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the full national educational television network presents at issue a commentary on events and people in the news at issue this week a conversation with united states secretary of labor willard wirtz talking with secretary works at the department of labor in washington is john roberts labor reporter for the wall street journal the most people the secretary of labor has really visible on the washington scene unless he's grappling with some major labor management dispute once that dispute is out of the way he appears to melt back into this mahogany paneled office waiting the alarm bells of another collective bargaining crisis to bring him out again but these days far more is at issue in the field of labor than just the keeping of the industrial pigs impact of automation on jobs have become a problem with top government a priority unemployment has been at or near five percent for more than six years the development of job openings for negroes and other
minority groups is essential to the successful implementation of the civil rights bill recently passed by congress and signed into law by president johnson the creation of new jobs is at the heart of the proposed administration anti poverty bill now being considered by congress in large part the responsibility for finding answers to these problems rest with the current secretary of labor was the w word works as a secretary in the auto industry is currently in negotiations with the united auto workers on a new contract the johnson administration has turned the outcome of these negotiations crucial to the future of the economy and the administration has expressed a desire to stay out of them but at the same time the administration has stressed the need for each of the parties involved to take heed of the public responsibilities doesn't that suggest that if the government stands ready to intervene if it judges two parties are not meeting their public responsibilities i know i don't think they've
had the intervention as far as the government's concerned that those events that there's a standby function as far as the public him rowan collective bargaining goes to the government to mature question names though i think that there will be a government that has faced some of the automobile case by a direct definitely not what do you think the climate of collective bargaining is that it is becoming stronger and more responsible as its becoming the tour i have a very strong feeling that they a good deal of the underbrush of false difference in division between labor and management has been cleaned out i don't mean that the ultimate collective bargaining settlement has been reached or ever will be and i don't mean to suggest for a moment that a softening of position and either side is a good thing that they stop wasting that time arguing about forced difference is the overall statistics show of course that the amount of lost time from strike has been going down steadily for the last oh three or four or five years and in general it seems to me the collective
bargaining is becoming a more responsible a more reasonable after that preceded that was before this is just a general feeling that your hammer asserts have there been some developments that you think and there has in that has been within the last ten or three or four years now i think the emergence of a pretty clear and development on the record of reduced resort to strike we had fewer emergency disputes and we've had an ad during earlier period i think there is a and that there's a real consciousness turn on the part of american labor in american management the public will no longer put up with national emergency stretched i don't think they'll ever again be a hundred and sixteen days drake in the steel industry as there was fifty nine sixty i think we learned our lesson as far as the possibility of composer arbitration is concerned in the legislative that experiment to work in the railroad ks we discover the congress the country don't like that resort either
all of these things seem to me to contribute to an increasing realization on the part of labor management there is a reasonable settlement and i must be far what is that part of the answer to this that the government by stepping in the past disputes has indicated two major unions and major industries that they cannot strike in certain cases and then to purchase this collective bargaining climate which you say is better at a little bit of a cost that is that a union a major industry can no longer strike their address been some suggestion that at grab some cost long line under it strongly of the view that it hadn't been really quite dramatic action which was taken for example by sector eagleburger and two years ago he was sector labor in the moving into these some of these cases just the point which he did they would have gone to an extreme which would've meant legislative legislative interference of the winner stronger kind which within that than what we've had and so although
of course is a price whatever the government steps in its easily quite important that there be at that day careful rationing of intervention if you will which it let's say a private dispute go to a certain point but then steps in to prevent it's going to a point where they would be legislative inaction justice secretary and a major problem in many of the labor management disputes in the past that we've just been talking here certainly immigration recent railroad work rules dispute is the question of how to balance the interest of man and improvements and machinery is there an overall answer to this question about the job displacing effect of technology technological advance one that will give all equity they've built sites yesterday is not a balance between two sets in and just this idea that full employment is going to come as a result a race between man and the change is nonsense and yet that's the view and a good many people's minds and if there were such a race between people on the one end and computers on the other it perfectly clear for a fixed
number of jobs the crude when the computers would because they work at less than a living wage but that isn't the point the point is that there's got to be an increasing number of jobs in this economy we've got a million and a quarter or a million and a half more people in the workforce each year from iraq and we've got to have to have the increased number of jobs which would take care of people and we're absolutely dependent upon technological development to increase our competitive officials to do the kind of job would flow which will give the yale it will it will yield from the economy add jobs for that increased number of people adjust to the atf your question is because if we assume that there were to be a stop all of a sudden of all invention of all technological development we would immediately lose every international market where people another countries who are moving ahead rapidly picking a lot at that they're ecologically my point is i wouldn't work my point is simply that we are absolutely
