly, William Green resented the 
fact that workers were not given at least as much consideration as a 
machine. Management must include in the cost of production the ex- 
pense of repairs and replacement of worn parts of machinery, he argued. 
But when an employee becomes ill from causes arising out of his em- 
ployment, the cost falls on the worker. The worker is bearing an in- 
dustrial expense which should be borne by the industry. 


In the second decade of this century, however, the leadership of 
the AFL was not ready to adopt this viewpoint in its entirety. 

Opinion on socal health insurance for workers continued to be 
divided in the upper councils of the Federation for a number of years. 
Committees appointed by the Executive Council continued to hew to 
the line that compulsory health insurance, by and large, would not be 
helpful to the trade unions, subsequently conceding the point only that 
occupational diseases and injuries on the job be aided by legislation 
making industry financially responsible for that expense. They also 
stressed the urgency of expansion of union insurance programs. 

William Green, however, continued to uphold the viewpoint of 
the minority that the loss of earning power was equally disastrous 
whether caused by injury or illness. The logical step after workmen's 
compensation, he argued, was a compulsory health insurance act. Only 
legislation, he asserted, would bring social justice here. Voluntary in- 
surance, he contended, is out of reach for the low-wage family, and he 
flatly rejected the idea that compulsory insurance would mean the sur- 
render of individual liberty of action. 

"Poverty is the arch-enemy of freedom," Green insisted. "It is 
mockery to say to a sick worker whose family is in want that such a 
state of affairs should not be remedied by legislation because it might 
interfere with his 'personal rights' and liberty of action.' " Green had 
the solid support of the miners who had already taken a stand for com- 
pulsory health insurance. "We could trust the economic and political 
strength of unions to keep their essential rights inviolate under com- 
pulsory health insurance as under workmen's compensation," he 
summed up his position. 

The differences between those who urged voluntary insurance and 
those who favored the compulsory system showed up in various resolu- 
tions at succeeding AFL conventions. In 1934, the convention of the 
Federation again approved a resolution to study health insurance. That 
year, President Green was appointed member of the Federal Economic 
Advisory Committee, which drafted a social insurance bill, including 
unemployment compensation and old-age benefits; health insurance, 


however, was not included in the social legislation measure which was 
finally enacted into law, falling far short of the committee's proposal, 
to Green's deep disappointment. 

Medical Lobby Blocks Advance 

Two years later, the 1936 convention of the Federation, after a 
study of costs of medical care, urged the federal government to create 
a commission that would study and recommend plans for an expanded 
system of social security to include medical care for sickness. At a con- 
ference representing all public groups, President William Green, speak- 
ing for all organized labor, offered his plan for extended workmen's 
compensation to cover illness and disease of all types, not only occupa- 
tional in origin. This extension, covering workers' general health and 
their families, he proposed would include a measure of worker contri- 
butions to the general fund. One year later, at hearings before the Sen- 
ate Committee on Labor, the Federation's spokesmen endorsed expan- 
sion of the public health program and enlargement of the social security 
system to include health insurance. 

This action, marking a clear-cut departure from the old position 
of the Federation, was hailed by Green with extreme satisfaction. "It is 
a long time since I began working in Ohio, in 1916, for a social insur- 
ance program for workers. I expect to see social insurance extended to 
cover the hazards of general illness," he declared. William Green's op- 
timistic expectations, however, still are a long way from realization. 
The coming of the war had shunted aside all extension of social se- 
curity measures, while the postwar period, thus far, has witnessed an 
ultra-conservative trend away from social legislation. A powerful and 
heavily-financed medical lobby, besides, has succeeded in building up 
antagonism against national health insurance by presenting it as "so- 
cialized medicine," a barefaced and fraudulent bugaboo. 

For the Nation's Children 

William Green has worked with equal zeal for the protection of 
the nation's children, particularly for the prevention of the exploita- 


tion of the young in mine, mill and factory. The struggle to take the 
children away from the mines in the anthracite fields was begun at the 
turn of the century. The children, most of them orphans whose parents 
were lost in mine disasters, worked by the hundreds for a few pennies 
a day in the breakers, breathing the choking coal dust and working 
with cracked and bleeding fingers picking lumps of slate from the coal. 
The UMW wrote into its own laws a provision that no children under 
16 be permitted to work in and around the mines. That, however, was 
only possible of enforcement in the strongly organized anthracite areas. 
"The wrong of child labor has always stirred me deeply," William 
Green commented in later years, "so this part of labor's program has 
been a personal matter with me." 

From 1906 on, bills were introduced in Congress, year after year, 
to bar from interstate commerce the products of children under 14 
years of age. One such bill, fixing penalties for violation, passed Con- 
gress in 1916. This was the Keating-Owen bill. It was, however, de- 
clared unconstitutional in June, 1918. Another law, the Pomerene Act, 
was passed by Congress and became a law in 1919, to be again declared 

The next step aimed at taking the youngsters out of mines and 
factories was offered by a large group of Congressmen and Senators 
from 14 states in the form of an amendment to the Constitution giving 
Congress the right to regulate the labor of children below 1 8 years of 
age. It passed both houses by huge majorities. A few states promptly 
ratified it. But rapidly a huge propaganda network was launched 
against it, and though the arguments against the amendment were 
flimsy and palpably false, they succeeded in turning away many people 
from support of child labor regulation. 

In reporting the anti-child-labor amendment to the 1925 conven- 
tion of the Federation, President William Green declared, amidst warm 
applause, "We have just begun to fight for the children of America. . . . 
We owe this opportunity for education and protection of their health 
to the citizens of the next generation." 


Workers' Education in the AFL 

In 1921, the Federation's convention voted to create a Committee 
on Education, first, to examine the systems and methods used in the 
public schools for civics, political economy and history, and, second, to 
promote adult education for workers. Subsequently, a Workers' Educa- 
tion Bureau, with a director and a staff, was organized by the Federa- 
tion, chiefly for the promotion of adult education and for the publi- 
cation of union literature. William Green took an active part in the 
work of this Education Committee as it proceeded to widen its program 
—to include support for a movement started in many states for the sup- 
ply of free textbooks to children, and also to further labor representa- 
tion on local boards of education and on boards of trustees of universi- 
ties supported by public funds. 

Green visualized the activity of the Committee on Workers' 
Education, from its beginning, as a sustained adult education move- 
ment among wage earners and as a preparatory phase for the wider par- 
ticipation of labor in all the civic and social functions of community 
and national life. He looked forward to the training of men and women 
who could present labor's case in legislatures and on administrative 
commissions. "We need the election of more labor men to legislatures," 
he emphasized, "and we need more labor men in responsible positions 
administering labor law r s. ... In my own two terms in the Ohio legisla- 
ture I have introduced, in addition to several laws in favor of the 
miners, also a bill which limited the working hours of women to nine a 
day, which was passed. The public mind is much more receptive to 
such legislation now. It is all the more necessary to have our own peo- 
ple sharing in the framing of such laws." 

Thus, William Green, while no protagonist of independent labor 
political parties, lined up firmly for the idea of political education 
among workers and for the election of labor men to state legislatures 
and on the national level. Unhesitatingly, and pointing to his own 
record in the Ohio Senate as he emerged fresh from the coal pits to 
take up political cudgels for his fellow 7 miners, he welcomed labor's 


growing interest in politics as a means of defense or offense as arising 
situations required. 

Shorter Workday for Women 

In the early years, organized labor displayed no eagerness for sup- 
porting general legislation limiting working hours for men. It feared 
that such legislation might give the state too much power of regulation 
which would weaken the unions and hamper their own bargaining 
power to reduce the hours of labor. Unions, the argument ran, have 
by their own efforts brought down the workday in most lines of pro- 
duction. Women, however, were but poorly organized and their bar- 
gaining power was palpably weak. 

In contrast to majority opinion, William Green, because of his 
experience in the Ohio Senate, showed no fear of fighting for shorter 
work hours by legislation. He was one of a minority group who voted 
back at the 1914 AFL convention in favor of making an effort to secure a 
general eight-hour law. President Gompers, however, sustained by a 
majority of delegates, opposed this move. Green, at that time secretary- 
treasurer of the UMW, accepted this defeat philosophically. Unions, 
he reasoned, are not inflexible in their policies. As economic and social 
conditions change, unions also are bound to alter their approach on 
how to meet new situations. 

Many years later, with the enactment of the social legislation pro- 
gram of the New Deal in the 30's, which had the warm support of all 
organized labor, William Green's distant forecast of 1914 shaped up 
very much as a reality. The Fair Labor Standards Act met more than 
half way the issue raised earlier by the unions by fixing only minimum 
standards for the lowest paid wage earners by governmental regulation 
and leaving the unions free to negotiate through collective bargaining. 

President Green's view regarding legislation affecting work hours 
and wages was summed up by him shortly after the Wage-Hour bill 
became law, in the following way: "Our attitude is no longer one of 
fear and distrust of government regulation under proper conditions. 
We welcome government efforts to provide on a social basis the security 


which it is not possible for a great proportion o£ men and women to 
achieve for themselves. We insist, however, that in the making and en- 
forcing of this regulation labor shall have a fair part." 

For Old-Age Pensions 

Back in 1911, the Massachusetts State Federation of Labor intro- 
duced a resolution at the AFL convention putting the Federation on 
record in favor of a comprehensive national old-age pension system. 
Matters more pressing, however, had for years thereafter taken priority 
in AFL councils. Only in 1929, after an exhaustive study of old-age 
dependency, the AFL convention of that year heard a definite sug- 
gestion from its Executive Council of an active campaign for an ade- 
quate system of old-age pensions. Some of the delegates, however, felt 
even at that time that organized labor should concern itself exclusively 
with "perfecting its fighting organization," not with social legislation. 
William Green, from the chair, led in the support of this proposal, and 
the Federation went ahead with its agitation for this program. 

Five years later, in 1934, President Green, as member of the Ad- 
visory Council on Economic Security, pledged the Federation's full 
support to national old-age provisions as part of the entire body of 
social legislation. No responsible group in the land, aside from inbred 
reactionaries, has since been able to refute the assertion that any legis- 
lation of the past half century has been of greater value to the general 
American community than the body of laws commonly described as the 
social security acts. 

Jobless Benefits 

Among the many problems darkening the industrial horizon and 
labor economics in particular, one of the most baffling had been the 
plague of unemployment which grew to immense size in the depression 
years 1929-33 and still remained a serious one even when prosperity 
returned in the early years of the Roosevelt administration. 

William Green, together with most policy makers in organized 
labor, had looked askance at the outset at unemployment insurance 


fearing that a system of jobless benefits with the requirement that the 
claimant register and accept work offered through a public employ- 
ment agency might result in forcing men to work under conditions 
which would jeopardize their union membership besides lowering 
earning standards. Unemployment should be solved by jobs not by in- 
surance. The work hours in most industries, he was convinced, were far 
too long, and if the 30-hour week were generally accepted and en- 
forced, the volume of unemployment would drastically recede, he con- 

• tended. 

President Green, together with the Executive Council, was, never- 
theless, faced with the definitive failure of the national economy to 
provide work for all employables who were seeking jobs. He made a 
further study of this acute problem. The 1932 convention of the Fed- 
eration finally accepted a resolution charging the Executive Council 
with promoting the passage of state unemployment compensation laws. 
Most of the leaders of the Federation were conscious that a national law 
would be preferable, but feared that such a law would be of doubtful 
constitutionality. Sentiment in favor of state laws thereupon grew rap- 
idly and in 1933 bills were introduced in over half of the state legisla- 
tures. Congress also had before its consideration a number of proposals 

for a federal law. 

The Advisory Council of the President's Committee on Economic 
Security, composed of citizens outside the government, at which Green 
was the leading spokesman for organized labor, gave the most serious 
thought to the relation of the federal and state governments in the in- 
surance program, and the size of the tax and benefits. The Advisory 
Council recommended federal standards for benefits under a grant-in- 
aid provision rather than federal-state systems with credit offsets. Presi- 
dent Green supported the Advisory Council, but the Committee for 
Economic Security favored the credit offset system. 

"Unemployment a National Problem" 

A half-dozen years later, Green wrote: "I am sure that the act will 
be extended and improved. ... I believe that all our social security laws 


will ultimately have to be on a national scale. Industries extend across 
the continent. Labor in America is more mobile than in any other 
country in the world. Industries shift readily as we have seen in the 
migration of the boot and shoe industry westward and of cotton textiles 
to the South. In a society of fluid capital, migratory industries and 
shifting labor markets such as ours, unemployment is not a state prob- 
lem and regulatory measures need to be national in scope." 

In speaking of the AFL's continuing interest in the expansion of 
all forms of social security, Green added: "The spirit of pessimism does 
not prevail in the organized labor movement. Although our hopes have 
often been unrealized in respect to a particular piece of legislation or 
the reform of a patent evil, we continue to press our case by economic 
and political means at our disposal. . . . I know that organized labor will 
not fail to strive constantly for a better living for all mankind." 

In World War I 

William Green was a top officer in the UMW at the outbreak of 
World War I, though by the time America had entered that war, in 
April, 1917, he had already been a member of the AFL's Executive 
Council for nearly two years. 

The coming of the war in Europe in 1914, which brought a mu- 
nition production boom in this country and the rumblings of a pre- 
paredness campaign, had found the labor movement in no warlike 
mood. But when America entered the war in the spring of 1917, the 
unions stood ready to cooperate with the government in every way to 
win the war. Labor's first official act was the declaration at a nationwide 
conference of international unions, summoned by President Samuel 
Gompers, affirming American labor's allegiance to the government in 
peace and war, while stressing the maintenance of democratic pro- 
cedures in the emergency. By accident, that conference and the declara- 
tion preceded by a few days the formal declaration of war. 

A series of memoranda, or agreements, between the government 
and organized labor, signed by Newton D. Baker, then Secretary of 
War, and Samuel Gompers, accepted the union as the representative of 


its members, the union scales and working conditions of each locality, 
and set up joint adjustment boards on which the unions designated 
their representatives. This agreement covered construction work by 
the army and navy, shipbuilding and ship operations, the making of 
uniforms and other military equipment. The principle of labor repre- 
sentation, union recognition and collective bargaining appeared to be 
well accepted and became the policy of the War Labor Administrator. 
Labor was also given a place on all war labor agencies, including the 
National War Labor Board. 

Nevertheless, the unions were eager, in William Green's words, 
"to re-establish at the end of the war, for the first time in many indus- 
tries, a normal functioning relationship between employers and 
unions." Continued government control of labor relations, it was 
feared, might lead to government control of the unions and the death 
of an independent labor movement. In coal mining, the wartime ex- 
perience of government intervention in labor relations was especially 
unfortunate. Despite their continued demands for wage increases to 
meet the rapidly rising cost of living, revision of wage scales was denied 
to the miners. The undertaking not to strike while the war lasted was 
another handicap which kept the miners' hands tied. 

When the operators refused to consider the miners' demands in 
the spring of 1919 for cost-of-living pay increases, the union issued a 
strike call. An attempt to mediate by the Secretary of Labor having 
failed, President Wilson issued a statement demanding the recall of the 
strike order, and Attorney General Palmer asked for an injunction on 
the amazing ground that the wartime Lever Act still prohibited "prof- 
iteering in food and fuel." The ever-ready "injunction" Judge Ander- 
son in Indianapolis promptly obliged with a sweeping writ, to which 
the miners replied with a complete stoppage of work. 

