I know some conservatives have used a quote by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as “proof” that even FDR was opposed to public employee unions, but let’s take a look at the full context of what FDR said about public employee unions, so that we can fully understand his thoughts on public employee unions (emphasis mine):

The desire of Government employees for fair and adequate pay, reasonable hours of work, safe and suitable working conditions, development of opportunities for advancement, facilities for fair and impartial consideration and review of grievances, and other objectives of a proper employee relations policy, is basically no different from that of employees in private industry. Organization on their part to present their views on such matters is both natural and logical, but meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government. [. . .]

Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable. It is, therefore, with a feeling of gratification that I have noted in the constitution of the National Federation of Federal Employees the provision that “under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government.”

H/T to folkbum’s rambles and rants.

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43 Responses to What FDR really said about public employee unions

  1. […] The analogy is not perfect: one “right” on which Roosevelt would not have agreed with Obama, for example, is the “right” of public sector workers to bargain collectively and to strike, which Roosevelt opposed. […]

  2. […] The analogy is not perfect: one “right” on which Roosevelt would not have agreed with Obama, for example, is the “right” of public sector workers to bargain collectively and to strike, which Roosevelt opposed. […]

  3. Anonymous says:

    […] See: Obama's South African Inspiration: Why It Matters 1936 Constitution of the USSR, Part I Blogging Blue | What FDR really said about public employee unions Obama, FDR and the Second Bill of Rights – […]

  4. […] The analogy is not perfect: one “right” on which Roosevelt would not have agreed with Obama, for example, is the “right” of public sector workers to bargain collectively and to strike, which Roosevelt opposed. […]

  5. […] The analogy is not perfect: one “right” on which Roosevelt would not have agreed with Obama, for example, is the “right” of public sector workers to bargain collectively and to strike, which Roosevelt opposed. […]

  6. […] The analogy is not perfect: one “right” on which Roosevelt would not have agreed with Obama, for example, is the “right” of public sector workers to bargain collectively and to strike, which Roosevelt opposed. […]

  7. Terry Brandburg says:

    So in other words he says (under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government) by this he is pulling the teeth of Unions because the Strike is the weapon of Unions to force their desired outcomes, keeping them from achieving the disasterous outcomes that Unions have now been able to force on tax paying citizens.

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