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Work Relief Administration Press Conferences
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Press Conference
Harry Hopkins
March 23rd, 1934
10:30 A.M.


Query:

You had a wire from five labor unions at El Paso, asking you to discharge Robert Holliday, a member of the Texas Relief Board, because of the stink he raised, because he caused eight union men to be fired. What are you going to do about that?

Mr. Hopkins:

Well, Mark Twain's wife would not let him use the word "stink." I did not know I had such a wire, but if I have, I will look into it at once.

Query:

He is a member of the Texas Relief Board. Have you any power over it?

Mr. Hopkins:

Yes, we have some power over it. But Holliday was not appointed by me.

Query:

Well, what are you going to do about it?

Mr. Hopkins:

I will look into it.

Query:

You had a conference with the Mayor of Houston, Texas. What was that about?

Mr. Hopkins:

He was interested in municipal financing. He is attending the Mayors' conference here and did not come in as the Mayor of Houston, but merely as a member of that conference. We discussed a number of things.

Query:

In the rural relief statement, it says that those not able to obtain employment will be subjected to re-investigation. Will that be a long process?

Mr. Hopkins:

No, it will be done speedily.

Query:

How long will it take?

Mr. Hopkins:

Oh, a few days.

Query:

Have you any information about the CWA march to Washington tomorrow?

Mr. Hopkins:

I have an engagement tomorrow with people from New York and other cities.

Query:

Is it that same group?

Mr. Hopkins:

Yes, I think so.

Query:

What time will this meeting here be?

Mr. Hopkins:

Some time after 11 A.M.

Query:

Is Norman Thomas coming?

Mr. Hopkins:

I do not know, but I will be glad to see him if he does.

You know, this is a great town. It you go over to Ickes' office after six o'clock, they will not let you in, and it you come out of Mrs. Perkins' office after six, they will not let you out.

Query:

Well, they won't let you in here after six, either.

Mr. Hopkins:

Nonsense. Where did you get that idea?

Query:

I tried to do it last Saturday.

Mr. Hopkins:

Well, they probably thought you were a suspicious character.

You know, I told you I caught a fish and you wouldn't believe me. Now, I'll prove it. Here is a picture. It is a hammer-head shark and weighs twelve hundred pounds.

Query:

You can always hire those to take a picture.

Mr. Hopkins:

Now, you know I wouldn't do anything like that.

Query:

Which one is the fish?

Mr. Hopkins:

The purpose of the photo and passing of it around, of course, is to distract your attention, so you will not ask any more questions.

Query:

Did you name that fish after any relief executive?

Mr. Hopkins:

No, I called him Sam Insull.

Query:

In this rural statement, you speak of Bulletin 1530, issued March 9th. What is that?

Mr. Hopkins:

I'm sure I don't know. 1530? We can't be up that far. Oh, Mr. Milford tells me that that defines the drought areas.

Query:

Have you started collecting cows for the rural needy?

Mr. Hopkins:

No.

Query:

Does not that phase fit in with the new A.A.A. dairy program?

Mr. Hopkins:

Yes, it will be done with them.

Query:

This tearing down of useless buildings; is that in the nature of slum clearance?

Mr. Hopkins:

Primarily, yes, although it will include other things.

Query:

Has the Surplus Relief Corporation done anything about submarginal land? Have you purchased any?

Mr. Hopkins:

No.

Query:

Have you made any plans for that?

Mr. Hopkins:

Yes.

Query:

Do you know where you will start first, with what program?

Mr. Hopkins:

We have a pretty good idea.

Query:

In what section of the country first?

Mr. Hopkins:

We are thinking of all sections.

Query:

Will you be ready to start that program pretty soon?

Mr. Hopkins:

We are going ahead now. We are exploring these things now and deciding on what we will do. I presume that we will be purchasing land very soon.

Query:

In a month or so?

Mr. Hopkins:

Yes.

Query:

In the outline for cities over five thousand, you give the tentative division of workers on housing at fifteen per cent. Would that be over and above the PWA housing?

Mr. Hopkins:

Yes. It has nothing to do with the PWA.

Query:

Does it mean building houses?

Mr. Hopkins:

Primarily it is a demolition program, and the repairing of houses in lieu of rent, and in the rural sections repairing and possibly building of houses.

Query:

Did what the President said on Wednesday change your strike relief policy?

Mr. Hopkins:

No, it has not.

Query:

The President said, flatly, that relief had nothing to do with strikes and that if a man was in need he would get relief, but the policy you announced the other day was that if the National Labor Board says a strike is unwarranted and unjustified, a man would not get relief. There is a good deal of difference between [what] the President said and what you say.

Mr. Hopkins:

No, there is not. The President did not give you all the details, that was all.

Query:

There is only one case in which relief was given to strikers and in that case, the bituminous coal workers, when the coal board said the strike was not right, the relief was withdrawn.

Mr. Hopkins:

So far as I know, we have never refused to give relief to strikers since I have been here. Now, in the Wierton case, ninety-one families were being given relief before the strike, and three weeks after, four hundred and ninety families were being given relief. On Wednesday, of this week, we are having a meeting in Wierton, or whatever the name of the place is, to go over the names which they say were refused relief.

Query:

How much relief were they getting?

Mr. Hopkins:

I cannot tell that now.

Query:

Well, they said they were only getting thirty cents worth of butter a week.

Mr. Hopkins:

I cannot tell that, but I doubt it. It is not true, however, that we have refused relief to any strikers yet.

Query:

The Labor Department says they never determine the merits of a strike.

Mr. Hopkins:

That is for the National Labor Board.

Query:

But the bituminous coal board said the strike was not right and the relief was withdrawn.

Mr. Hopkins:

That is not right.

Query:

But I was told that was the case.

Mr. Hopkins:

You may have been told it. I cannot help that. It is the National Labor Board that we look to.

Query:

Is there anything mandatory about these percentage provisions?

Mr. Hopkins:

No.

Query:

Does this rural program become effective at once?

Mr. Hopkins:

Yes.

Query:

Can you tell us how many will be employed on works projects and how many in the rural work?

Mr. Hopkins:

I would say between one and a half and two millions on the works projects. As to the rural stuff, I can't tell you. It would be a guess.

Query:

You said before it would be about a million, but that was a guess.

Mr. Hopkins:

Yes, that is right.

At this point, the conference adjourned.

Frank J. Hartnett

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