Green Arrested 

Eighty-four officers of the UMW, along with Secretary-Treasurer 
Green, were arrested for contempt of court, and after some legal pyro- 
technics, Palmer asked the court to demand the withdrawal of the 


strike order. The request was complied with, but the miners still would 
not return to work. A month later, a commission, appointed by Presi- 
dent Wilson, with the union's consent, to consider the wage question, 
granted a wage increase, but a much smaller one than the soft coal 
miners had asked. "This was not a happy ending to the mine workers' 
hopeful effort to work in every way possible with the government/' 
Green caustically commented. The disastrous steel strike, led by Wil- 
liam Z. Foster, shortly followed, and the mass offensive of industry 
against union organization thereafter was on its way. 

The "open-shop" drive which gained full impetus after World 
War I was a bitter disappointment not only to the miners. The unions, 
which had proved during the war years that they were prepared to take 
their place in industry as well as in the trenches, had reason to hope, 
when the war ended, for a new friendly atmosphere in employer-labor 
relations in the huge non-union sectors in industry. This hope vanished 
when organized labor was suddenly confronted with the hard reality of 
an emerging and well-planned "open-shop" campaign sponsored by in- 
dustry leaders. Company unions, under the high-sounding name of the 
"American Plan," were being started in almost every industry; profes- 
sional strikebreakers, industrial spies, armed guards, company police, 
the blacklist, discharge for union activity were again brought into 
full play. 

Labor's battle for the union shop and against the fraudulent, boss- 
owned unions, lasted until 1937, when the Wagner Act was finally up- 
held by the Supreme Court. Seven years before that, the nightmare of 
the injunction, which for a generation hung over the head of every 
union officer in the country, was lifted after the Norris-LaGuardia Act 
became law. In describing the injunction as it affected the daily activi- 
ties of UMW, William Green tells that "many times it would become 
almost impossible for us to carry on our union affairs without violating 
an injunction. . . . We were often arrested, tried for contempt of court 
by the very judges who issued the injunctions. Since the courts had 
adopted the custom of issuing blanket injunctions covering 'all persons 
whomsoever,' it often happened that we violated court orders we knew 


nothing about. I believe that the use of the injunction in labor disputes 
has been one of the most serious perversions of justice in this country." 

Presidency Brings New Tasks 

William Green had a profound admiration for the Federation's 
founder. Samuel Gompers, Green often would say, understood and in- 
terpreted the spirit of the American workingman as no other man had 
ever succeeded in doing. And while Green occasionally disagreed with 
Gompers on labor and welfare legislation and on the best way of 
achieving it, by and large he clung to the "Old Chief's" trade-union 

Voluntarism as the only true basis for democracy, in and out of the 
workshop, a doctrine which Gompers constantly preached and prac- 
ticed, had served as the theme of his last message at the El Paso conven- 
tion of the AFL, a message which, due to failing vision, Gompers felt 
he could not himself deliver, and which he asked William Green to 
read to the delegates. "I want to urge devotion to the fundamentals of 
human liberty," the message concluded, "the principles of voluntarism. 
No lasting gain has ever come from compulsion. If we seek force; we 
but tear apart that which, when united, is invincible." 

William Green met his new tasks as presiding officer of the Fed- 
eration with the same spiritual attributes and dogged courage which 
he displayed during the long years as local and later national mine 
union officer. He saw clearly the hurdles which were facing organized 
labor-the millions of unorganized workers in the mass production in- 
dustries, the ever-growing army of women workers in the consumer in- 
dustries, the almost untouched, huge reservoir of "white collar" workers 
in the offices and plants of the nation— and he was painfully eager to 
increase the membership of the Federation by converting these multi- 
tudes to trade unionism. Moreover, the new AFL president watched 
with tense concern the mounting torrent of anti-union propaganda 
which kept reviling organized labor by extolling the virtues of com- 
pany unionism, the so-called American Plan. 

"Mission to America" 

To meet the challenge of the company union drive and its malevo- 
lent effect on public opinion, William Green, shortly after becoming 
president, undertook a one-man crusade to demonstrate — to industry 
and to the general public— the advantages of genuine trade unionism 
and to pierce, simultaneously, the inertia of the mass of non-union 
labor which remained apathetic to the call of union organization. 
Armed with inexhaustible persistence and an unswerving faith in the 
cause he was advocating, Green covered in the next half-dozen years 
some of the most important forums of the country— churchmen's con- 
ventions, schools of higher learning, chambers of commerce among 
them— preaching the gospel of organized labor. 

He spoke at Harvard to a class of seniors at the School of Business 
Administration, and addressed audiences at Dartmouth and Columbia. 
Everywhere he emphasized the historic logic of the labor movement 
and stressed the point that modern conditions were calling for the wis- 
dom of the conference table rather than settlement of labor disputes by 
"tactics of force." He emphatically rejected the theory that "differences 
between capital and labor are irreconcilable." Such a doctrine, Green 
argued, scorned the advances made by civilization and made a mockery 
of human progress. Organized labor, he said, was ready to replace the 
"might makes right" motto with a faith reflecting more modern ethics. 

In 1925, the AFL, by convention approval, set up a new wage 
policy. This move, marking the second basic change in trade union 
wage policy since the start of the century, called for workers' real wages 
in the sense of purchasing power, coupled with a continued reduction 
in the number of hours making up the working day reflecting man's 
increasing power of production. This new policy was followed the 
next year, 1926, by the beginning of a drive for the forty-hour, five-day 

In clarifying this policy, later in that year, in an address at Prince- 
ton University, Green made it clear that he was interested not merely 
in promoting harmony between industry and labor but in increasing 


wages and shortening the workday. "Organized labor vigorously con- 
tends that the real wage of the workers must equip them to buy the 
commodities which their skill, their training and genius produce. 
There is no other way by which industry can be maintained upon a 
productive basis and the general prosperity of the people can be ad- 
vanced," he told a large number of the faculty and students who came 
to hear him. 

Green's scores of public addresses and appeals during that period 
undoubtedly reached a great many industry leaders and affected large 
sections of public opinion. Yet, while appreciative of the cordiality of 
his audiences, he was realistic enough to recognize that, on the whole, 
industry was failing to distinguish between the American labor move- 
ment and the labor movements abroad, which placed major emphasis 
on politics. The huge non-union bloc of employers continued adamant 
to trade union relations throughout the 20's. In fact, throughout that 
hectic decade of mushrooming paper profits, the tide against expansion 
of trade union organization continued to rise and even the organized 
skilled trades had to muster every ounce of resistance to withstand 
attacks by die-hard elements in their industries. 

Crisis Hits Two Ways 

It was the eve of the historic Wall Street crash, and that financial 
debacle was followed by an economic panic which rocked the industrial 
structure of the country to its roots. But the four years of widespread 
joblessness, while they slowed down or weakened some of the strongest 
unions, also struck a powerful blow at the anti-union die-hards. The 
financial crash and the economic debacle served as a psychological anti- 
dote which tended to dissipate the thick anti-union sentiment which 
gathered force since the end of World War I among the general public 
and in governmental spheres, judicial as well as administrative. In and 
out of Congress criticism of labor injunctions became more vocal. In 
1930, the Senate refused to ratify the elevation of Judge John J. Parker 
to the Supreme Court because of his bad record on anti-labor injunc- 
tions. Individual states, led by Wisconsin, acted to outlaw "yellow dog" 


contracts. The Supreme Court likewise became aware of the human 
rights of labor. 

President Green was quick to raise his voice in consonance with 
the new trend. In one of his editorials in the "American Federationist" 
he demanded: "Shall the power of government do nothing for these 
human rights and maintain property rights only? Does one man be- 
cause he owns property have the right to deny more than 4,000 the 
inalienable rights of free men— the right to choose what organization 
they shall join, the right to unite to promote their happiness and wel- 

Simultaneously, Green continued actively to wage the campaign 
against labor injunctions, a drive which reached high momentum dur- 
ing the depression years. It was climaxed by the passage of the Norris- 
LaGuardia bill in Congress. The bill, enacted into law on March 23, 

1932, outlawed "yellow dog" contracts and declared in effect that work- 
ers have a property right in their collective activities which is no less 
valid than the rights and interests of their employers and must be 
given consideration when restraining orders are issued. The Norris- 
LaGuardia Act, hailed by the AFL as a great victory, was greeted by 
President Green as a precursor of a number of liberal labor laws later 
enacted by the Roosevelt administration, which was swept into power 
in the fall of that year. 

60 Million in Despair 

The blight of unemployment, however, continued to plague the 
working people of America, union and non-union, and the AFL and 
its leadership continued to wrestle with this gruesome problem which 
appeared to grow in intensity and resulting misery. Even at the peak 
of 1929 prosperity some two million workers were without jobs, but 
from 1930 to 1931 unemployment rose to 8,738,000, and by March, 

1933, unemployment reached an all-time peak of 15,653,000. Counting 
all the idle workers and those dependent on them, more than 60 mil- 
lion persons were dragged into poverty, uncertainty and despair— one- 
half of the entire population. Families, overburdened with debts and 


facing slow starvation, were losing their grip on self-reliance and were 
driven into dependency. Thus the witches' cauldron of speculation was 
boiling over while the unwary public took the foam of the speculator's 
brew to be tangible wealth. 

William Green, who felt keenly the urgency of a solution to the 
devastating unemployment problem beyond the palliative of temporary 
relief, realized likewise that it was beyond the power of any individual 
group to provide a realistic answer to the grievous situation which in- 
volved deeply-rooted social, industrial and monetary factors. It became 
clear to him, and he vigorously expressed this thought from convention 
platforms and at public meetings, that the hour called for a drastic and 
joint effort by all organized national groups and bodies to stem the 


In April, 1930, President Green offered to the Senate Committee 
on Commerce, on behalf of the Executive Council, a five-point plan 
which included, besides periodic censuses of unemployment, the train- 
ing and retraining of workers made jobless by technological changes, 
a nationwide employment service, a permanent program of public 
works in periods of depression, and a proposal for a simultaneous cut 
in working hours in all industries, with the maintenance of the same 
weekly pay. The AFL program, however, received but slight support 
from the various Congressional committees which had to deal with the 
grievous unemployment situation, and Green's repeated appeals to 
President Hoover to call a national economic conference to take drastic 
measures for halting the snowballing economic paralysis had no effect. 

NRA, Wagner Act 

At the annual AFL convention, in November, 1932, however, 
with Franklin D. Roosevelt already elected along with a new Congress, 
President Green appealed to the delegates to sanction a proposal for a 
five-day work-week and six-hour workday by statute. Green put the 
issue squarely to the convention: either the country's industry is to be 
completely dismantled and wiped out, or some effective and far-reach- 
ing adjustments must be made. The convention, without a single dis- 


senting vote, approved the step. President Green thereupon submitted 
to the new Congress early in 1933 the 30-hour-week plan as a "basis 
for economic recovery.'' 

A bill for a 30-hour week passed the Senate in the spring of 1933, 
but a legislative compromise meanwhile had been worked out and em- 
bodied in a substitute measure combining a number of labor proposals 
with the program framed by the Roosevelt administration. That meas- 
ure was the National Recovery Act. 

The New Deal program was a conscious effort to restore to the 
American workingman the rights and the prerogatives to which he was 
entitled as a citizen but which Congress and the courts had whittled 
away over a great many years by legislation and judicial interpretation. 
With the injunction already curbed a year before by the Norris- 
LaGuardia Act, the new Congress proceeded to establish the right of 
labor to organize in the famous Section 7(A) of the Recovery Act 
which, in explicit terms, guaranteed to all "employees the right to 
organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own 
choosing, and shall be free from interference, restraint, or coercion by 
employers of labor, or their agents., in the designation of such repre- 
sentatives or in self-organization or in other concerted activities for the 
purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection." 
Section 7(A) also provided that no workers, employed or seeking 
employment, shall be required as a condition of employment to join 
any company union. 

Under the Recovery Act, wdiich went into effect on June 16, 1933, 
it is true, labor was given no direct participation in the formulation of 
minimum wage and maximum hour standards. Even so, under the 
initial re-employment agreements promulgated under the NRA and 
under the subsequent codes, a vast program w T as achieved. But in the 
spring of 1935, the Supreme Court declared the NRA unconstitutional, 
and before the year was out a survey made by the AFL revealed that as 
a direct result of the abandonment of the maximum hours rule, more 
than 1,800,000 were again deprived of their jobs. 

Within a few months, however, the Warner Act, into which the 


contents of Section 7(A) of the NRA were incorporated, became law. 
The Wagner Act was promulgated as an extension of the "commerce 
and general welfare" clauses of the Constitution to safeguard it from 
adverse interpretation by the Supreme Court. The new act established 
the right of collective bargaining and majority rule in all industrial 
plants in unmistakably clear terms; it defined unfair labor practices, 
and provided a simple method of enforcing the law. Organized labor 
hailed it as its "Magna Charta," a law that placed labor on a plane of 
equality with industry within the social framework of the nation. 

The Wage-Hour Act 

While continuing to press for the 30-hour bill, the AFL, under the 
direction of President Green, was faced with resurgent opposition by 
reactionary employer groups, which had become encouraged by the 
invalidation of the NRA, to any minimum-wage and maximum-hour 

The Fair Labor Standards Law, finally adopted as a satisfactory 
compromise, was based on the principle of a gradual reduction of 
weekly hours of work and gradual increase of minimum wage rates, 
affecting the total readjustment over a running period of years. Apply- 
ing only to employers operating in interstate commerce, it affected 
some 1 1 million workers in the low-wage levels at the time of its enact- 

Over the years, however, the range of the new act, better known 
as the Wage-Hour Law, has expanded to take in more millions and its 
minimum wage rates have made healthy climbs, from the original 40 
cents per hour to a 70-cent minimum. It is regarded as one of the most 
beneficial and enduring labor acts passed during the New Deal era. 

The New Union Sweep 

The new labor laws gave the trade union movement a powerful 
spurt. Millions of unorganized workers became actively interested in 
union affiliation. Optimism in the trade union world ran so high that 
at the 1933 convention of the Federation, enthusiastic predictions visu- 


alized an early membership potential of 25 million. To be sure, a great 
many die-hard employers continued to fight desperately against the 
unionization of their workers, but they clearly were waging a losing 
battle. By the time the Wagner Act was approved by the Supreme 
Court in 1937, the union movement had more than doubled its mem- 
bership; and this notable increase, it may be noted, came about despite 
acute discord and disunion within the national labor family. 

Throughout that period of high hopes and accelerated activity on 
all fronts, President Green, with the full support and encouragement 
of the Executive Council and the unceasing endorsements of AFL con- 
ventions, had kept up a drive for the adoption of an accelerated national 
program of security through unemployment benefits, old-age benefits 
and public assistance for maternal and child welfare. He advocated 
with equal fervor a national health insurance plan. He fought for the 
adoption of a low-rent housing and slum-clearing program, the pro- 
gram subsequently embodied in the U.S. Housing Act. He continued 
hammering for the support of a long-range program of permanent pub- 
lic works which would provide public channels for private investments 
in periods of depression. 

