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President Kennedy Speaks at United Auto Workers Convention

May 8, 1962 - President Kennedy (pictured with Walter Reuther) called on labor today to exercise restraint and responsibility in its bargaining demands. In a speech before the convention of the United Automobile Workers, the President made it clear that he expected labor as well as management to consider the general welfare and the public interest. He said that “no financial sleight of hand” could raise wages and profits faster than productivity without the threat of inflation. Unjustified wage demands, he said, can lead to recurring price and wage demands contrary to the national interest. “This Administration has not undertaken and will not undertake to fix prices and wages in this economy,” he said. The speech was delivered before a generally enthusiastic and vociferous audience of 2,800 U.A.W. delegates and 8,000 visitors and friends. It was generally interpreted as the President’s answer to those who had wondered if he would talk as firmly to labor as he did to management after the steel price increase last month.

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