dependent upon automation will be invigorated the economy will turn and automation is stagnation the other side of that that we've got to recognize the fact that automation does move some people out of their double up with that was what i was going to ask you here though one of the widely held opinion about automation has been that in the long run it's going to create more jobs and destroyed it but i think there's a growing feeling more consensus that right now automation is costing more is eliminating more jobs than the economy can produce no i don't think that's right i think any i know i think it is destroying jobs a year it's producing jobs dnc but the trouble is that the photo job a is not in a position to move ended b and c they may be in another geographical area they may involve a skill which he doesn't have a neighbor and like me for a different employer or different company in a different industry another
problem that you see to it that the person who happens to be in the way of the machine gets the education in the training the relocation allowance is whatever it may be to permit him to move into that other job but i don't think it's a matter of is destroying more jobs and it creates i think it's only about not even a short term that's all i don't think so at all i think the number is going up at the number of jobs going abroad and the trouble it but it takes one man's job away from them and create another job and we've got to do what's necessary to move that first man into a position to take a second job that means more education it means a training program it means recognizing that when the advantage of automation as a distributed among all of us the price of a campaign concentrated on a few i'd like to suggest that if the nation would simply accept the proposition the man whose job is displaced or destroyed by machine has a right to another job then we go ahead and do the things that are necessary in the position is that it anywhere
near realization i think we all really admit it and recognize the fact that this is only a matter of implementation to do what's necessary to have to complete that then that commitment you know the situation that you talk about is not one of desperation there are over a million and a half more jobs in this country today than they were twelve months though it's not a situation of a job shortage and in answer your question yes i think this country is perfectly willing to accept the proposition that a man who loses a job to machine is entitled to be trained for another job on the holiday off into the area of unemployment last month as you well now the seasonally adjusted rate of unemployment rose to five point three percent from five point one percent the month before and this was despite him a parrot continued improvement in the economy of various administration officials have said well we expected to be under five percent by the end of the year you think there's hope can be realized oh i expect that hope can be realized that i'm no more interested in getting down to five percent unemployment and
i am in getting to a hotel if i'm driving across the country to stop for the night that's important to get their butt five percent is a completely and satisfactory unemployment figures so is four percent so is any specific percentage figure out you know in every other democratic capitalistic a country in the world they've got unemployment down now to around one one and half and two percent in almost every other country or were just not used to being less than that in a competition and there's no earthly reason for what is it that makes our unemployment rate so sticky at two things one is that we had not done what's necessary to release the year the demand in this country for all manner of things now the tax bill that is probably one of the most significant advances we've made in meeting this problem and an invigorated the economy in the last few months the increase in the number of jobs so that their today a million more jobs in there were six months ago on a part of it is a result of seasonal development is a reflection of the release of consumer purchasing power as a result of the tax bill that kind of thing we got to do the other
kind of thing we've got to do is to realize that when automation is doing is taking all of the unskilled work out of the economy and we're going to have to start educating and training people for skilled jobs i'm thinking particularly about the younger worker as nearly as i can figure things out right now our situation is that were stacking up about a quarter of a million young boys and girls every month every year i mean i'm what can only be called a human slightly they coming out of high school without the ability to work without training for the job which are available we've got to move in on that part of the problem that you have to begin to provide some answers presenter the afl say iowa has come on and proposed a thirty five hour week is one way of spreading the available work various people economists and labor people all i have proposed massive public works spending doesn't their case strengthens the longer unemployment stays high bad there and says those edges you've mentioned on my judgment right only to the point
and would somebody else comes up with a better answer i think they're wrong because what they involve is the cutting down of the amount of time which is work and the intrusion of the government further into up to in my judgment be essentially a private economy i'd like to suggest the better answers were just simply lose if we would do the things which need to be done to build the schools we need the hospitals the road the recreational facilities the water supply facilities the transit facilities if we would do what we need to do to bring our exports up to the percentage of the world market where they were three or four years ago if we do what we need to do to bring the thirty million people who are in american families at an income level below three thousand dollars a year up to that minimal level if we set out to do those things without a manpower shortage in this country not a man barks that that's true but isn't this a long term program should just like oh long term i suppose that and what the politics of the
situation demanded shorter term answer i don't know either will or not it may be that this country which spends its time getting its news in ten minute that television capsules and in headlines in newspapers and in the short answers a political sell weapons will be pushed to a short quick answer which in my judgment will be wrong i don't think that the year that they had that for the achievement of full employment is a job for summer patriots or for somebody who can think about only four minute i think the answer is our that we must do these things to make the economy more active to create more consumer demand for more jobs to increase our exports to increase our educational system to give every child every boy and girl pauly education free which he needs and canyons and that is we do those things this matter will be this this to probably will be met would you include college educated highly educated i would add