In step with his steadfast philosophy of mutuality of interests 
among all groups in the national life, Green constantly gave full ex- 
pression to the thought that he wanted a "joint cooperative endeavor 
on the part of all representative groups to plan for the future, analyze 
trends and conditions and devise methods for bringing new and more 
equitable balance in the country's economic relationships." 

Men — and Policies 

In retrospect, it may be observed that during these years of trade 
union upsweep in the 30's, as in the preceding years of ebbtide and 
hard-pulling against a stonewall of employer antagonism, William 
Green carried on his presidency job with unflinching dignity, treating 
obstacles and roadblocks as passing deterrents only. 

There had been divided opinion in those hectic years also in the 
AFL's top executive group— sharp jurisdictional disputes, disagreements 


on the use of political pressures, varying outlooks on cooperation with 
labor abroad, and differing attitudes on labor and social legislation. 
The espousal of conflicting policies involved such pillars on the Execu- 
tive Council as William L. Hutcheson, indomitable president of the 
Carpenters' Brotherhood from 1915 to 1951, Daniel J. Tobin, forceful 
chieftain of the Teamsters' Brotherhood, largest single AFL union, 
George M. Harrison, affable president of the Railway Clerks, Matthew 
Woll, custodian of AFL philosophy and front-rank fighter for world 
free labor, David Dubinsky, dynamic leader of the Ladies' Garment 
Workers, and Harry C. Bates, head of the Bricklayers and Masons and 
a key figure in the building trades. 

William Green, it is fair to state, has owned no magic formula for 
resolving all recurring conflicts of opinion on internal as well as ex- 
ternal policy, but he has had one sure compass to guide him— a firm 
resolution to keep the AFL functioning and to preserve intact the great 
family of organized workers to which he is emotionally tied by a mil- 
lion strings. In this, beyond cavil, he has succeeded eminently. And it 
is also fair to state that through the years the leading figures of the 
Executive Council, regardless of their personal views, have given him 
consistently loyal support. 

On the Eve of World War II 

While Hitler's drive for world domination began unfolding itself 
in the mid-3 O's, America, under the pressure of dominant pacifist strains 
of public opinion passed a "Neutrality Act" in the hope of steering 
clear of war involvements. In major outlines, the escapist state of mind 
of that period followed the pattern of the first two years of World War 
I, when Woodrow Wilson was re-elected in 1916 with the aid of the 
"he-kept-us-ou t-of -war ' ' slogan . 

Speaking for the body of organized labor, as late as May, 1939, 
William Green was saying, "American labor wants peace, not war . . . 
We, therefore, ask that the present Neutrality Act be continued in 
effect. We are not insensitive to the struggle that is going on in this 
world, but in the light of World War experience, we hold that war 


settles nothing and that future generations should not be asked to serve 
in the trenches." And when, upon the invasion of Poland, England and 
France entered the war against the Nazis, he still held that "labor 
firmly believes that we should have no part in this European war . . . 
We want policies best calculated to keep us free of European entangle- 

"Geography Is No Security" 

That state of mind, insofar as the organized workers of the country 
were concerned, however, did not last long. The surge of the Nazi 
armies across the European continent, the conquest of Norway and 
Denmark, the Dunkirk epic, and the virtual siege of Britain quickly 
swept complacency out of the minds and hearts of the American people. 
Roosevelt's vigorous national defense program was hailed by the AFL's 
Executive Council in a statement declaring that the labor movement is 
"solidly and squarely behind the President in national preparedness 
to advance and defend American ideals of life," warning, however, that 
in defense production there shall be no lowering or suspension of labor 
standards. In an editorial in the "American Federation is t," President 
Green declared that "Geography provides no security from the destruc- 
tion that stalks Europe." 

Loathing the Hitler-Stalin pact, which gave the Nazis the green 
light for the invasion of Poland and led subsequently to the butchery 
of millions of non-combatants by Hitler's blood-soaked "supermen," 
William Green, at a great public dinner in his honor on June 26, 1940, 
at the Hotel Commodore in New York, declared that the democracies 
of Europe had, in a measure, invited their own destruction at the hands 
of Hitler's armies because they had watched in cold blood and without 
lifting a protesting voice the ruthless destruction of the Jewish popula- 
tion of Germany only a few years before. 

"As we look back now we see clearly that the democracies of 
Europe might have saved themselves if they had said to Hitler at the 
moment he started his first anti-Semitic purges: 'Stop! We will not per- 
mit such inhuman persecution. It is a menace to our civilization and a 


disgrace to the world.' " Green said, adding, "There is another lesson 
we must not forget and that is that Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini are 
partners in international crime and that Nazism, Communism and 
Fascism are but different labels for the same system of totalitarianism." 

Four-Square on Defense 

By the summer of 1940, the defense effort was in full swing, with 
plants converting rapidly for the production of armaments as Presi- 
dent Roosevelt was signing the nation's first peacetime draft bill. Early 
in 1941, President Green declared, "To date, there has not been a 
single strike that has impeded the defense program, and it must be 
borne in mind that wars of today are determined largely in the shops 
and by the ability to maintain supplies." He, however, expressed some 
worry over "danger of defense production workers being stranded in 
munition areas or in industries expanded for defense production" who 
might be sucked into a vacuum of unemployment unless sane and 
practical channels of civilian re-employment were given deliberate 
thought in advance. 

Events moved rapidly from that point to a climax. The enactment 
of "Lend Lease" was followed in the spring of 1941 by President Roose- 
velt's proclamation of unlimited national emergency, and speaking for 
the AFL, President Green greeted it with a statement that "we are in 
a world struggle, and we shall be vitally affected by the outcome of this 
struggle, which cannot be decided without our aid." 

Qear-Headed on Domestic Reds 

In June, 1941, Hitler invaded his erstwhile ally, Soviet Russia. 
Millions of Americans who had as little use for Stalin as they had for 
Hitler were suddenly faced with a weird world situation which, willy- 
nilly, projected Stalin's oligarchy as our ally in the fight to destroy 
Hitler. An ironic by-play of that moment also was the sudden conver- 
sion of the domestic Stalin stooges, who had until then denounced the 
American preparedness program as a "betrayal of the cause of world 


peace/' to a fervid endorsement of Lend Lease, of unlimited aid to 
Britain, France and, of course, to Soviet Russia. 

Only one sector, and a very important one, of the general com- 
munity appeared to have kept its head clear on this sudden Communist 
somersault. In a ringing editorial in the "American Federationist" of 
July, 1941, William Green wrote: "The right-about-face of the Com- 
munist Party since the Nazis invaded Russia constitutes no reason for 
us to alter our attitude towards them. Communists' support of the de- 
fense program in order to aid the Soviet Union does not remove the 
reasons why labor fights them as deadly enemies. In this time of world- 
wide peril to the cause of worldwide freedom, it is fitting for a revival 
of unionism and individual determination to put the cause of human 
freedom above all other considerations." And again: "The whole 
nation depends on the unions to maintain Americanism on the labor 
front; it is essential, therefore, that no Communist be permitted to act 
as an officer of any union affiliated with the AFL." 

Strikes "Out for Duration" 

Immediately after America entered the war, the AFL solemnly 
declared that "strikes are out for the duration," and this pledge, with 
but minor lapses, was faithfully observed to the last day of hostilities. 
"This is American labor's war," William Green emphatically stated, 
"and our strike record, I am convinced, will prove an example of what 
free men, with an indomitable will to win, will do voluntarily for their 

While labor's record during the war served to accentuate the 
staunch loyalty of America's wage earners in the defense of their home- 
land's ways of living, it failed to impress many domineering industry 
leaders who even during the war refused to abandon or shelve hostility 
to the unions. Already, a few months after the country became involved 
in the global fight, in April, 1942, sniping at labor was started in Con- 
gress and in some sections of the press largely because the AFL was 
demanding effective price control and also protection for small busi- 
ness in armament production. While the war lasted, however, anti- 


labor bills introduced in Congress were pigeonholed and critical situa- 
tions were avoided. Perhaps the finest tribute paid to labor during the 
entire conflict was the statement issued in March, 1944, by the War 
Investigating Committee (the Truman Committee) in speaking of the 
manpower factor contributed by labor: "This astounding performance 
—the rise of 76% over the 1939 record-exceeds anything of its kind 
ever achieved in the history of the world. The results are the best an- 
swer to the critics of the home front." 

Postwar Era in Of&ng 

As the war was drawing to a close, the labor movement, for the 
second time in a generation, began casting its eyes toward the oncom- 
ing postwar period and its tortuous aftermath. Veterans' re-employ- 
ment, reconversion, postwar wages, the re-entrance of fighting men into 
the climate of a world again at peace, and not the least— the question 
of labor's share in peacemaking— were churning rapidly in the minds 
of labor's leadership. The AFL, speaking through the voice of William 
Green, was demanding a place for labor at the forthcoming peace con- 
ferences. "In asking for representation in the making of peace, labor 
is simply asking for service, not special privilege." 

On April 12, 1945, the unexpected death of Franklin Delano 
Roosevelt shocked the nation. In Europe the war was nearing its fate- 
ful end, but in the Pacific the final stages of the conflict still demanded 
huge sacrifices. William Green, in commenting on the demise of FDR, 
said: "His death constitutes a heavy loss to every wage earner in the 
nation ... It is a heavy loss also to the entire freedom-loving world 
Our new President, Harry S. Truman, is ideally fitted by nature and 
experience to carry on. An able and sincere man, he can and will unite 
America not only by consummation of military victory but for the in- 
auguration of a postwar program of enduring peace and domestic pros- 

William Green's hopes for domestic prosperity following the war 
were largely realized. His prophecy, or, rather, hope that President 
Truman would unite the country behind him in an effort for domestic 


progress, however, was toppled by the fierce partisanship of reactionary 
politicos and industrial tycoons whose hate of his Fair Deal policies 
was only exceeded by their hunger for power. Nor have the past seven 
years since the war came to an end given the world even a glimmer of 
hope for an enduring peace. 

Taft-Hartley Arrives 

By the time the Wagner Act reached its tenth anniversary, in 
June, 1945, organized labor realized that a solid bloc of anti-labor Con- 
gressmen and Senators, with Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio as its chief 
brain-truster, was planning to scuttle, or emasculate organized labor's 
"Magna Charta" and to substitute for it a law that would shear the 
unions of their position of relative equality in their relations with 

Their worst fears soon were realized when the Old Guard Repub- 
licans, capitalizing on the country's postwar weariness, captured in the 
1946 elections both houses of Congress and, within a few months, passed 
the Taft-Hartley Industrial Disputes Act, which made a shambles 
of the Wagner Act and revived labor's memories of company cops, 
lockouts, broken strikes and ex-parte injunctions. Stripped of verbiage, 
the Taft-Hartley Act deprived the unions of the closed shop, its choic- 
est guarantee of union shop security, and outlawed as "secondary boy- 
cott" the refusal on the part of union labor to handle struck-shop or 
non-union products, a formidable economic weapon against strike- 
breaking by indirection. In legalizing injunctions against unions under 
a variety of conditions, virtually outlawed for 15 years by the Norris- 
LaGuardia Act, the Taft-Hartley Act again made unions vulnerable to 
court actions. 

This barefaced hostility of the 80th Congress to organized labor 
aroused William Green to a fighting pitch. When the Taft-Hartley bills 
were first introduced, the AFL president, in testimony before Con- 
gressional committees and in numerous speeches and articles, inveighed 
against the proposed law with evangelical fervor, as a "piece of vicious 
anti-union legislation." Green sparked the fight against the proposed 


act, engaging in two radio debates, one with Senator Taft and another 
with Earl Bunting, then president of the National Manufacturers 
Association. Together with New York's former Governor, now United 
States Senator, Herbert H. Lehman, AFL Secretary-Treasurer George 
Meany, and ILGWU President David Dubinsky, he addressed a great 
Madison Square Garden "veto" meeting in New York at which Presi- 
dent Truman was exhorted to veto the anti-union act if it were passed. 
When the Taft-Hartley Act was passed over President Truman's veto, 
President Green declared that the Federation would at once begin a 
campaign for its repeal. 

LLPE — New Political Arm 

In a sense, the adoption of the Taft-Hartley Act has served to 
create a focal point of new political awareness throughout the Federa- 
tion. At its 1947 convention, at San Francisco, the anti-labor law 
spawned by "Mr. Republican," a tag Senator Taft is particularly fond 
of, became a central theme on the convention's agenda. Without a dis- 
senting vote, the delegates voted to organize Labor's League for Politi- 
cal Education, to be financed by contributions of individual trade 
unionists-the Taft-Hartley Act forbade contributions from union 
funds for political activity on the federal level— to strengthen and to 
coordinate the fight against political candidates hostile to organized 
labor. While the Federation has for more than 50 years adhered to a 
policy of "rewarding friends and punishing enemies of labor," the ways 
and means for carrying out that strategy, however, had in the past been 
rather loose and lacked coordination. 

Labor's League for Political Education, known as LLPE, has since 
gone through two Congressional campaigns, and is currently getting 
ready for the 1952 election. It is organized as a nationwide network and 
functions throughout the year, equipped with a staff of experienced 
political workers and using the airwaves as well as television to deliver 
its message. While its immediate or concrete results to date have been 
moderate, its value as a political educational instrument is rated quite 
highly. It has brought the urgency of labor politics into hundreds of 


thousands of workers' homes where political awareness was lacking 

Cold War Finds Labor Alerted 

The national emergency created by the cold war, the draft which 
pulled out hundreds of thousands of young men from the factories only 
a short few years after millions of their older brothers had been de- 
mobilized, found the trade union movement this time fully alerted to 
the gravity of the emerging world crisis. The Kremlin was making a 
mockery of every pledge of peaceful behavior it had made to its war 
allies and was getting ready to sink its fangs deeper into the weakened 
body of Western Europe. 

Speaking of the European Recovery Program, promulgated by 
President Truman in the spring of 1948, President Green commented, 
"The basic purpose of this comprehensive relief move, as labor under- 
stands it, is to enable European nations to restore the economic founda- 
tions which maintained the European way of life characterized by 
human rights and freedom." Later, in June, 1949, he greeted the 
Atlantic Pact as "representing a definite change in U. S. policy" but 
accepting it as an imperative necessity as "the time has come when 
democratic nations must act together for the protection of their liber- 

This endorsement of the government's foreign policy by the AFL 
and its wholehearted support to the national rearmament drive, has not 
blinded its eyes to the urgency of watchful vigilance over both policy 
and practices connected with the defense mobilization program. With 
the experience of the early 40's fresh in mind, when industry's "dollar- 
a-year-men" swarmed all government policy and production war agen- 
cies with organized labor reduced, not too politely, to areas of timid 
observation, the AFL— working in unison with the CIO and other inde- 
pendent unions-formed in the summer of 1950 a "United Labor 
Policy Committee." The unions had been given some minor places in 
the defense outfit with but meagre voices on the advisory level, and the 
new labor committee undertook a drive to secure a stronger position 


for labor spokesmen, chiefly in the price and wage stabilization sectors 
o£ the program. 

