Labor and Civil Liberties — A Troublesome Problem

Labor and Civil Liberties — A Troublesome Problem

Some time ago the Fund for the Republic sponsored a poll to discover how Americans felt about “Communism, conformity and civil liberties.” The general findings of the study make highly illuminating reading; they are available in book form (Communism, Conformity and Civil Liberties, by Samuel Stouffer). Two leaders in workers’ education, Benjamin Segal and Harry Fleishman, have since managed to obtain exclusive and complete data on the 750 rank-and-file union members, 687 wives of union members, and 107 local union presidents included among the 6,500 persons interviewed—data not broken down as such in the book. They published a good part of this material in July 1955 in a series of articles in Labor’s Daily, a newspaper sponsored by the International Typographical Union.

The samplers found that the average trade unionist, like the average American, worries little about either Communism or civil liberties. Less than one per cent of the union members mentioned either of these as matters that concerned them most. Among union presidents, as among other community leaders, the proportion was a little higher—five per cent. This despite the fact that the survey was made in the summer of 1954, the time of the Army-McCarthy hearings.

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