Letter from Christian B. Anfinsen to David Chudnovsky
In this letter to Chudnovsky following a meeting with President Lane Kirkland of the AFL/CIO, Anfinsen briefly reviewed the
options for cooperation between labor groups and scientific researchers in the future.
Thank you for your letter of January 17, and your survey of the meeting that we had in President Kirkland's office. One
could certainly sense a real interest in the representatives of the labor unions, and I hope that we can take advantage of
their interest to develop a useful program of pertinent research and development.
I have been somewhat unclear from the very beginning as to the nature of the relationship between the AF of L and science
in general. My impression at Arden House was that labor had decided to do its part in supporting research that was applicable
to the labor movement by actually contributing funds to specific
individuals or groups doing this research. Whether or not this is a correct interpretation, I do believe that this will be
one function that the unions can partially fulfill since support by government appears to be declining more and more, and
the participation of the private sector will become greater as time goes
Perhaps the most important contribution of labor, in my mind, would be the power of its structure as a lobbying force on Capitol
Hill. As many groups as possible should apply their weight to Congress and to the White House in connection with the erosion
of government support of university research. It was clear at the
meeting that we held a couple of weeks ago, that it is very likely that individual members of the advisory group will tend
to push their own special interests. I may support research in macro-molecules; Macarthy may stress his own personal interest
in computers, etc., etc. One of the functions, it seems to me, would be to decide on aspects of basic research and, possibly,
development that would bear on problems unique to the labor movement. Such problems might be involved with environment, occupational
hazards, and the like. To come up with specific proposals of a more general sort such as studies on cancer or heart disease,
etc., is more the area for which government should be responsible. I think that an effort should be made in the case of our
advisory body to the AF of L to try to home
in on aspects of science that would have a direct bearing on the well-being of the laboring citizen.
This is a very incoherent letter, I am afraid, but I think that the current situation is rather incoherent, and that we need
some clarifying discussions, with no holds barred, in an attempt to reach a meaningful purpose for the whole enterprise.
I certainly will be happy to participate to the best of my ability.
It was very nice to see you again, looking well and happy. Best regards to your brother and your family. I look forward
to seeing you again soon.