Having met with rebuffs from the top command at the Defense 
Mobilization Office and with but little sympathy in Congress, the 
United Labor Policy Committee, in a dramatic move, withdrew in 
February, 1951, all labor representatives serving on the mobilization 
agencies. Declaring itself "thoroughly disillusioned" with the attitude 
of the powers- that-be in the defense program, the United Labor Policy 
Committee declared that it "regrets that to date labor has not enjoyed 
opportunity for full participation in the mobilization effort." Fore- 
shadowing this decision. President Green, in a public statement follow- 
ing the declaration by President Truman of a national emergency in 
January, 1951, declared that "no functional group has a monopoly of 
industrial experience . . . Teamwork, the distinctively American prac- 
tice, gives the best results ... In this period of emergency, we urge 
unlimited use of teamwork." 

Equal Sacrifice a "Must" for All 

On March 21, 1951, a meeting of 700 union leaders, summoned 
by the United Labor Policy Committee, met in Washington and de- 
manded a new Defense Production Act to supplant what it termed the 
"Big Business" show which was running defense mobilization all the 
way down the line. President Green and Secretary-Treasurer Meany 
both emphasized at that meeting that "the combined segments of the 
American labor community call for 'equality of sacrifice' which the 
present emergency requires from all Americans." Both AFL leaders 
denounced exorbitant rents and spiraling prices without rigid controls 
to hold in check lust for profits, and "the larding of the Production Act 
with special privileges for business interests." 

The United Labor Policy Committee later met with President 
Truman and agreed to join a National Advisory Board on Mobilization 
Policy. Some substantial administrative reshuffling was subsequently 
effected which gave representatives from both the AFL and the CIO 
some key spots in the mobilization outfit. The 82nd Congress, like its 


predecessor, the 81st Congress, largely dominated by business-dedicated 
Republican tories and Dixiecrats, however, stuck to its anti-labor guns 
and "to-hell-with-the -consumer" attitudes. 

Grappling With the Red Hydra 

The desperate and protracted fight which the American trade 
unions had had to wage in the years following World War I against the 
"open shop" drive, an outright effort to crush legitimate trade union- 
ism by substitution of employer-dominated groups, became even more 
complicated in the early 20's by an insiduous crusade from the "left," 
the Communist campaign to invade and capture AFL unions and, 
ultimately, to gain thereby control of the American labor movement. 

In discussing early Communist infiltration moves, William Green 
later wrote that the attempts of the Red agents to gain a foothold 
among the miners, one of their first infiltration efforts, were never suc- 
cessful. Only in Nova Scotia did they gain any strength but that attempt 
soon petered out after the Nova Scotia charter was withdrawn for 
failure to obey international union orders. In a number of other 
unions, however, the Communist boring policy met with much greater 
success. For a time they appeared to gain supremacy in the garment 
trades, in furs and in some transport unions. They were ultimately 
defeated by the ILGWU, but not before they had caused almost irrepa- 
rable harm to that union. In the Fur Workers' Union, unfortunately, 
they remained in control, with the result that it has lost much of its 
strength in New York, its chief market. 

"When the Communists launched their campaign to gain control 
of the AFL," Green continued, "we were not unfamiliar with such 
previous disruptive attempts. During the period when the IWW had 
been active, it had also made efforts to destroy or control established 
unions within the Federation . , . The IWW, however, had never been 
a serious threat, and during the war its strength steadily declined. The 
Communists, however, became a greater menace to the AFL than the 
IWW had ever been because of their stealthy, conspiratory tactics to 
gain control of our unions by 'boring from within.' " 


No "Freedom of Choice" 

In the first years of the Soviet rule in Russia, William Green, 
along with many other leaders of labor and liberal-minded Americans, 
had been inclined to the viewpoint that while Communist activities in 
America were disruptive and destructive and had to be combated at 
every step and turn, the "Russian workers should be left free from all 
outside interference in their choice of the economic and political sys- 
tems under which they choose to live." This judgment, however, has 
undergone a drastic change. The stark revelation of the total absence 
of any "freedom of choice" in either economic or political matters to 
Soviet inhabitants; of the millions enslaved in the "corrective" labor 
camps in the Soviet domain; the Stalin-Hitler pact of 1939, and all the 
subsequent acts of international perfidy and fraud committed by the 
Kremlin, have long since opened the eyes of practically all Americans 
to the overriding urgency of a defensive alliance of all freedom-loving 
peoples against the menace of world Communism. 

In this alliance, the oppressed and helpless peoples of the Soviet 
empire obviously cannot be classed as disinterested "free agents" who 
need no help or "interference" in determining their own destinies. 

The CIO — and "Labor Peace" 

A dramatic point in American labor history was reached in the 
formation of the "Committee for Industrial Organization" following 
turbulent debates at the 1935 AFL convention in Atlantic City. Piloted 
by John L. Lewis, president of the United Mine Workers, this com- 
mittee, set up originally to promote unionization in the mass produc- 
tion industries outside regular AFL organizational channels, three 
years later became the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), a 
full-fledged rival central body to the AFL. 

Lewis was joined in this move by a half-dozen other unions whose 
leadership advocated more aggressive organization in the mass produc- 
tion industries, notably in autos, steel, rubber, oil and communications. 
A number of these unions, however, which never contemplated dual 


unionism, returned to the AFL after the Committee for Industrial 
Organization became the Congress of Industrial Organizations at its 
Pittsburgh convention in the fall of 1938. 

To William Green the defection of Lewis and of the United Mine 
Workers in particular had come as a grievous shock in which the per- 
sonal element was not lacking. The Mine Workers had been union 
home to Green, an emotional center with which fifty years of his life 
had been bound up. The break also came at a time when, in William 
Green's words, the AFL was gathering strength and resources for a 
full-fledged attack in the very same areas toward which the Lewis move- 
ment announced it was heading. The Lewis viewpoint at that 1935 
convention, besides, had been heavily outvoted both in committee and 
on the convention floor. By every standard, therefore. Green regarded 
the Lewis-inspired defection as an open violation of democratic proce- 
dure and a flagrant revolt against the supreme authority of the AFL, its 
annual convention. 

Green resented even more strongly the effort of Lewis to split the 
convention and public opinion on what, he asserted, was the unreal and 
spurious issue of industrial versus craft unionism. Having been brought 
up in a militant industrial union, where every man in and around the 
mines belonged to the same local regardless of skill, Green refused to 
accept the logic of division within the trade union movement on craft 
versus industrial lines. Within the AFL itself there were at that time— 
and have since been— autonomous industrial, semi-industrial, as well as 
craft unions. Green bitterly assailed Lewis as a man "consumed with 
personal ambition who gave the lie to the democratic process after it 
had rejected his leadership." 

The history of the following dozen years covering relations be- 
tween the AFL and the CIO need not be recited here— it is too well 
known generally, for one thing, and this limited space forbids it. Green's 
original reaction to the CIO and to John Lewis, however, has stood up 
well through the run of years. By now, as the bitter animosity of the 
early days in both camps has subsided considerably, it has become quite 
clear that the craft-industrial issue lies dead and buried. William 


Green's appraisal of Lewis appears to have been amply justified by 
succeeding events. After seven years of what seemed to be unchallenged 
CIO leadership, Lewis had been forced to leave it in a mood of frus- 
tration, yielding his post to an officer who for many years had been his 
second in command in the United Mine Workers. A few years later he 
re-entered the AFL, remaining in it for one year and departing again 
in a huff because an overwhelming majority of the 1947 convention of 
the AFL refused to go along with him on the question of signing anti- 
Communist affidavits. 

"No Substitute for Organic Unity" 

During the last war, the AFL and the CIO cooperated frequently 
both on national and local levels in keeping the country's industrial 
machine at a high tempo. With the passing of the Taft-Hartley Act, 
CIO and AFL committees in many districts have worked together po- 
litically to help defeat some of labor's most outspoken enemies. The 
Communist invasion of South Korea and the ensuing preparedness 
drive which has put the country on a semi-war footing industrially, 
brought into being early in 1951 a "United Labor Policy Committee," 
formed for the avowed purpose of strengthening labor's influence in 
the government's mobilization agencies. 

As told elsewhere here, this ULPC was dissolved one year later, 
without too much audible rancor. Its dissolution caused some chagrin 
among those who had expected that the ULPC was a definitive fore- 
runner of labor unity. From the AFL came the explanation that the 
committee's usefulness had come to an end after it served the purpose 
for which it was created. The AFL said the next step in united labor 
action, if it is ever to materialize, should be organic unity, an all-em- 
bracing merger which the AFL has been supporting since labor peace 
talks started in 1937. In "Federationist" editorials and in recent public 
statements, President Green has ascribed the CIO's disinclination to 
discuss seriously a labor merger to fear of being overwhelmed by a 
numerically much stronger partner. This, however, he declared, is an 
unrealistic attitude. "Trade unionists do mix, and it is more likely that 


the CIO unions would exercise more influence in a united organiza- 
tion than their present numerical strength would indicate," he as- 
serted. On the other hand, organic unity would be of great help to 
labor on a national scale. "Organized labor's stock is at a low ebb in 
Congress, and many other groups wield far more influence," Green 
went on to say. But temporary committees and makeshifts can hardly 
be expected to achieve basic results. "There is no substitute for organic 
unity in the labor movement, there can be none," and the AFL pres- 
ident is convinced that there are no obstacles to organic unity that can- 
not be overcome given a climate of honest give-and-take and of funda- 
mental good will. 

"Hands Across Seas" 60 Years Old 

AFL contacts with organized labor abroad began in 1894 when 
the fledgling federation voted for a regular exchange of convention 
delegates with the British Trades Union Congress, an exchange it 
has faithfully adhered to for nearly 60 years. Eighteen years later, in 
1912, the AFL joined the National Trade Union Centers, an organiza- 
tion formed by the German and Scandinavian trade unions, which was 
seeking affiliates in Europe and other continents. This body failed to 
meet the severe tests of labor fraternity during World War I and it 
fell apart. In 1919, however, it was reorganized as the International 
Federation of Trade Unions. 

For a number of years the AFL declined to accept membership in 
the IFTU because the new body would not undertake to respect the 
autonomy of affiliated national trade union movements. Only after 
the AFL had obtained the explicit guarantee that the American trade 
union center was sovereign in its own affairs did it join the IFTU in 
the middle 1930's. With the rise of totalitarian states in Europe— in So- 
viet Russia, Nazi Germany and in Fascist Italy— their state-controlled 
unions sought on several occasions admission into the IFTU, but were 
rejected. During World War II, after Hitler had cast his treaty with 
Stalin out the window and invaded Russia, the AFL was asked to join 
an Anglo-Soviet Commission. The AFL declined the invitation stating 


that it could not compromise on principle. In his reply, President 
Green bluntly declared, "We have common war objectives with Soviet 
Russia, that's true, but our objectives for world peace and labor wel- 
fare in general are not identical." 

"No Truck With Red Unions'* 

The then general secretary of the British Trades Union Congress, 
Walter Citrine, thereupon decided to ignore the existing IFTU and 
issued a call for a "world labor conference," inviting all organizations 
from each country to meet in London, including Soviet state-run 
unions. The AFL again rejected the invitation to that conference 
which took place in October 1945. "Free trade unions," President 
Green for a second time explained in an editorial in the "Federation- 
ist," "cannot work together with state-controlled unions . . . Soviet 
union officers must be approved by trusted representatives of their 
Communist Party. They are not free to negotiate their wages and con- 
ditions of work. Infractions of work rules, failure to produce as ex- 
pected, tardiness send thousands of Russian workers to 'corrective' 
camps. It is estimated that the number of persons in these man-de- 
vouring penal camps fluctuates between 12 and 20 millions." 

Yet, while refusing to line up with the so-called World Federation 
of Trade Unions, the AFL leadership kept its sights high upon the 
international labor scene in the Western Hemisphere, in Europe and 
in other world pivotal centers. This intense fraternity with free labor 
everywhere, in countries where it had been weakened by the last war 
or had ceased to exist owing to ruthless repression by totalitarian re- 
gimes, has in the past few years become a functional part of the AFL, 
growing in depth and in volume and supplying a highly satisfying 
spiritual content throughout the Federation. This story of what labor, 
and the AFL in particular, has been doing in the international field in 
this gravest of world crises which has now lasted for nearly twelve 
years obviously cannot be told in full in this brief biography of Wil- 
liam Green. 

It is patent, nevertheless, as George Meany, AFL secretary-treas- 


urer, remarked in a recent public address, that "without the full and 
energetic support of our organized labor movement, neither America 
nor the labor organizations of other countries can halt— let alone smash 
—the nefarious Communist conspiracy for world domination by Soviet 

New Ties With Free Labor 

The time-tested consistency of the AFL in its refusal to affiliate 
with any world labor center which admits Communists or their stooges, 
paid off in moral dividends when in November, 1949, the British 
Trades Union Congress, the American CIO and several other free 
unions, after withdrawing from the World Federation of Trade Unions 
earlier that year, met in London and formed, together with the AFL, 
the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. The new 
world labor body, which admits no state-controlled unions, represented 
at its founding meeting 47 million workers from 50 countries. It set 
up international headquarters at Brussels, Belgium. 

The AFL delegates at the London conference included President 
William Green, Secretary-Treasurer George Meany, and five of its 
vice presidents— Matthew Woll, George M. Harrison, W. C. Doherty, 
David Dubinsky and Charles J. McGowan— as well as George P. De- 
laney, AFL international representative, and Irving Brown and Henry 
Rutz, AFL representatives in Europe. In addressing the delegates at 
the end of the conference, President Green, among other things, said: 
"We have learned out of our war experience, revolution and counter- 
revolution that only the maximum cooperation of the forces devoted 
to human freedom and social and economic justice can preserve liberty, 
freedom and justice. That is why we want a strong, militant, fighting 
international confederation o£ free trade unions. We are ready to give 
our all to such a movement. But the greatest contribution American 
labor can make to this movement is in the moral and spiritual sense 
rather than in the material. Our undying hatred of every form of slav- 
ery and despotism is the greatest contribution we can make. Our un- 


stinting devotion to human freedom and social justice is a most price- 
less asset of international labor solidarity." 

The second World Congress of the ICFTU was held early in July, 
1951, in Milan, Italy. It was attended by delegates from 55 countries 
representing 52^4 million workers. Since that Congress, the Australian 
Council of Trade Unions and several other national groups have been 
accepted for membership and in 1952 the ICFTU had a combined 
membership of 53i/£ million. 

ICFTU Comes to Latin America 

Another highly significant phase of AFL world labor relations 
touched upon with considerable elation by President Green is coopera- 
tion with the free labor movements in Latin America. He stressed espe- 
cially Secretary Meany's leadership and initiative in this field of action. 
The fight for free trade unionism in Latin America is also a fight for 
elementary civil rights and the conflict is made even harder by the 
unholy combination of Communists and Peronist totalitarians who are 
seeking to block free trade unionism not only in Argentina but 
throughout South America, 

The hard work of the past half-dozen years, however, is yielding 
results. Only a short time ago the pro-Communist labor padrone, Lom- 
bardo Toledano, was regarded as the undisputed dictator of Latin 
American workers. Today his power is at a vanishing point. His erst- 
while well-oiled machine is grinding to a stop in most countries in 
Latin America, and this Communist decline has come chiefly through 
the driving initiative of the AFL which in January, 1 95 1 , succeeded in 
founding an Inter-American Regional Organization of the ICFTU. 
This regional body embraces not only the AFL but the CIO and the 
two central labor bodies of Canada. Serafino Romualdi, who has served 
indefatigably for the past ten years as the AFL's Latin American field 
representative, contributed substantially toward the formation of this 
regional free labor center. 

