Lyndon Johnson on Jobs



As VP, chaired Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity

The chairmanship--of the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity--carried with it a threat of damage to his ambitions. If you accept the post, Rowe wrote him in alarm, "You will become the target of the 'advanced' liberals because you are not doing everything and also the target of the southerners every time you try to do something even minor. It will be impossible to satisfy either group no matter what you do." The warning was unnecessary; Johnson was well aware that no proposal had enraged southerners more than attempts to force employers to hire black men and women for jobs in which they would be working in proximity to white men and women.
Source: Passage of Power, by Robert Caro, p.173 , May 1, 2012

1937: Ran for House on labor rights, against corporations

[In a 1937 Special House Election] Johnson said that he favored "the right of labor to have work" as well as "a sound national program to support and develop business."

A short time before, Roosevelt had announced his plan to "pack" the Supreme Court. "If the people of this district are for bettering the lot of the common man; if the people of this district want to run their government rather than have a dollar man run it for them; if the people of this district want to support Roosevelt on his most vital issue, I want to be your congressman. But if the people of this district don't want to support Roosevelt, I'll be content to let some corporation lawyer or lobbyist represent them."

The immediate result of this was one Johnson had foreseen. The other candidates turned their fire on him. With all of them talking about him, he was getting more publicity than any other candidate, & lining up virtually all of the hard-and-fast New Deal vote. He had almost twice as many votes as his nearest opponent

Source: The Lyndon Johnson Story, by Booth Mooney, p. 25-27 , Jun 1, 1964

Eliminate abuses of power by organized labor

Johnson had voted in Congress for the Taft-Hartley Act. This law, passed over Truman's veto in 1947 with the aid of most of the Democrats from the South, was designed to eliminate the abuses of powers granted organized labor under the Wagner Act. The Taft-Hartley Act set up certain protections for employers as well as employees, placed limits on the closed shop, regulated and restricted political contributions from union funds, and increased the burden of union responsibility in contracts between labor and management.

The general public regarded the act as a necessary curb on the tremendous power and influence the labor unions had come to possess. The law was popular in Texas. But leaders of organized labor bitterly stigmatized Taft-Hartley as reactionary legislation.

Source: The Lyndon Johnson Story, by Booth Mooney, p. 60-61 , Jun 1, 1964

Oppose 35-hour workweek, but also oppose excessive overtime

For our goal is not merely to spread the work. Our goal is to create more jobs. I believe the enactment of a 35-hour week would sharply increase costs, would invite inflation, would impair our ability to compete, and merely share instead of creating employment. But I am equally opposed to the 45- or 50-hour week in those industries where consistently excessive use of overtime causes increased unemployment.

So, therefore, I recommend legislation authorizing the creation of a tripartite industry committee to determine on an industry-by-industry basis as to where a higher penalty rate for overtime would increase job openings without unduly increasing costs, and authorizing the establishment of such higher rates.

Source: Pres. Johnson's 1964 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 8, 1964

Extend minimum wage to 2 million unprotected workers