Politics Then and Now — A Labor Day Reflection

Do you remember the politics of 1956?

For those of you — particularly the younger generation voters — who watched the pageantry of the Republican National Convention and saw the platform of the Tea-Party-dominated Republican Party, you may find it enlightening to put that platform in the historical context of what the Republican Party used to stand for – supporting workers’ rights, securing benefit programs and securing the rights of labor unions.

Here is the platform of the Republican Party of 1956, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower was seeking re-election to a second term:

“The Eisenhower Administration will continue to fight for dynamic and progressive programs which, among other things, will:

  • Stimulate improved job safety of our workers, through assistance to the States, employees and employers;
  • Continue and further perfect its programs of assistance to the millions of workers with special employment problems, such as older workers, handicapped workers, members of minority groups, and migratory workers;
  • Strengthen and improve the Federal-State Employment Service and improve the effectiveness of the unemployment insurance system;
  • Protect by law, the assets of employee welfare and benefit plans so that workers who are the beneficiaries can be assured of their rightful benefits;
  • Assure equal pay for equal work regardless of sex;
  • Federally-assisted construction, and maintain and continue the vigorous administration of the Federal prevailing minimum wage law for public supply contracts;
  • Extend the protection of the Federal minimum wage laws to as many more workers as is possible and practicable;
  • Continue to fight for the elimination of discrimination in employment because of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry or sex;
  • Provide assistance to improve the economic conditions of areas faced with persistent and substantial unemployment;
  • Revise and improve the Taft-Hartley Act so as to protect more effectively the rights of labor unions, management, the individual worker, and the public. The protection of the right of workers to organize into unions and to bargain collectively is the firm and permanent policy of the Eisenhower Administration.”

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