Secretary Meany, who took a leading part in the formation of the 
OR1T, as the regional Latin American group is better known, in de- 


scribing its aims, said: "Our main task all these years has been to help 
the workers of our sister American Republics in their struggles to 
secure a higher standard of living and to defend freedom of trade union 
organization." He referred to the attempts of some Peronista agents to 
sneak into the Regional Organization in the following words: "The 
henchmen of the Argentine dictator were even so bold as to make an 
open attempt to join our fold. But we place principles above power 
politics and we kept these totalitarian termites out of our all- American 
house of labor." 

AFL's "Foreign Office" at Work 

As AFL contacts with free labor abroad began to widen it became 
apparent that a special committee to consolidate this activity was im- 
perative. Responding to this need, the International Labor Relations 
Committee was formed in 1950, under the chairmanship of Matthew 
Woll, with William Green, George Meany, George M. Harrison, 
David Dubinsky, John P. Frey, A. E. Lyon, William J. McSorley and 
Lee W. Minton as members, and Florence Thome as secretary. 

Pledging the AFL primarily as a force for world peace, the Interna- 
tional Labor Relations Committee has forged ahead with an active pro- 
gram for a democratic foreign policy, for help toward full recovery of 
democratic Europe, and, above all, for the mobilization of all free labor 
forces into a positive and constructive alignment to resist and even- 
tually to eliminate the Moscow-ruled World Federation of Trade 
Unions still masquerading as a trade union world labor center. 

Even before World War II, when Nazi and Fascist violence was 
shaping up as a barbaric manhunt bent on liquidating every leader of 
labor and exponent of democracy, Labor's League for Human Rights, 
launched by Matthew Woll, was carrying out a series of nationwide 
drives to help trade union underground fighters to escape the deadly 
claws of totalitarian tyranny. During the war years, the League con- 
tinued its remarkable rescue work in cooperation with other free labor 
agencies, in addition to supplying funds and food to individuals and 


groups of labor men and women abroad who kept on fighting coura- 
geously against the Black, Brown and Red fiends. 

AFL's "Voice" Abroad 

Another arm of the AFL's trade union world campaign has been the 
Free Trade Union Committee, a publishing agency set up on the initia- 
tive of Matthew Woll some five years ago. Its monthly publication, 
"The International Free Trade Union News," has appeared in four 
languages— English, French, German and Italian. Scores of thousands 
of this journal have reached regularly trade union activists everywhere, 
some copies of the "News" being smuggled even into the Kremlin's 
satellite countries. The "News" actually has become the AFL's "voice" 
in trade union affairs to the world beyond America's borders. The 
Free Trade Union Committee has also published a number of pam- 
phlets and booklets dealing in an informative way with current in- 
ternational labor problems. 

In discussing, with obvious pride, the far-flung activities of the 
AFL's "foreign office," President Green has recently observed: "Prob- 
ably the most important task our Federation has been tackling in this 
field of international relations is the maintenance on a permanent basis 
of AFL representatives and bureaus abroad. In addition to our chief 
international representative, George P. Delaney, we have two special 
men in Western Europe, and we have one in India. We also have a bu- 
reau in Formosa from where we are in touch with the growing resist- 
ance movement on the Chinese mainland. We are also about to estab- 
lish two other bureaus to help free labor in the Far East. Our 'dip- 
lomatic corps' has its work cut out for it. Their task is to keep in close 
touch with labor in their vast areas, to go wherever and whenever duty 
calls— in Europe, Asia, the Near or the Far East to promote trade union 
democracy and to cancel out Communist infiltration in labor. 

"There's not an important labor convention in the free world 
where the AFL voice is not heard, through our spokesmen, and these 
voices are welcome and appreciated. Recently, we have helped to estab- 
lish in Paris the 'International Free Trade Union Center-in-Exile' 


and are obtaining many contacts with resistance movements behind the 
Iron Curtain. 

"Entering New Era" 

"We have entered a new era in domestic and world affairs, and 
the direction which the trade union and political labor movements 
take in the years immediately ahead of us in this battle of ideas will 
determine in a large measure which way Europe will go in the ensuing 
struggle between democracy and dictatorship. 

"This, however, is not all the work we are doing in the interna- 
tional field, though it may not strictly relate to labor. We have been 
for a number of years now in the United Nations, in an advisory ca- 
pacity on one of its most important councils, the UNESCO. We, of the 
AFL, I may say it with some pride, took the initiative in proposing the 
draft for a 'Bill of Human Rights' which later became a model for the 
International Bill of Rights adopted by the United Nations. And it 
was our consultants who raised the burning issue of slave labor in Rus- 
sia's 'corrective' camps. We have thus helped to expose the slave na- 
ture of a large part of the Soviet economy, a charge that these so-called 
champions of labor have not been able to refute even in part. 

"And when the Communists of France and Italy conspired to 
sabotage the delivery of American arms to the North Atlantic Pact na- 
tions on Moscow's orders, it was the assistance given by the AFL to 
democratic labor that nipped that Red plot and kept Europe's ports 
free for the shipments of defense arms. 

"And the support which our great membership has given to this 
program of help to free labor on every continent— whether it be Ger- 
many, China, Israel, Finland, India, Italy or Japan— has been undi- 
vided and intense. Anyone who has visited our conventions in recent 
years and watched the deep interest with which our delegates receive 
the annual reports of the Committee on International Labor Relations 
can easily convince himself of this. 

"And it seems to me in vain to debate, at this day, the relative im- 
portance of Asia and Europe to the strategy of opposition to Commu- 


nism. We cannot afford the luxury of a choice between the two. Both 
are vital and all the weapons we can muster are needed. The price is 
high, but no price is too high for the preservation of human liberty 
and world peace," President Green summed up. 

Aiding Jewish Nazi Victims 

The Jewish Labor Committee, a group representing trade unions 
and fraternal labor organizations with close to a half-million members, 
was formed through the initiative of the late B. Charney Vladeck, 
famed labor and civic leader, shortly after the Nazis came to power in 
Germany in 1933. Hitler's first step was to destroy the German labor 
movement and to imprison or liquidate its leaders. Along with this 
drive against organized labor, the Nazis launched a genocide campaign 
against Jews. 

The primary aim of the Jewish Labor Committee at the time of 
its formation was to help the victims of Nazism and Fascism, trade 
unionists as well as the racial victims of the Nazis, the Jews. In the years 
that followed the Jewish Labor Committee supported every endeavor 
to fight Nazism— the underground movement in Germany and the re- 
sistance and rescue forces in France under the Nazi occupation. It ex- 
tended a helping hand to the resistance groups in Poland and occupied 
Norway. In the postwar years, the Jewish Labor Committee combined 
a program of rehabilitation of the shattered remnants of the Jewish 
people in Europe with an energetic campaign of combating bigotry and 
intolerance at home. In this it has received magnificent support from 
the trade unions, with AFL President William Green setting the pace. 

President Green's interest in the rescue work and the anti-bigotry 
crusades of the Jewish Labor Committee goes back to 1940 when his 
direct personal appeal to Secretary of State Cordell Hull resulted in 
the rescue of some 1,500 European labor leaders from the claws of Hit- 
ler and Stalin. The rescued men and women were settled in the free 
lands of Europe and in the Western Hemisphere. During the terrible 
years of 1941—43, when Hitler's bloody minions were slaughtering mil- 
lions of non-combatant Jews and other helpless minorities, William 


Green joined the frantic efforts of the Jewish Labor Committee to urge 
the State Department and the chancelleries in the remaining free lands 
of Europe to warn the Nazis that they would be held individually re- 
sponsible for genocidal crimes. Unfortunately, what at that time ap- 
peared as exigencies of war strategy and divided counsels among Euro- 
pean leaders stood in the way of energetic remonstrations and many 
more millions perished. 

In Anti-Bigotry Drive 

In 1946, when the Jewish Labor Committee launched a drive 
against racial discrimination and religious bigotry on domestic levels, 
President Green called upon all AFL unions to cooperate in this cam- 
paign. In the years that followed every AFL convention adopted resolu- 
tions in favor of the anti-bigotry movement. At the San Francisco con- 
vention in 1947, the Jewish Labor Committee together with the Negro 
Labor Committee, the Catholic Interracial Council and the Presby- 
terian Institute of Industrial Relations, presented a bronze plaque to 
William Green for "his courageous battle for people's rights in the end- 
less crusade for freedom of conscience and the dignity of man." Charles 
S. Zimmerman and A. Philip Randolph made the presentation. 

William Green's concern with economic opportunity for workers 
of all racial or national strains has mounted with the years. He kept 
hammering at the individual state federations for support of national 
and state fair employment practices commissions. On April 30, 1949, 
he appeared as principal speaker at a civil rights conference sponsored 
by the Chicago Federation of Labor which was attended by some 700 
delegates from all AFL locals in that city. "From its very inception," 
President Green told the Chicago unionists, "the AFL pledged itself 
to combat racial and religious prejudice and man's inhumanity to 
man. ... In a broad sense, intolerance must be eradicated in America 
as a measure of national safety and in defense of our free democratic 
institutions. Who are those on the other side of this fight? Who are 
those who are making capital out of intolerance? Who are those who 


resist so bitterly the extension of civil rights to all American citizens? 
They are the same filibusterers, the same reactionaries and the same 
die-hard obstructionists who have teamed up immemorially against the 
underprivileged, against organized labor and against all economic, 
social and political progress." 

"His Brother's Keeper" 

Culminating tribute to William Green for a decade of unceasing 
work in behalf of millions of human beings battered by storms of hate, 
reaction and persecution was paid him at a testimonial "Assembly" at 
the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City on the afternoon of October 28, 
1951, under the auspices of the Jewish Labor Committee at which 
more than 2,000 labor and community leaders watched the unveiling 
of a bronze bust of the AFL's president. George Meany, Secretary- 
Treasurer of the AFL, spoke of William Green as "one who has done 
more than any other living American to promote the humanitarian 
causes of the Jewish Labor Committee and has given service 'far be- 
yond the call of duty' to rescue the oppressed and the persecuted." 

Sharing with Meany the speakers' platform were U. S. Vice Presi- 
dent Alben W. Barkley, Secretary of Labor Maurice J. Tobin, and 
David Dubinsky, president of the ILGWU. In responding to the high 
tribute paid him, President Green, with characteristic humility, re- 
marked: "No service has ever afforded me greater satisfaction than this 
work which I, together with my friends of the Jewish Labor Committee, 
have engaged in in the past. ... It might perhaps be easier and less tax- 
ing for American trade unionists to wash their hands of the misfortunes 
of those in other lands and to say, as some other groups in the commu- 
nity appear to be saying-' Am I my brother's keeper?' But to do so 
would be to break faith with those basic principles which lie at the very 
foundation of the trade union movement, which tell us that we are in- 
deed our brother's keeper and that so long as our brothers are in chains, 
we are bound with them. Our own freedom will never be safe as long as 
others are enslaved." 


Firm on Fascism 

When William Green assumed the presidency of the AFL in the 
end of 1924, Italy was already fast in the grip of Fascism with Benito 
Mussolini riding roughshod with his Blackshirts over the vanishing 
liberties of the Italian people. In the United States, however, workers 
of Italian descent were proceeding to join by the thousand labor unions 
—in the construction trades, in the garment industry, in textiles and 
various other occupations— and reaping the benefits of free, organized 

Some two years before, Green had made his first contact with 
organized Italian workers in this country when as secretary-treasurer of 
the United Mine Workers, he addressed the young Italian Dressmakers 
Union, Local 89, ILGWU, seeking support for his miners engaged at 
that time in a prolonged and bitter strike. The Italian dressmakers re- 
sponded warmly to his appeal. 

A rugged opponent of autocracy in any hue or form, William 
Green took a firm stand against Fascism from its very inception sharply 
condemning Mussolini's regime in a widely quoted public statement 
in which he compared the "menacing influences and sordid infiltration- 
is t practices sponsored in our country by Red Russia and Black Italy." 
He castigated Mussolini for his complicity in the murder of the bril- 
liant leader of social democracy in the Italian parliament, Giacomo 
Matteoti, by a Fascist gang in June 1924. 

And when in September 1924, groups o£ democrats, liberals and 
laborites of Italian descent formed an "Anti-Fascist Alliance," Green 
addressed its first assembly and prophetically declared: "I am certain 
that the Italian workers now deprived of their freedom will continue 
to fight until they will regain what they have lost." In the name of the 
Federation, he pledged that its membership "will always be at your side 
to help chase Fascism away from the face of the earth." 

That same year, when the AFL met in convention in Detroit, 
Green told the delegates how deeply he had been impressed by the sin- 
cerity and "fighting quality" of the Anti-Fascist Alliance's congress and 


the convention approved a strong resolution against Fascism and the 
Mussolini rule in Italy. From then on, the Italian anti-Fascist elements 
felt confident that they had the full weight of America's labor move- 
ment on their side. 

All-Out Aid for Italy's Labor 

President Green's support and the Federation's friendship for the 
anti-Fascist cause spiraled after Mussolini, at Hitler's behest, declared 
war on America a few days after Pearl Harbor. The Italian-American 
Labor Council, a body composed exclusively of trade unions with Ital- 
ian-speaking memberships and presided over by Luigi Antonini, 
ILGWU first vice president, came into being both as a challenge to 
Mussolini's arrogance and as the true voice of organized Italian labor 
in this country. One of the Council's first acts, which at once received 
the full support of President Green and of the AFL, was a move to 
exempt Italian non-citizens residing here from the enemy alien 
category in which they found themselves as a consequence of Musso- 
lini's war. This move proved successful when Attorney General Francis 
Biddle granted the Council's request on Columbus Day 1942. This 
action scored a significant victory against Fascism in this country. 

Green did not stop at this point in aiding Italian labor-democratic 
forces to destroy the Fascist regime. During the war he joined in a 
number of short-wave broadcasts to Italian workers across the ocean 
urging civil disobedience against the Fascist dictator. In the spring of 
1943, when the Mussolini regime fell apart and Italy's unconditional 
surrender was announced, William Green in a public statement de- 
clared, "Italy's surrender marks the beginning of the collapse of the 
Axis. . . . The Italian people have not lost, they have gained, they have 
won freedom from the yoke of Fascism and the opportunity to govern 
themselves in the future as a free and democratic country." Shortly 
thereafter, the AFL president designated Luigi Antonini as the Fed- 
eration's representative on a joint delegation with the British Trades 
Union Congress to go to Italy after the liberation of Rome and help in 
the rebuilding of an Italian free trade union movement. 


