The Special Assistant to the Secretary of War ( Ohly ) to the Assistant Secretary of State for American Republic Affairs ( Braden )

Dear Mr. Secretary: Since our conference of several weeks ago with Assistant Secretary of Labor Morse, the Governor of the Panama Canal and General McSherry,96 negotiations have been going on with the latter to secure his services as a special advisor to the Governor on labor relations. You will be glad to know that satisfactory arrangements have now been worked out and that General McSherry will leave for the Canal Zone shortly after the first of the year.

As I see it, his mission will be of a threefold character. In the first place, he will serve as a special advisor to the Governor for the purpose of (1) making recommendations to the latter concerning changes in policies, programs and other matters affecting labor in the Canal Zone, (2) assisting the latter in effecting such changes to the extent that this can be done during the period of his visit to the Zone, and (3) recommending to the latter a long-range program for the handling of labor matters in the Zone, including suggestions with respect to the kind of permanent labor relations office, if any, which the Governor might have in his organization.

In the second place, he would be available on a loan basis, at least to the extent the Governor could make him available, to render somewhat similar assistance to the military and naval organizations in Panama which, together with the Panama Canal itself, constitute the principal employers in the Zone. In such a small area the problems of the three should be approached in a uniform fashion, and I think General McSherry can do a great deal to assist in bringing this about. The Governor is eager for this type of coordination since the Panama Canal is by far the largest employer of the three and has a more permanent responsibility.

In the third place, General McSherry would obtain basic information as to the labor problems of the Panama Canal and their significance in order (1) that he himself will be in a position to serve as one of the representatives of the United States Government in the meetings of the International Labor Organization at Geneva next summer, and (2) that the War, State and Labor Departments may have available those facts on this subject which will assist them in shaping their policies in Panama and Latin America generally.

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General McSherry plans, before his departure, to gather from the government agencies involved as much information as possible concerning the labor problem in the Canal Zone, and related issues, and I have told him that I was sure that he could obtain any necessary information and assistance from the State Department through you and your representatives.

I believe that General McSherry’s trip can be of great benefit to all three Departments concerned, and we are grateful for the part you played in helping the Governor to secure McSherry’s services.

Sincerely yours,

John H. Ohly
  1. Gen. Frank McSherry, Special Adviser to the Governor of the Panama Canal.