at least two more years to the present day free education which goes up through high school and not just two more years a college education for people for one reason or another are not going to go into college they're probably out to be more vocational education to meet demands of the situation in which a great many board ruled on going to college we got to investigate the question of when this blizzard starting at the eighty six at age sixty eight writer not my present impression is that especially in the areas of under privilege in this country there are more people committed unemployment between the ages of three and six and then the other period they grow up in a family where they forgot what work means for one reason or another and i'm a very well be a radical amount of that situation of an earlier age this idea of keeping somebody is going to lose sixteen well it was right a hundred years ago and we had it wrong today our principal out to be that in one way or another every single boy and euro stays in school until that boy or girl is right get into his years she is equipped with the skills
which are required for the jobs in today's automated become a part of the all the program of the quick pinging off youngsters an older people with needed skills is going on right now from the manpower development of training program do you think that this program is really reaching the hard core problem that you just talked about the really an id people unemployable and teachable or are you mary retraining the cream of the unemployed not korean but your point is well taken and in the past a man part of a monitoring the act was by way of ritual legislative restraints confined too much for the easy case area i can only say this with the amendment of the mann part of our monitoring act in december nineteen sixty three and with the enactment of the anti poverty bill if it presently before congress will be in a position in the next twelve months to move in on above five hundred thousand to six hundred thousand of the hard cases of
unemployment and lack of skill in this country particularly among younger her younger workers or not exclusively with the enactment of the anti poverty bill will be able to make a real dent in this situation in training and yes we'll be at every possible with the air with the revised man part of element into any act to train some two hundred to three hundred thousand people next year mostly adults and with the enactment of the party bill it'll be possible to train even the work camps the job corps or in the neighborhood youth corps program on the work study programs another half million boys and girls all well on our way all well and good but were you going to develop a job for these people all have this audio only about a million every year that are at all of this will be a farce if they're not jobs at the end of their retraining program the education the retraining programs and you're probably right and going back to the fact that as far as unemployment is concern unemployment insurance is only aspirin tablet shaped it may lessen the pain it doesn't cure it at all
as far as a real unemployment situation is concerned retraining is as i say a snare and a delusion unless there's a job at the end of it when we go through with it the basic answers to this situation must be on the one hand the preparation of the individuals for the work but on the second the decision on the part of this country to do the things which it needs to do what it wants to do which it's in a position to do and which would if we didn't require the services of the full workforce one more question in this area all right you train all these people and you get them out in the jobs isn't the economy it advancing in technology so rapidly that these people were almost forever be just one step ahead of unemployed it's probably too putting your point differently that from here on out most people are going to change jobs five or six times during their lives now what that means is and in order to educate them for the situation we've got to give them a much broader base skill base than boys and
girls leaving especially those dropping out of high school and had in the bath but it doesn't mean being one step ahead of unemployment they can also me being ready for a shifting kind of employment that we got to perform i'd like to switch to an entirely different topic now justice secretary a great many people have the idea of the labor department as the representative of labor unions and the commerce department is kind of the exclusive representatives of business how do you view the department's world ari if there is that i didn't i'm not sure there is it's a result of not having read a newspaper or a book for the last twenty years on active firm if there has been a major change in government as i saw it twenty years ago and i've seen it now it is that that whole idea of special interest adversarial departments and government has gone completely when you force so far broader role in this as iowa as like seventies when
love and i think it's in that sector labor jim mitchell a republican and then arthur goldberg a democrat probably lifted the department of labor in most people's minds clear above that area or a level of stultifying partisanship i don't believe there's a feeling and along with the department of labor is representing just the labor unions or commerce just as well if you do have something of a constituency it is to the trade union movement yet the trade union movement is very vocal and persistent speaking for itself the thirty five hour week is one example and the afl cia all has taken the administration's wage price guidelines to test doesn't this tendency or desired the trade union movement to speak out for itself on its own sometimes in opposition to what you may urge after your effectiveness with them all not at all this is part of the function of the labor movement
in this country never to be satisfied economically with the status quo that's been the historic role of labor quite important it seems to me that day that there'd be a group in the society which is demanding as something more of one and another not just for themselves but for the economy and i point out well you've said that the wreckage of the last three or four years is that the labor unions have a test priority imports legislatively these things to an education bill in nineteen sixty one to a trade expansion act in nineteen sixty two to a tax reduction the civil rights bill in nineteen sixty three and nineteen sixty four you know as you look backward i know no other group organized group in the american society that is more entitled to claim that it represents a public interest as well as the interests of a particular group sure i think there's a helpful healthy kind of partisanship and the whole american economy but the question is moot anything wrong with american labor movement they out in front the