A Just Peace to New Italy 

In the years that followed, William Green has supported the Ital- 
ian-American Labor Council in all efforts to assure adequate American 
relief to liberated Italy; to have Italy recognized as a co-belligerent, and 
to press for a just peace for a new Italy. When in 1946 Luigi Antonini 
went to the Paris Peace Conference to seek in the name of the Italian- 
American Labor Council a just peace for Italy, William Green author- 
ized him to speak also on behalf of the AFL. Italy's admission to the 
United Nations, which has been strongly favored by the AFL since the 
United Nations was formed in 1945, has been consistently thwarted by 
Soviet vetoes in the Security Council. During the hotly contested Ital- 
ian elections in the spring of 1948, William Green made several ap- 
peals to the Italian voters in behalf of democracy which were radioed 
in Italian across the Atlantic. 

Green was given the "Four Freedoms" award by the Italian- 
American Labor Council at its tenth anniversary fete in December 
1951. Previous recipients of this award were the late President Frank- 
lin D. Roosevelt, former Attorney General Francis Biddle, and Gen- 
eral Mark W. Clark. The award to President Green read in part: "In 
appreciation and recognition of his fearless and unceasing struggle 
against national and racial discrimination, poverty, dictatorship and 
war . . . and magnificent services in enabling American democracy to 
meet its new responsibilities of world leadership in the fight for free- 
dom and peace." 

Champions Israeli Labor 

On January 11, 1951, 1,500 men and women prominent in the 
world of labor and leaders in the Greater New York Jewish community 
assembled to do honor to William Green in recognition of his lifelong 
interest in the Histadrut— the Israeli Labor Federation— and his un- 
broken concern with the destiny and independence of the young Jew- 
ish State of Israel still surrounded by a ring of mortal enemies. The 
meeting was arranged by the American Trade Union Council in sup- 
port of the Histadrut. 


In responding to the many speeches which hailed his champion- 
ship of Jewish organized labor in Israel, William Green drew a 
parallel between "the aims and ideals of the AFL and those who gave 
their strength, energy and even their lives that Israel may live as more 
than a dream" and found them identical. "Histadrut," he declared, 
"has been the mainstay of the entire society of Israel." He pointed to 
the economic and social attainments of the Histadrut— the 8-hour day, 
employment through its own labor exchanges, seniority, family allow- 
ances, sick leave and vacations with pay, and social insurance. His- 
tadrut, he said, has developed its own system of schools to improve the 
level of education. In a country with little investment capital, Hista- 
drut has established cooperative industries to help maintain a high rate 
of employment. Most important of all, President Green said, was the 
illuminating fact that all of this has been achieved without yielding to 
temptations to abandon the principles of liberty, democracy and 
equality and resort to authoritarian methods— even in the face of crisis 
and hunger. 

35 Years of Friendship 

The following paragraphs are from the pen of Harry Lang, a vet- 
eran journalist who knew well Samuel Gompers and has been for many 
years a friend of William Green: 

"In 1917 Green was a member of the sub-committee of the 
AFL's Executive Council to consider the report of the American 
Alliance for Labor and Democracy on President Wilson's foreign 
policy. In this report there was mention of the Balfour Declaration 
for a Jewish national home in Palestine. He heard the views of the 
State Department. The sub-committee recommended the approval 
of the Balfour Declaration, underscoring 'the legitimate rights of 
the Jewish people to a homeland in Palestine/ and urged the 
United States to advocate this at the peace conferences. The Execu- 
tive Council approved the report and the AFL convention rati- 
fied it. 

"Early in 1919, Green went with the American labor delega- 
tion to Europe to attempt to set up a trade union international. 


Upon his return to the United States, Green fought the isolationist 
anti-Wilson forces and helped to strengthen the international out- 
look of the AFL. 

"In 1928, President Green sent a memorandum to President 
Coolidge with a resolution adopted at the AFL convention endors- 
ing the Jewish labor movement in Palestine, Histadrut. In 1930 he 
sent a message to a great protest demonstration in New York against 
the Passfield White Paper which virtually annulled the Balfour 

"The upheavals of the 1930s came along. President Green be- 
came a tireless anti-Nazi fighter. He fought against the diplomatic 
recognition of the Soviet regime. He did succeed in convincing 
Roosevelt to join the International Labor Office, and he helped 
lead the AFL back into the International Federation of Trade 
Unions— on the AFL's own terms. 

"William Green welcomed the British plan to partition Pal- 
estine into Jewish and Arab states, and to demonstrate his warmest 
sympathy with Jewish aspirations he became a co-sponsor of the 
Jewish settlement in Galilee named in honor of the great French 
socialist statesman Leon Blum. 

"The Second World War came, and soon William Green be- 
came the 'ambassador' of peoples in exile, of wandering labor peo- 
ple, of uprooted social democrats persecuted by Nazis or Commu- 
nists and often by both diabolical partners. Green took a leading 
part in opening Stalin's international scandal, the criminal execu- 
tion of the two Jewish labor leaders of Poland. Henryk Erlich and 
Victor Alter. And there came to him the underground of the Ha- 
ganah, who rescued Jews from the shambles of Europe and brought 
them to Palestine through Italy and France. 

"In the days of illegal immigration into Palestine, William 
Careen did not rest. His special affection for the labor movement in 
the State of Israel has been expressed on innumerable occasions. 
During the United Nations debate on the future of Palestine, he 
voiced the support of Jewish claims for nationhood as a free and 
equal member of the family of nations." 

These flash-like, penetrating observations by Harry Lang cast a 
vivid light on the international labor background of William Green 
who has managed to give so much of himself to the fierce and demand- 


ing causes which have crowded the world arena over the past thirty-five 

The wonder of it is that he really had been able to do it, and do it 
so well. For, as George Meany described it on a recent occasion: "Let 
me point out that Bill Green has a full-time job as president of the 
AFL. When I say 'full time' I am understating the facts. Business mat- 
ters and conferences have a way of overtaking him even at breakfast, 
luncheon and dinner— and after dinner as well. Yet, he has always 
found time to do the many extra jobs which his mind and heart com- 
manded him to do." 

Aid to "City of Hope" 

Organized labor's accelerated interest in community affairs in the 
past dozen years, a tendency which has won practically unanimous sup- 
port from every international union affiliated with the AFL, got its 
strongest spurt during the war years when the emotional surge radiat- 
ing from the global struggle and repeated calls for relief for various 
causes "till it hurt" swept the land. 

William Green took the lead in responding to these patriotic and 
humanitarian wartime appeals. But above and beyond the war needs 
affecting fighting men and returning veterans, President Green saw 
also the need of combating the illnesses which daily affect wage-earners 
and low-income people in particular, his own folks, so to say. He 
watched the inroads which tuberculosis and, of late years, cancer had 
been making among workpeople who cannot afford the prohibitive 
costs of hospitalization and he promptly enlisted in behalf of organized 
help to these victims. 

His pet philanthropy shortly became the "City of Hope," a great 
medical center located in the hills outside Los Angeles, started in 1912 
as a tuberculosis sanatorium, chiefly for trade unionists and their fami- 
lies. Green was attracted to the "City of Hope" because it practiced 
what its motto, phrased in the words of the immortal Louis Pasteur, 
preached: "We do not ask of an unfortunate, what country do you 


come from or what is your religion? We say to him: you suffer, that's 
enough. You belong to us; we shall make you well." 

Beginning with the ILGWU in 1920, which donated money for the 
construction of a wing and of a library, union wings were endowed at 
the "City of Hope" by the Bakery and Confectionery Workers, the 
Hatters and Millinery International Union and, currently, the Amal- 
gamated Meat Cutters and the Hotel and Restaurant Employees' 
Union are putting up special buildings at the "City of Hope" for their 
members. For the past five years, the "City of Hope" has had cooperat- 
ing with it a National Labor Council of which William Green is hon- 
orary chairman. 

For a Gompers Wing 

Over the past three decades, AFL unions alone have contributed 
more than $1,000,000 to the "City of Hope." On organized labor's ini- 
tiative, combined labor-management support has also been encouraged 
for this unique hospital which depends entirely upon voluntary contri- 
butions. In the last few years, several major AFL unions, including the 
Teamsters and the Machinists, have been showing interest in long-term 
hospitalization needs for tubercular patients at the "City of Hope." 

William Green paid a special visit last year, after the close of the 
1951 AFL convention in San Francisco, to the great medical center in 
Los Angeles. Upon his return to Washington, he enlisted the help of 
the Executive Council and of Secretary-Treasurer George Meany for 
the erection of a Samuel Gompers memorial wing at the "City of 
Hope." In May, 1952, the "City of Hope's" National Labor Council 
tendered a testimonial dinner to George Meany in "evidence of his 
awareness of the role this hospital is playing as a medical fraternal ally 
in labor's efforts to demand equal facilities for the sick, despite finan- 
cial inability to pay." 

Salvaging Ex-TB Victims 

One other non-sectarian institution serving the needs of men and 
women of low-income groups, largely wage-earners who had been 


stricken with tuberculosis and were being re-trained after cure in vari- 
ous skills for self-subsistence, attracted the attention of top AFL offi- 
cers, including President William Green, Secretary-Treasurer George 
Meany and Vice President Matthew Woll. 

It is the Ex-Patients' Tubercular Home of Denver, Colo., catering 
to the needs of discharged TB patients from Colorado sanatoria and 
seeking for them occupational outlets and adjustments for normal liv- 
ing. In most instances, these ex-patients leave the hospitals still badly 
in need of complete recuperation and without visible means of support. 
The Denver Ex-Patients' Home has engaged in this rehabilitation 
work with exceptional success for the past 44 years. 

It was only natural that the Denver Ex-Patients' Home, most of 
whose inmates are workers, should turn for help to organized labor and 
fraternal labor societies. Ten years ago, an advisory committee consist- 
ing of leading trade unionists was formed to accelerate moral and finan- 
cial support for this TB rehabilitation center. President Green, in urg- 
ing support for the Denver Ex-Patients' Home, stressed the point that 
it was catering to all TB victims on the way to recovery, regardless of 
creed or nationality, and offering them free food, shelter, medical 
treatment and the kindest care and guidance for an unlimited period 
of time. 

Portrait — and Parallel 

Any attempt to assess the stature of William Green on the broad 
canvas of American labor history invariably conjures up a comparison 
with his predecessor, Samuel Gompers, if only for the mere reason that 
since its formation, back in 1881, the AFL really has had but two 


Paralleling the two Federation presidents on the basis of historic 
sum-ups or concrete balances is not an easy matter. Both Samuel Gom- 
pers and William Green had similar humble beginnings-both were 
born and raised in environments of hard toil, which sent them in their 
early teens to work for a pittance— Sam Gompers as a tobacco stripper 
and, later, as a cigarmaker, and young Bill Green as a water boy for a 


railroad gang and, at sixteen, as a helper to his father in a soft coal 
mine. Both of them physically rugged and with but a smattering of 
schooling, they had early in their youth become avid readers during 
their few leisure hours. 

The slums of London and of New York's East Side and the glum, 
grimy small Ohio coal town were two worlds apart in last century's 
midway years, but the struggles and yearnings of the folks who lived 
there and called it "home" differed little. And the fierce, relentless faith 
in the possibility of winning for his fellow workingmen a little more 
security and a little better life which drove on young Sam Gompers to 
fight for a cigarmakers' union and later led him across many battles to 
found the modern American labor movement, has served also as the 
mainspring for William Green's utter dedication to unionism and 
sharpened his gifts for leadership as the ideal successor to Samuel 

A Grand Welfare Program 

Doubtless, there are many and substantial differences between 
William Green and Samuel Gompers, personality distinctions which 
invoke a variety of specific spiritual and mental endowments, though 
both stand four-square on the fundamentals of labor economics as the 
cornerstone of trade unionism. Still, while Gompers visualized social 
and political implementation as a mere accessory in the struggle for the 
improvement of labor's well-being— an accessory often to be treated 
with suspicion as a factor likely to impair the potency and freedom of 
trade unions, William Green, though a staunch trade unionist first and 
last, has ranged far beyond the economic milieu in search for endowing 
the labor movement with greater voltage. William Green has not hesi- 
tated to reach out of the wage-hour limits to set a fast pace in the fight 
for raising standards of living for America's wage-earners through 
labor legislation. To William Green social security laws, wage-hour 
enactments, elimination of racial and religious discrimination in job- 
getting as well as in other civil opportunities through state and national 
legislation have become part of labor's daily chores. 


"Co-Existence" Is "Voluntarism" 

His critics, many of them rank detractors-and they have ranged 
all the way from the extreme right in politics and industry to the ex- 
treme left, with a sprinkling of the "intelligentsia" forever sighing for 
the emergence of a "strong" man on the labor arena among them— have 
time and again tried to paint William Green as a docile executive who 
has left no marked imprint on the labor history or policies of his time. 
That this is willful myopia need hardly be emphasized. It is true, of 
course, that William Green, like Samuel Gompers before him, has 
never paraded up and down the national scene as a labor "czar," nor 
has he ever attempted to override the will of his associates when he 
found himself in a minority. "Voluntarism," the principle of organiza- 
tional co-existence which Samuel Gompers had laid down as his own 
credo and to which he adhered as chief executive of the union he 
founded, has remained the basic principle of union government in the 
AFL in relation to his fellow associates on the Executive Council 
throughout William Green's presidency. 

The striking fact remains that William Green has been chosen to 
lead the Federation for 28 years without a contest, without even serious 
opposition, despite the fact that he actually has had no major union 
claiming him as its "favorite son." When first selected by the Executive 
Council to fill the interim period as president shortly after Gompers 
died after the 1924 convention, the newspapers gave wide currency to 
rumors that Green's elevation was but a temporary shift arranged by 
John L. Lewis, so that he might take it away later. This canard soon 
vanished as year after year, even after the United Mine Workers had 
been pulled out of the AFL, the Coshocton miner continued to be re- 
elected to the presidency. 

"For the Littlest as for the Biggest" 

Having no special axes to grind and not personally disposed to 
reach out for extra-curricular power, William Green continued to en- 
hance his prestige with the years as a leader who is as considerate of the 



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By William Green 

(Below are reproduced the essential parts of a chapter from. William Green's 
book, "LABOR AND DEMOCRACY," which appeared in 1939 and was pub- 
lished by the Princeton University Press. Today this book is a collector's item and 
can be found only in a few of the largest public and university libraries. We re- 
print it, with grateful acknowledgment to the publishers, because it basically pre- 
sents President Green's credo with regard to American trade unionism and its in- 
severability from the mainstreams of the country's life and its impacts on the 
future of democratic society, at home and abroad. Though written some 13 years 
ago, on the very eve of World War II, when, in the words of William Green, 
"great fear again clutched the world/' its diagnoses, conclusions and "command- 
ments" sound as timely and as relevant today as in 1939. Like then, fear of ex- 
panding totalitarian aggression— Red imperialism instead of Brown barbarism— 
grips the world and shapes its thought and action.— Editor) 

AGAIN a great fear clutches the world. "What we had hailed in two 
ta great countries of Europe as revolutions for democracy have 
turned into revolutions destructive of our old civilizations. Two coun- 
tries in the grip of power politics have overthrown the old order within 
their own territory. They have repudiated old standards of ethics, over- 
thrown religion, and wrecked a social order that had evolved through 
centuries of ideals and through countless struggles to realize them. 
Freedom is no longer the ideal of the state or the ideal of revolution; 
power, compulsion, regimentation are the new political and social pro- 
cedures. The citizens and the resources of a nation are mobilized in ac- 
cord with plans for national aggrandizement, terror, persecution, and 
perversion of technical progress to purposes of destruction that fore- 
shadow the decline and demoralization of the nations. 


