CABINET NOTES IN WAR-TIME
Notes on Cabinet Meetings—School Gardens—A Democracy Lacks Foresight—Use of National Resources—Washington in War-time—The Sacrifice of War—Farms for Soldiers
FOUND IN LANE’S FILES
February 25, 1918
As I entered the building this morning Dr. Parsons [Footnote: Of the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines.] met me. I asked how the cyanide plant was getting on. His reply was to ask if he might request the War Department to allow us to make the contract —that he could have the whole thing done in two days. This is where we are at the end of more than six months of effort. It is hopeless! We find the process, everything!—but cannot get the contract, through the intricate, infinite fault-findings and negligence of the War Department.
Manning [Footnote: Of the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines.] came to see me to say that he expected, after the Overman bill was passed, that the President would take over the gas work— order it into the War Department. He had been asked twice if he could be tempted by a uniform into that Department, and had said that he was freer as a civilian,—had planned the work and gathered the force as a civilian, and would not leave the Department. He felt damned sore and indignant, that a work so well done should be the subject of envy, and possibly be made less effective and useful. ...
Everit Macy lunched with me and told me the sad story of the mishandling of labor affairs by the Shipping Board. He had gone to the Pacific Coast and with his colleagues, Coolidge and others, made an agreement with the shipbuilding trades. Five dollars and twenty-five cents for machinists, etc. In Seattle, however, because of one firm’s bidding for labor, he felt that there would have to come a strike before this schedule would be accepted. Before he got back the threatened strike came, and then the demand of the men for a ten per cent bonus was acceded to, upsetting all other settlements in San Francisco, Portland, Los Angeles, etc. Result, ten per cent gain everywhere. And now the Eastern and Southern men ask the Pacific scale, and he can’t see how it can be avoided, nor can I. They will have to standardize all wages.
Poor chap, his advice was scorned, for he protested against the bonus being given to Seattle, and as he said, “If it had not been war-time I would have resigned.” To increase the men in the South, to this unprecedented scale, will not get more ships, he fears, but less, for they will not work if they have wages in four days, equal to seven days’ needs. I advised for standardization. He said the Navy wouldn’t hear of it, as it would demoralize their yards. ...