administration or the department of labor are the society's all in this man's for certain economic advantages for labor my answer is it's all to the good secretary i'd like to ask you one question that it's like asking you what do you think of the cosmos but there has been much talk lately by administration officials about a manpower policy now this is kind of a vague term to the layman what in understandable language is really mad men here i know it's amazing and that man our policy and active manpower policies the phrases are currently there seems to me the main in its simplest form that policy which will ensure full employment and so it includes particularly this preparation of people for the kind of jobs which an automated economy will have for them but it means a good deal more than that it also means saying to it that in an economy which is going out the rate of three or four or five percent a year there are people prepared for all of the jobs which is kind of
economy demands we have serious shortages to day in some of the skill occupations in some of the professional pursuits in some of those in those ordinary pursuits which nevertheless require good deal of skill and a great many of them now there's a failure of a manpower policy when a shortage of that kind of out side of your question this way the active man our policy is one which on the one hand sees to it that the there is preparation of individuals for all the jobs which this automated economy at the right and which on the other hand sees to it that those steps are taken to supply work for every individual in the society wants to work i'd like to talk about you a little bit now mr secretary authority on all these others had you been secretary of labor for almost two years now how does a job differ from what you thought it would be or i don't know a particular difference is they've been adams
was in many people who can say as i can that i'm doing what i would rather do anything else in the world that's true and so to the extent that it is true to point to differences between expectation or innovation is quite typical i suppose that there is inevitably a feeling of frustration i suppose that i would've thought was possible to get across the country and more readily than it has been possible what's happening as far as the younger with workers younger people in our workforce are concerned that your ear you're bearing an ice rink on something that i also wanted to ask you and that is this every job has its successes and its disappointments you have to look back or will you look back and say what your greatest feeling of success has come from that's american crystal if i can have been part of an administration which enacted the civil rights era and declared an all out war on poverty and what i had to do things that are in essence which we do a jewish
perform the extraordinary experiment in government are enacting a tax bill for the sole purpose of stimulating the economy introducing reason where it needed to be introduced if i can be part of an administration which will have done those things and part of the country then which will have faced up to these matters these problems of automation and not turned away from them in friday but has started on the other hand the necessity of educating people for the jobs which are going to be supplied if i can be part of an administration in the country which is done those things and which has brought unemployment down from seven percent to i hope a point around three percent or something of that guy and then my satisfaction switch to have nothing to do with a settlement a particular labor disputes will be complete now obviously the other big question what is your greatest disappointments so far as secretary and unemployment is still over five percent in this
country i don't know whether sector labor there's any special responsibility on it that that's the most serious discipline that along with the point and which i referred for the difficulty of getting across to the country what's happening as far as the un educating younger workers concern there are a boat eight and a half million youngsters coming into the workforce in the next ten years as things i know about thirty five million youngsters coming into the workforce in the next ten years as things now stand at a half million of them were dropped out of school before they get to go before they finish highschool that'll be economic suicide what's involved is shown up today in the juvenile statistics a juvenile delinquency statistics and the others of that cat why largest disappointment in not being able to get a crust public the fact that what we're doing when we're failing to educate the younger boys and girls particular that what we're doing is committing them to economic suicide
my fair that the felon getting out across is the largest to support i'll take you back or just have one last question on the trade unions the labor department figures show that converse a continued downward drift in the number of so called blue collar workers and the rise of white collar employees because the strength of the trade unions is concentrated in those blue collar area what you see this trend means for the future of all i think it means that the year that the process is of unionization organization which is quite markedly and will have to be directed toward the white collar worker instead of the blue collar worker toward a scale instead of frequently the unskilled workers so i think it means a change in the approach of organized labor i think it means a temporary diminution in the numbers are the percentages of organized labor but i think that'll soon be overcome and that what will say will be a sharp upturn in the number of in the membership of organized labor in this country well the city would you expect this to assert itself anytime soon so far the labor unions have not
been successful in sort of successful in organizing white collar worker a sad and yet in the areas in the service trades and among the professional groups such as teachers just as one illustration we have the sharpest upturn in union membership in the last year to the day that we have an episode that day and my answer would be that after some interruption has been that interruption there will be a relatively quick uptick as far as union membership is concerned it with secretary kerry
At Issue
Episode Number
A Conversation with Willard Wirtz
Producing Organization
National Educational Television and Radio Center
Contributing Organization
Library of Congress (Washington, District of Columbia)
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Episode Description
30 minute piece, produced by NET and initially distributed by NET in 1964.