Democracies, with their belief in private property and freedom 
for the individual, have founded a social order on principles of integrity 
and mutual good faith that rest upon respect for ethical standards. 
Democracies have sought progress through assuring constantly broaden- 
ing groups the right to returns on the product of their labor. Our re- 
lations with our fellow men rest upon observance of accepted standards 
of behavior. The moment principles are renounced there is no guide for 
human relations. The chaos of savagery displaces civilization. Now these 
revolutions have overrun national barriers. The answer of democracy 
must represent coordinated policy and authority. 

THE FUTURE of democracy on all continents as well as here in the 
United States lies largely in the hands of labor. Wage earners and 
their families constitute the great majority of the people. It is primarily 
the workers and the other under-privileged who gain new opportunity 
with each forward step in establishing for every human being real op- 
portunity for his progress in all the relationships of our common life. 

Wage earners are helpless without the opportunity for progress 
which democracy provides. We want to see an end of starvation on this 
earth— whether starvation for food or for the opportunity of living a 
good life. This is our special interest. Democracy is not confined to the 
political or economic fields; it is a way of living applied to the whole of 
existence. It implies principles of freedom that must continuously be 
applied to human relationships under changing conditions. Democracy 
does not bring the dead-levels of regimentation, but experience with 
democratic procedures develops discrimination and the realization that 
identical provisions for all do not necessarily result in equal opportu- 
nity for all. Democracy assures individual freedom. To work out the 
transition from a social structure that provides special privilege for 
those in position of power, to a social order providing equal opportu- 
nity for all, is something that challenges both our intelligence and our 
integrity of purpose. 

The totalitarian state denies the competence of democracy either 
to maintain efficient government or to plan and control its industries 


for the best service of society. Political chaos resulting from power pol- 
itics and the struggle for domain together with world-wide depression 
gave opportunity to set up dictatorships in Europe with absolute polit- 
ical and economic control. Unrestricted power facilitates action. 

DEMOCRACIES, because applying the principles of representation 
and consent of the governed, move slowly in crises, but they have 
the strength inherent of cooperation in applying decisions reached by 
democratic channels. In the long run voluntary cooperation outlives 
the rule of force. Representation and majority rule are inseparable from 
democracy. Countries reluctant to work out their destinies have turned 
to dictators as an escape from the obligations of democracy. Instead of 
finding peaceful solutions for the political and economic problems of 
their countries, dictators relied on force and built up huge military re- 
serves. As was inevitable, again within the span of twenty-five years 
Europe is plunged into the horrors of modern warfare and the peace of 
the world is threatened. The progress toward world democracy that we 
hoped for through the Versailles Treaty, which ended a war fought for 
democracy, was blocked by mistakes of the Treaty and the failure of 
the League of Nations to function in the spirit of democracy. It was 
hampered by the failure of some of the democracies to participate. 

As labor in the United States again faces international problems 
and situations similar to those of the World War, we realize that de- 
mocracy cannot be gained on the battlefield. Democracy gains opportu- 
nity only through agreements for cooperation established at conference 
tables, and achieves reality in proportion as democratic principles con- 
trol our thoughts and actions. Labor in the United States is not a sect 
or a class but a cross-section of our nation, sharing in national ideals 
but with a special passion for democracy born of our struggle to extend 
its application within our daily living. Absence of democratic oppor- 
tunity has meant to us absence of economic security, denial of civil lib- 
erties, denial of safeguards for body and health in the workshops, 
meager provisions for our families and dependents. 


WHETHER in peace or in war, the major obligation we have as a 
people is to maintain principles of democracy within our own 
boundaries in order that justice may result from all of our dealings and 
that all may have that freedom of living that is essential to personal dig- 
nity. We scarcely realize the possibilities of democracy, and in practice 
we still deny to many equal opportunity for progress. But our vision of 
what democracy offers to human beings is what binds us to our govern- 
ment and makes us proud to be citizens. It is this vision that makes ours 
a land of opportunity. Without it we would be poor in spirit. 

Since the principles of democracy are our most precious heritage, 
established through a war for freedom and maintained even at the ex- 
pense of civil warfare, it is our stern obligation to see to it that they are 
not lost during our stewardship. The essential principles are few and 

First. The right of representation in order to have a voice in the 
determination of decisions affecting our welfare. The right of represen- 
tation relates not only to the political field but wherever welfare is con- 
cerned. For labor, it refers first of all to the work relationship. The right 
of representation is barren unless it rests on free choice. In totalitarian 
countries the first move for dictatorship is suppression of free unions. 
Forewarned that this is the key to maintenance of democracy in the 
United States, it is my responsibility and the responsibility of all organ- 
ized labor to keep our unions free, devoted to the ideals and practices 
of democracy within the union and in outside relations, truly represen- 
tative of the needs and ideals of those who work for wages and dedicated 
to the welfare of wage earners as citizens of a democracy. 

Second. Employer-employee or work relations should be defined in 
a work contract stipulating terms and conditions of work and machinery 
for adjusting differences arising under the contract. Such contracts must 
be negotiated by representatives of the parties concerned. This prin- 
ciple should be applied whether employment is in private or public in- 
dustry—or whether industry is under a peace or war economy. 

Third. The functional elements in an industry are finance, man- 
agement, production and sales to consumers. When functional agencies 


or boards are constituted for control purposes, such as the War Re- 
sources Board, all of these functional elements should have representa- 
tion on that agency. Labor, which constitutes the operating staff of an 
industry, is also the most important resource of the nation and is en- 
titled to representation under both considerations. It is self-evident that 
whenever a democratic government sets up an agency to deal with a 
problem, the welfare of its citizens is its primary concern. Labor, or 
those citizens directly concerned with operating an industry, should 
always have adequate representation on all governmental control or 
policy-making agencies. 

Fourth. The strength of a nation, whether for constructive work 
or national defense, lies in the sureness with which it accords justice to 
all its people. The discrimination with which a democracy assures eco- 
nomic and personal justice within its own territory, is the measure of 
the power of the nation under emergencies. Whether for peace or war, 
we strengthen a nation when we remedy the causes of social and eco- 
nomic unrest. 

Fifth. Democracy must not use the controls of dictators to mould 
public opinion and action. Decisions upon education should be made 
locally, and control over dissemination of information should be in the 
hands of voluntary organizations. Society should insist upon fair play, 
honesty and respect for facts. 

THE AMERICAN Federation of Labor has earned the right to its 
acceptance as a tried American institution. Essentially democratic 
in spirit and in procedure, we have learned to look upon our interests 
and welfare as related to the interests and welfare of all others concerned 
in the same problems, and have sought progress through coordinated 

Over a period of six decades we have established principles of 
action and procedures that have established their usefulness by con- 
structive results. Through union organization and collective bargaining, 
we created the agencies for justice and progress in the economic field, 
thus laying a foundation for a democratic way of life in this and related 


fields. Through legislation and political action we have functioned as 
citizens of a democracy, utilizing the constitutional methods available 
to promote our welfare. We have sought opportunity to participate with 
other citizens, not over any individuals or groups. Through legislation 
we have attempted to gain opportunity for progress and basic standards 
of social security. Under all circumstances we have sought to keep open 
opportunity for change and progress and have opposed regimentation 
and arbitrary control. We have regarded ourselves as a part of a nation 
and have tried to coordinate our welfare with the whole of social prog- 

In the World War we served in the military forces and in the in- 
dustries necessary for military and civilian life. While we tried to assure 
democracy to those for whom we were primarily responsible, we inte- 
grated our activity with purposes of national welfare. To our wartime 
policies is due a considerable measure of credit for maintaining demo- 
cratic procedure even under war administration. 

IN PEAK peacetime industrial prosperity, though harassed with un- 
American plans to displace free trade unions, the American Federa- 
tion of Labor developed the procedures of union-management coopera- 
tion and proposed a partnership for labor in industries based upon the 
investment of their labor, skill and creative ability. Union-management 
cooperation enables labor to contribute more to management because 
mutuality of interests is accepted as the basis for cooperation. We made 
our contribution to efforts to set up industrial order through voluntary 

In the world depression that shattered the foundations of our in- 
dustrial structure, we maintained our union organization and co- 
operated with the government to work out social control of industry 
through legislation. Our insistence upon equal opportunity for labor 
has been a bulwark against Fascist or Communist tendencies. With the 
right to membership in unions of our choice assured by the government, 
we hope progressively to realize the rich possibilities of a democratic 
way of living. Our own organizations are only chains of human hands, 



(Ten years later, speaking at the concluding session of the founding Congress of the 
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions in London, England, on Dec. 
8, 1949, Pres. William Green had another occasion to state before a great assembly 
of free trade unionists from 53 countries representing nearly 50 million workers, 
in a concise and clear-cut form, some sharply revealing facts and observations 
bearing on American organized labor's expanding interest in free trade unionism 
the world over as a part of democracy's global effort to combat totalitarian 
tyranny and dictatorship.— Editor) 

It is slanderous to say that America has become rich as a result of 
the war. What we have attained has been gotten not through occupying 
or expropriating little or big countries or taking even one cent of rep- 
arations or one foot of soil from defeated countries. We have progressed 
solely by dint of hard, efficient, free labor in a free country blessed with 
great natural resources. In fact, in the last war, the American people 
paid a very high price in life and limb, in human casualties for our 
common victory. We also paid a colossal material price. We have used 
up in behalf of our common victory over .1400 billion worth of our 
national and natural wealth. 

We are determined to help win the peace for democracy, human 
welfare and dignity, just as decisively as we helped in winning the war. 
Through the Marshall Plan and other projects, our country has spent 
well over $60 billion in various undertakings to rescue from famine 
men, women and children in every part of the world, and in helping 
those nations— former foe and friend alike— that are free to help them- 
selves in reconstructing their economies. 


The average American has been contributing through taxes about 
|150 a year towards payment of this bill. We do not ask for thanks or 
crave gratitude. We do not propose to dictate the politics or economic 
forms of any recipient nation. We work and give and will give again 
and again because we realize that our privileged world position and 
our unswerving loyalty to the ideals of human freedom, decency and 
peace put new responsibilities upon us. 

. . . The American economy is anything but perfect. We must over- 
come the lingering evils of racialism. But we do have the right and the 
possibility to change and readjust. American labor has an increasing- 
right and mounting might to assure that these changes are for the better 
—for the economic and social well-being of the people. That and that 
alone is what makes our economy free. 

Different countries have different historical backgrounds and dif- 
ferent stages and trends of economic development. We are not trying to 
impose our economic forms on any nation. But we are just as firmly op- 
posed to anyone imposing economic forms on us. 

In an economic sense, the world is being integrated. No one coun- 
try can long stay prosperous in an impoverished world. ... By the same 
token, no prosperity can long continue in a world terrified and para- 
lyzed by the fear of war. We love and want peace. We seek and demand 
and work for international peace and security. Labor has been the tra- 
ditional champion of and fighter for the realization of this lofty objec- 
tive. But we must never forget one very important fact. Though it takes 
two to make and keep the peace, it takes only one to break the peace and 
plunge mankind into a conflagration. 

The basic ideals and interests of labor are the same throughout 
the world. However, in different countries, for various reasons, different 
tactics are employed by free labor to further and achieve these common 


The free trade unions of the world now face a world-wide totali- 
tarian conspiracy. This conspiracy has aimed to foist on the workers of 


all free countries a system of economic exploitation and political oppres- 
sion which would set labor back hundreds of years. It would rob workers 
of their human political and social rights. It would degrade their posi- 
tion as individual human beings. It would convert the free trade unions 
into company unions with the state as the sole employer. It would per- 
vert our unions into mere auxiliaries and departments of the totalitar- 
ian Communist parties with monopoly control of all political life. 

. . . There is no conflict between living idealism and political pro- 
gressive action. The high standards and conditions secured by American 
labor prove this ... I can see nothing more practical in the program of 
our new world organization than a frontal, aggressive fight against the 
enemies of world reconstruction, against all foes of human freedom, 
against all those who seek world domination through aggression, against 
all the opponents of orderly, peaceful progress. In this same spirit I can 
see nothing more idealistic than to assure, through practical everyday 
trade union action, the constant improvement of the working and liv- 
ing conditions of the laboring people of every nation, regardless of race, 
color or creed. . . . This is living international labor solidarity. 




"Billy" Green at 4. 


When You Vote, Mark Your Ballot Thus: 



(Second Term) 

J8th-J9th District 

At turn of century. 

Senate-minded miner. 

A candidate in quest of votes. 

Democratic Ticket 


A rising young citizen of Coshocton, Ohio. 



American Federation of Labor delegation lo the Paris Peace Conference, January- 
April, 1919. Sealed (1. to r.): first vice-president James Duncan, President Samuel 
Gompers. Standing (1. to r.): third vice-president Frank Duffy, fourth vice-presi- 
dent William Green, former third vice-president John R. Alpine. 


It was 1925, the first year of William Green's presidency. Members of the Execu- 
tive Council (1. to r.) (standing): Thomas A. Rickert, Matthew Woll, Jacob 
Fischer Seated (1. to r.): Frank Duffy, Secretary Frank Morrison, William Green. 


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Back in 1934, the early NRA days, labor and government teamwork proved ef- 
fective in hurdling many obstacles. Shown above are (1. lo r.): Ldwarcl i\ 
McGrady, Assistant Secretary of Labor; AFL President William Green; General 
Hugh S. Johnson, NRA administrator, and William Collins, AFL general or- 


On Labor Day, 1934, Fiorello LaGuardia (seated left), Mayor of New York, was 
principal speaker at a labor celebration at die "Century of Progress Exposition" 
at World's Fair. A special committee from the AFL, consisting of President 
William Green (seated right), John Fitzpatrick, president of the Chicago AFL 
(standing left), and Victor A. Olandcr, president of Illinois state AFL, came to 
invite the New York Mayor to address the great gathering. 















Textile workers reaffiliate. In a ceremony on May 10, 1939, before the statue of 
Samuel Gompers on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C., President Wil- 
liam Green returned AFL charter to the United Textile Workers Union. L. to r. 
are: Frank Morrison, AFL Secretary; Francis Gorman, United Textile Workers 
president, and William Green. 



So desirable yet still so far— Seen above arguing quietly over potentials of "labor 
peace" are President Green. AFL Vice President Daniel J. Tobin, and Allan S. 
Heywood, Organizational Director of the CIO, at a recent meeting. 

President Green, accompanied by Charles J. MacGowan, president of the Inter- 
national Brotherhood of Boilermakers, and James A. Brownlow, secretary- 
treasurer of the AFL Metal Trades Department, seen emerging from White 
House after consultation with President Truman on legislation aimed at rebuild- 

ing the American merchant marine. 


A "day in June" Pres. William Green is not likely to forget, when he returned 
40-year-old international charter to the Ladies' Garment Workers at that union's 
convention early in June, 1940, held in New York's famous Carnegie Hall. 



