William Green was President of the American Federal of Labor, before the merger with Congress Of Industrial Organizations, addressing a gathering on the subject “Challenges To Democracy”. October 1939 had more questions than answers. There was a war underway in Europe. There was a chance we were going to be dragged into it, and the sides for us not getting involved were just as many than those who wanted us to get involved.
It was just a little over 20 years since the end of World War 1, the war that promised to be the end of all wars. Now a militarized and industrialized Germany, headed by Adolf Hitler was tipping the scales into full-out war with the invasion of Poland, and the intervention of Britain and France, and a growing list of allies, was making the possibilities of Europe once again engulfed in an all-consuming war was threatening to have it all happen over again. But Nazism and Fascism and Communism were bubbling under the radar during World War on. Communism, by way of Bolshevism and Marxism saw the toppling of the Monarchy in Russia. But Nazism and Fascism were different kettles of fish altogether. But, at least for a while, Communist Russia had joined forces with Nazi Germany in what would be an uneasy and tenuous-at-best-alliance. But they still all represented ideologies that held a certain amount of appeal to a percentage of Americans. And the result was a fear that Democracy as we knew it was going to be threatened in the long run or not.
So William Green, an outspoken supporter of FDR and instrumental in the passing of the landmark Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, the first federal law requiring a minimum wage and a 40 hour work week, addresses this gathering on October 5, 1939 on the subject of Challenges To Democracy. Sadly, the address goes longer, past the allotted broadcast time, and is promptly cut-off at the 15 minute mark. That’s the way things were broadcast a very long time ago.