Episode Description
U.S. Secretary of Labor, W. Willard Wirtz tonight (Wednesday, July 22) called for a careful rationing of intervention by government in labor-management disputes, a retraining program for workers displaced by machines, a drastic cut in the nations unemployment rate, and a solution to the growing high school drop-out problem. Secretary Wirtz emphasized these points on National Educational Televisions At Issue, which was broadcast across the country on the N.E.T. network of 82 affiliated non-commercial stations. He was interviewed by John Grimes, labor reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Although theres a price wherever the government steps in, it seems quite important that careful rationing of intervention, if you will, which lets a private dispute go to a certain point but then steps in to prevent its going to a point where there would be legislative enactment, said Secretary Wirtz. He said that neither Congress nor the country wants to resort to legislation to solve labor disputes. Secretary Wirtz ruled out government participation in the settlement of the current United Auto Worker negotiations with the automobile industry and said collective bargaining is becoming a more responsible, a more reasonable procedure than it was before. While pointing out that a vigorous economy is entirely dependent upon automation, the Labor Secretary said Weve got to recognize the fact that automation does move some people out of their jobs. The number of jobs is going up all the time, he continued. The trouble is that automation takes one mans job away from him and creates another job, and weve got to do whats necessary to move that first man into a position to take the second job. That means more education; that means a training program. Mr. Wirtz expressed deep disappointment about the continuing high rate of unemployment and the growing school drop-out problem. He said he hopes to have the unemployment rate under five percent by the end of the year but added five percent is a completely unsatisfactory unemployment figure. So is four percent. He sees two solutions to the unemployment problem: legislation like the recent tax bill which he called one of the most significant advances weve made in meeting this problem, and a training program for unskilled workers who must move into skilled jobs. As things now stand, he said about the drop-out problem, 8 million will have dropped out of school before they finish high school. My largest disappointment is in not being able to get across publicly the fact that what were doing when were failing to educate the younger boys and girls is committing then, to economic suicide. At Issue is a 1964 National Educational Television production. Alvin Perlmutter is the executive producer. Andrew Stern is the producer. (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
Episode Description
From Washington, DC, At Issue will present a half-hour interview with U.S. Secretary of Labor, Willard Wirtz. Secretary Wirtz will assess the progress being made by the Department of Labor with the Presidents anti-poverty program. He will also discuss the governments role in collective bargaining in light of the current negotiations between the United Auto Workers and the automobile industry and the strength of labor and management in the business world today. Hosting is John Grimes, labor reporter with the Washington Office of the Wall Street Journal. Running Time: 29:30 (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
Other Description
At Issue consists of 69 half-hour and hour-long episodes produced in 1963-1966 by NET, which were originally shot on videotape in black and white and color.
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Talk Show
Social Issues
Politics and Government
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Executive Producer: Perlmutter, Alvin H.
Guest: Wirtz, Willard
Host: Grimes, John
Producer: Stern, Andrew A.
Producing Organization: National Educational Television and Radio Center
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Library of Congress
Identifier: 2047495-1 (MAVIS Item ID)
Format: 2 inch videotape: Quad
Generation: Master
Color: B&W
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Identifier: 2047495-2 (MAVIS Item ID)
Format: 1 inch videotape: SMPTE Type C
Generation: Master
Color: B&W
Library of Congress
Identifier: 2047495-3 (MAVIS Item ID)
Format: U-matic
Generation: Copy: Access
Color: B&W
Library of Congress
Identifier: 2047495-4 (MAVIS Item ID)
Generation: Master
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Identifier: 2047495-5 (MAVIS Item ID)
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Chicago: “At Issue; 42; A Conversation with Willard Wirtz,” 1964-07-20, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 19, 2022,
MLA: “At Issue; 42; A Conversation with Willard Wirtz.” 1964-07-20. Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 19, 2022. <>.
APA: At Issue; 42; A Conversation with Willard Wirtz. Boston, MA: Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from