J ^^^^^IhniTranc-es Perkins as she steps up to 

ST^S&S Boston, Mass. 
the platform of the 1J« M^ fornier Ueutena nt- 

Jtotlom-Shewn with P«s William Gveen^™^ ^ ^ m 
Governor Charles Poletti, ^{^VeTofXf North Italy after.Mussohn, 
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There's a warm gleam in Pres. Green's eyes as he engages in conversation with 
young James B. Carey, CIO's secretary-treasurer, at great labor "Veto Day" rally 
summoned by organized labor at Madison Square Garden in New York City call- 
ing on Pres. Truman to veto the Taft-Hartley Act in the summer of 1947. 

Not a soul in the huge Civic Auditorium of San Francisco, where the AFL met 
in convention in October, 1947, had any premonition of an approaching tragedy 
when Joseph M. Padway (center), for many years general counsel of the AFL, 
began reading at one of the afternoon sessions to the delegates a brief "Explain- 
ing the Taft-Hartley Act." Before Padway was half through his address, he was 
stricken with a heart attack and died within a few minutes. William L. Hutche- 
son, president of the Carpenters' and Joiners' Brotherhood, is at the right. 


Led by Pres. William Green and W. C. Doherty, president of National Associa- 
tion of Letter Carriers (second from left), a group of union leaders call on the 
White House in July, 1949, to ask for a square deal for postal employees. 


Pres. Green weighs a point in a chat with Labor's League for Political Educa- 
tion's brain-trusters and field leaders Joseph D. Keenan (left) and Phil Hannah 
of Ohio, during the 1948 campaign. 

William Green and Paul Hoffman, former ECA Administrator, meet and greet 
at 1949 AFL convention in St. Paul, Minn. The delegates gave Hoffman a rousing 


Pies. Green is shown smiling happily, with Pat Gergen, Fiestabahia queen (at 
his left) and her maids of honor, at the San Diego Labor Day Jubilee. 1949. 


Chairman T. M. Arvey of the Cook County Democratic Committee (left) wel- 
comes Pres. William Green to Chicago where the Executive Council met in 
October, 1950. Reuben G. Soderstrom, president of Illinois State Federation ol 
Labor, in center. 

At 72nd annual convention of die New Jersey State Federation of Labor in 
Atlantic City, October, 1950, where Pres. Green headed the list of speakers. 
L tor' Vincent T. Murphy, New Jersey Federation's secretary-treasurer; former 
Under-Secretary of the Army, Archibald S. Alexander, Louis P. Marciante, N. J. 
federation president, and William Green. 


A dramatic moment occurred on March 1, 1951, when all organized labor, acting- 
through the then existing United Labor Policy Committee, voted to pull its 
representatives out of all defense mobilization agencies. L. to r. are: James B. 
Carey, CIO secretary-treasurer; AFL President William Green; Elmer Walker, 
secretary-treasurer, International Association of Machinists, and Art Lyons, secre- 
tary Railway Labor Executive Associates. 


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Assistant Secretary of Defense Anna Rosenberg seen with group of top labor 
representatives as subject of labor participation on terms ol equality in defense 
matters reached high point in 1951. Flanking her (right) is AFL President Wil- 
liam Green with CIO President Philip Murray on her left. 


1> S 'en 



James C. Petrillo, American Federation of Musicians' chieftain, who recently 
became a member of the AFL's Executive Council, emphasizes a point in a chat 
with President Green. 

It was back in the days when "Pins and Needles," the ILGWU Broadway hit revue, 
was packing 'em in the aisles. Pres. Green is observed watching audience response 
from a vantage point backstage while being briefed on dialogue nicks and notches 
by an "idle" member of the show's cast. 


The late wartime War Secretary Robert P. Patterson in a friendly exchange with 
Pres. Green, 

William Lee, Chicago Federation of Labor president, in confab with Pres. 
William Green at an AFL convention. 



This huge birthday cake, gift of the Bakery and Confectionery Workers' Interna- 
tional Union, was presented to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 25, 
1940. The President and AFL President William Green have a happy time 
around the cake in the White House. Around the base of each of the 58 candles 
is a facsimile of a check for 3100, presented to the National Infantile Paralysis 
Foundation by various local labor unions. 


Eleanor Roosevelt and Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins pose with AFL Presi- 
dent William Green at one of the gala occasions of the New Deal period. 


Top— "Voice of Labor" on the airwaves is topic of discussion between Pres. Wil- 
liam Green and Frank Edwards, commentator on AFL air program over Mutual 
network for several years past. 

Bottom— Pres. William Green in friendly chat with Governor A. B. Langlie of 
Washington State at the 1941 AFL Convention in Seattle, Washington. 


William Green, LL.D., flanked by Ohio's Governor Frank Lausche, holding parch- 
ment which initiated him into honorary fraternity of Kenyon College, Ohio. 


Top— Throughout the 1948 campaign when all odds were weighing down heavih 
against President Truman's re-election, organized labor alone stood firmly by 
him. Shown above is Pres. William Green gripping the hand of the young liberal 
senator from Minnesota, Hubert H. Humphrey, a tireless campaigner who fought 
along with labor, farmers and independent voters for the Fair Deal victory. 

Bottom— President Green with a group of youngsters and H. J. Heintz 2nd, vice 
chairman of Community Chests of America, complete a "red feather" tour in the 
day nursery of Friendship House in Washington, D. C, September 30, 1948, to 
mark opening of Community Chest Campaigns throughout the country. 



The annual "March of Dimes" appeal gets under way each fall with an unfailing 
call by William Green to all AFL members to aid in the collection of funds. 
Shown above is a very young polio victim greeting the AFL president in his office. 



The AFL president in conversation with famous playwright and FDR biographer 
Robert E. Sherwood. 




President William Green receives first batch of Samuel Gompers postage stamps 
from Postmaster-General Donaldson as United States pays homage to the memory 
of the founder of the Federation during his birthday centennial year. 



President Green is seen "shooting" a few introductory lines to "With These 
Hands/' the Ladies' Garment Workers' historic film which was screened in 1950. 
The AFL chieftain appears quite relaxed and "at home" with the mike. 




,; Smith steel Workers 

How Americans register their voices politically. Pres. Green shown testing "ballot 
secrecy" as he draws curtain over latest style voting machine, union-labor-made 
from A to Z, at a recent Union Industries Show. 











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Dr. Edward J. Sparling (left), president of Roosevelt College of Chicago, meets 
with top labor leaders interested in progressive education, Philip Murray, CIO 
president, William Green, AFL president, and Albert J. Hayes, head of Interna- 
tional Machinists' Union, to promote drive for a Samuel Gompers Memorial 
Fund to be presented to Roosevelt College on behalf of labor. President Hayes 
(right) is heading the drive. 


At dedication ceremonies on October 27, 1951, of Gompers Square in Washing- 
ton D. d in honor of the founder of the AFL, President Truman served notice 
that he will "renew his fight with Congress for tougher price controls Lett of 
President Truman is his daughter Margaret; AFL president Green is at his right. 









President William Green opens the annual Union Industries Show in May, 1952, 
at Boston, Massachusetts. Surrounding the AFL president are members of the 
Executive Council who met in Boston that month, and several New England 
labor leaders. 



President Green adds another trophy to his vast collection as he receives from 
Julius Hochman, ILGWU vice-president, an ornamental eight-light candlestick, 
a gift from the ORT World Organization, a society dedicated to the rehabilita- 
tion and retraining for useful occupations and citizenship of displaced and disin- 
herited youngsters. Adolph Held, chairman of American Labor Division of ORT, 
is at left. 


Clement Attlee, British Labor Party leader and member of the War Cabinet in 
1941 seen conferring with AFL President William Green while visiting the 
U. S.' A. in November of that year to attend meeting of the International Labor 


At luncheon-conference in San Francisco, initiated by Jewish Labor Committee, 
during formative days of the United Nations, President William Green discusses 
basic global issues with British Laborite George Tomlinson (right) and M. J. 
Coldwell, GGF leader of Canada. Subject: freedom charter for world minorities. 


"We Hail and Honor"— proclaims the plaque tendered to President William 
Green at the 1947 convention of the AFL at San Francisco by the Jewish Labor 
Committee, Catholic Interracial Council and the Negro Labor Committee. 
Charles S. Zimmerman, ILGWU vice president, and Philip A. Randolph, presi- 
dent Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, make the presentation. 


President Green grasps hand of Isaac Ben-Zvi, ardent laborite and member of 
Israeli Parliament (Kneset) at AFL 1948 convention in Cincinnati, Ohio. 



President Green looks contentedly at the souvenir folder entitled "The San 
Diego Story" sent to him as a memento of his visit on Labor Day 1949 to the 
Mission Bay Labor Jubilee. 


Shown above (1. to r.) are: David Dubinsky, ILGWU president, AFL secretary- 
treasurer George Meany, President William Green, and George M. Harrison, 
president of Railway Mail and Steamship Clerks' Brotherhood, about to depart 
on board the "He de France" November 19, 1949, to help found the International 
Confederation of Free Trade Unions. 


Top— President Green in midst of delegation from Histadrut, Israeli Labor Fed- 
eration, which visited the United States in 1949. 

Bottom— While in London, England, in December 1949, President William Green 
had been invited to take part in the opening ceremony of a hospital built in a 
working-class sector of the British metropolis. 


President William Green in hearty handshake with Walter P. Reuther, United 
Auto Workers' president (CIO), as they met at London, at the congress of free 
labor unions which resulted in formation of ICFTU early in December, 1919. 


At the world labor assembly where the International Confederation of Free 
Trade Unions was born at the London County Hall in the early days o£ Decem- 
ber, 1949. The entire AFL delegation, with President William Green and 
secretary-treasurer George Meany (extreme lower right) watching proceedings at- 
tentively from rising level of seats. 


To help settlers in new Jewish State-Discussing plans for enlisting further moral 
and material support for Israel and the hundreds of thousands of refugee settlers 
seeking to build homes there; above are (1. to r.): former Secretary of Labor Lewis 
B. Schwellenbach, Max Zaritsky, ex-president of the Hatters and Millinery 
"Workers International Union, President William Green, and Nelson Rockefeller. 


Top— Two Indian labor leaders, who recently spent some time in the United 
States, paid their respects to William Greert while visiting Washington. 

Bottom— At AFL-CIO luncheon, July, 1950, for Belgian labor guests. Shown (1. to 
r.) are: Philip Kaiser, assistant secretary U. S. Department of Labor, Josef 
Keuleers, Prof. Christian High School for Workers, Belgium, President Green, 
Nathalis De Bock, secretary-general Labor Federation of Belgium. 


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AFL chieftain gels rousing welcome at Brotherhood ol Electrical Workers' 1950 
convention. Electricians' president and AFL vice president Dan W. Tracy extends 
glad hand to President Green as delegates in background applaud. 


Ludwig Rosenberg (left), secretary of the West Germany Trade Union Federa- 
tion visiting the U. S. A., discusses plans with AFL President William Green and 
secretary-treasurer George Meany for interchange of workers to be trained tor 
leadership in the international labor movement. 


"Israeli Pioneer"— President Green fondly holds up bronze statuette of a young 
"chalutz," (member of a collective farm group) presented to him in recognition 
of lifelong support of Palestine labor movement and of the new Jewish state, at 
a great reception on January 11, 1951. 


With Philippine labor guests-President Green shown with Juan C. Tau, presi- 
dent of Philippine Federation of Free Workers (left) and Pacifico Cruz, president 
of Liberal Labor Union of Manila Railroad. 


Deeply moved, President William Green stands in front of bronze statue of him- 
self presented to him on October 28, 1951, in presence of a distinguished gather- 
in^ by Jewish Labor Committee. Watching presentation, (1. to r.) are: Adolph 
Held, JLC chairman, Maurice L. Tobin, U. S. Secretary of Labor, Alben W. 
Barkley, Vice President of the United States, and David Dubinsky, ILGWU 


President William Green shown with Japanese trade union delegation which re- 
ceift-tysvisited the U. S. (L. to r.) T. Fujita, Z. Mori, William Green, K. Tonaka, 
and M. Kitarnura. 



Eugenio Colorado, executive committeeman of Union of Workers of Colombia, 
Latin America, is greeted by (1. to r.) George P. Delaney, AFL International rep- 
resentative, President William Green, and Serafino Romualdi, AFL Latin- 
American representative. 


Axel Straud, chairman of Swedish Federation of Trade Unions, seen with Presi- 
dent William Green and Eric Boheman (right), Swedish Ambassador, at Embassy 
reception for visiting Swedish labor delegation. 


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It's Captain William Green now, so said Gov. James V. Allred of Texas (left) 
when he presented to President William Green a 10-gallon hat and made him 
an honorary captain of the Texas Rangers. The presentation was made during 
the 1938 AFL convention, in Houston, 1938. 


President William Green at the wedding reception of his first granddaughter-in- 
law, Miss Jane Force, TWA airline hostess who became the wife of his grandson, 
Capt. Robert W. McGiffin (right of Green), at the home of her uncle and aunt, 
Dr. and Mrs. E. R. DeWeese, Kansas City, Kansas. Before the war the AAF 
captain resided in Coshocton, Ohio, with his mother, Mrs. H. A. Scott. 


AFL president William Green greeting an old friend, Bernard Rice, of Dubois, Pa. 


Smiling in the Rain— AFL president William Green, umbrella unfurled, seen 
leaving the White House alter conferring with President Truman on current 
tense labor situation. 


President Green, during World War II, shakes hands with wounded veteran ai 
labor rally sponsored by AFL and held at Constitutional Hall, Washington, D. G. 














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When on-the-spot information becomes a pressing urgency at conventions, the AFL chief 
can always depend on George Meany, the Federation's secretary-treasurer, to meet the need 


President William Green and second AFL vice-president Matthew Woll (right) 
today are among the oldest members of the Executive Council. In Matthew Woll, 
Green has found, over the years, a staunch co-advocate of and an ardent cam- 
paigner for free labor everywhere. 





Pres. Green admires medal won by schoolboy for writing a prize essay on trade 


At California's southernmost tip. On visit to San Diego, for Labor Day, 1949, 
President Green meets Max J. Osslo, director of San Diego Labor Jubilee (right) 
and Daniel Flannigan, director of regional office of the AFL. 


President Green and New York newsmen-a regular feature whenever the AFL 
chieftain gets to America's metropolis. 


An early charter for the Brotherhood of Railway Clerks is examined by (1. to r.) 
Phil E. Ziegler, Grand Secretary-Treasurer, AFL President William Green, BRC 
President George H. Harrison, and Martin W. Clement, board chairman of 
Pennsylvania Railroad. All were speakers at the Clerks' 50th Anniversary, 
at Cincinnati, Ohio. 

The "Second Lady" of the land, Mrs. Alben W. Barkley, in animated conversa- 
tion with Pres. Green at one of the bigger gatherings of the capital's notables. 


Left— Going to Europe, for the first time since in 1919 he went over with Samuel 
Gompers to the Paris Peace Conference, President Green is headed for London 
with an AFL delegation to help found a new free world labor center— the ICFTU 
-in the late fall of 1949. 

Right— President Green is taking a crack at the Army's walkie-talkie, a popular 
feature at the Union Industries Show, in Boston, May, 1952.