“We are in deep trouble in America, but not because our system of freedom is unequal to the challenge. We are in trouble because we are not trying. We are playing out on the outer fringes of our basic problems, for we have failed to fully comprehend the dimension and the character of the challenge we face.”
“Those whom society neglects will not be influenced by pious platitudes about the virtues of American democracy. The unemployed in America can’t pay their rent, feed their kids or assure them of a decent education with some theoretical economic potential. Their problems will be solved only as American society develops the social mechanisms, policies, and programs which translate technological progress into opportunities for human fulfillment.”
“This is the central task of the American labor movement. The labor movement is the only group with economic and political leverage and social motivation. Unless we make this fight, the fight will not be made and American democracy will be unequal to the challenge it faces at home and in the world. That is why American labor must get on the march.” — Walter P. Reuther
Excerpted from Reuther’s commentary “The Trouble with Labor,” published in the April 1964 edition of FOCUS/Midwest, April 1964.