Organized labor realizes an old ambition this week when the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations jointly take over a regular 15-minute slice of NBC's Saturday night network time. Together they gain what neither has ever had-the opportunity to inform, and the obligation to please, a national weekly radio audience. The two organizations will alternate in producing regular weekly programs under the title Labor for Victory, Saturday nights from 10:15 to 10:30, E.W.T., beginning this Saturday.
Long bitter toward the press for-as they thought-scandalizing labor's name, A.F. of L.'s pressagent Philip Pearl and C.I.O.'s pressagent Len De Caux last summer turned to the radio networks, with whom it had become a point of pride to be impartial in all debate. They started separate negotiations for radio time. By early December NBC was close to consent, but the declaration of war delayed the discussions.
The recent overtime pay controversy, when the A.F. of L. resorted to paid newspaper advertisements to explain its case, lit a fire under labor's radio thinkers. Meanwhile, NBC Commentator H. V. Kaltenborn had worked himself up to a jeremiad against the unions. The unions thereby acquired another talking point, if they wanted one, in their case for a labor interval on the radio.
A fortnight ago NBC granted network time to labor "as a public service." While William Green and Philip Murray conferred with President Roosevelt one afternoon, their pressagents Pearl and De Caux agreed to alternate programs and to let a coin-toss decide who should begin the series. Green was willing, but Murray was gracious. As they left the White House. Murray said: "You can have it, Bill."
Later and more formally Murray stated: "The C.I.O. will use this opportunity for . . . promoting the war effort. . . . We are most happy to cooperate with the A.F. of L. . . ."
Green matched him with a statement saying, "We want to tell what the workers of America are doing in the victory production program. . . . We are working hand-in-hand with the C.I.O."
Both declared, in an unprecedented joint statement: "We are grateful to NBC. . . ."
De Caux and Pearl hope to make the Labor for Victory program popular enough for an indefinite run, using labor news, name speakers and interviews with workmen. Labor partisanship, they promise, is out.