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On behalf of myself and the members of the National Association of State & Territorial Apprenticeship Directors, I wish to thank you for this opportunity to meet with you this morning.
Senator KENNEDY of Massachusetts. The next witness this morning is Mr. Bernard Ehrlich, who is with the Institute of Industrial Launderers.
STATEMENT OF BERNARD H. EHRLICH, ASSOCIATION MANAGER,
INSTITUTE OF INDUSTRIAL LAUNDERERS
Mr. Ehrlich. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, we have prepared for you a statement plus a copy of our Interim Report No. 3. I do not want to take the time for the interim report, but it was submitted here as part of the record, so that you may see the kind of report our association gave to the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training concerning the problems we have had with our program.
Senator KENNEDY of Massachusetts. It will be so included as an appendix to your testimony. Sr. Enrich. I would like to read my testimony.
I am Bernard H. Ehrlich, association manager and general counsel of the Institute of Industrial Launderers.
The Institute of Industrial Launderers is a trade association representing over 400 industrial laundry plants, whose volume of business is in excess of $500 million a year. The members of the institute are engaged in the scientific laundering and renting of industrial work clothing, machinery wiping towels, dust control services, protective clothing and covers, entrance rugs and other specialized services to industry, commerce, and Government.
The industrial launderer is a specialist who plays a vital role in increasing production, promoting safety and in reducing health hazards. Industrial laundries save businessmen vast sums of money each year and increase the morale and productivity of employees. By making possible new standards of cleanliness and sanitation, industrial laundries improve the products you eat, wear, and use.
The institute is honored to have this opportunity to discuss with Fou briefly our program to employ the mentally retarded, our experiences under our on-the-job training program with the Federal Government and to suggest ways in which important efforts such as this can be improved for the ultimate good of the entire Nation. We call our program Project Manpower.
PROJECT MANPOWER-HOW IT BEGAN
The institute's profound belief in the opportunity for every individual to attain his highest possible level of achievement is well known to the Congress, for it was this organization which expressed its supfort in 1965 for extension of the minimum wage coverage to the entire laundry and cleaning industry before both Houses. This is still our belief
. This same belief is even more effectively expressed in Project Technically labeled national MDTA-OJT contract No. DC-J-30, Project Manpower is the institute's program to train and employ 1,000 mentally retarded men and women in industrial laundry plants across
the Nation over an 18-month period. The program is the very first of its kind.
This ambitious effort was born about a year and a half ago in the mind of the Institute of Industrial Launderers Member Aaron Lazaroff of San Diego, Calif. Mr. Lazaroff at that time had already demonstrated in his own plant that the mentally retarded could become productive citizens in their communities and active contributors to the economy.
Mr. Lazaroff brought his idea for an institute-sponsored program before our board of directors in February 1965. The board responded immediately by approving an association-financed pilot program with a limited number of member plants. The institute worked in consultation with the President's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped to insure that the program would be conducted in the most effective way possible.
While the pilot project was still in its planning stage, both the President's Committee and the U.S. Department of Labor became extremely interested in what we were trying to accomplish and urged the institute to expand its efforts by embarking on an industrywide effort through the Manpower Development and Training Act.
CAREFUL PLANNING LAID THE GROUNDWORK FOR PROJECT MANPOWER
Because of the institute's sincere dedication to the objectives of this program, we cooperated wholeheartedly with these agencies in developing the very first industrywide program to train and employ men and women who until recently had been thought to be unable to assume the day-to-day responsibilities of independent living.
Under the terms of a contract between the institute and the U.S. Department of Labor, a grant of $345,000 was made available to help defray the costs of training of the mentally retarded candidates in industrial laundry plants and to provide expert guidance for the program. As association manager, I was designated the project director
. Because of the unique responsibilities to be undertaken by the institute under this program, extreme care was taken before any contracts were signed or funds made available. Intensive advance planning was carried on by the institute board of directors, its Project Man. power committee, and association staff. Specialists in the field of mental retardation were recruited to handle the operational aspects of the program and on September 20, 1965, when the contract between the Federal Government and Institute of Industrial Launderers was ratified, the machinery for carrying out the program had been assembled.
PROJECT MANPOWER BRINGS QUICK REACTIONS Referring to Project Manpower in a press conference on November 2, 1965, Secretary of Labor Willard Wirtz said as follows:
This is America at her human best-giving her sons and daughters a chance to overcome their handicaps and help themselves.
In a letter to the institute, President Lyndon B. Johnson commented:
The members of the Institute of Industrial Launderers have shown conspicuous foresight in establishing a program for the hiring of the mentally retarded ... This is the first such program in our nation. I am confident that it will be one that is worthy of widespread imitation by other national associations.
Further support came in a wire from Vice President Hubert Humphrey to the association's national convention in November 1965. The wire said in part:
Opening doorways of job opportunity for the retarded is an act of true justice. Giving them a fair chance is good business, good sense and humanitarian. Your members will be pleased to find, as so many employers long since discovered, what fine workers the mentally retarded are when properly selected, trained and placed. You will be rightly proud in helping them achieve their potential as citizens and taxpayers contributing to the strength of American society.
IL CONVENTION ENLISTS INDUSTRY SUPPORT
A generous amount of time of the association's annual convention was set aside--and this was in November-for the specific purpose of introducing and explaining power manpower to the industry and to enlisting the support of all institute members.
Within only a matter of minutes, operators of more than 110 plants expressed in writing their willingness to participate. Project manpower had taken its first great stride toward success.
PROJECT NEARLY HALTED BY PROCEDURAL PROBLEMS
During the initial stages, the institute as the prime contractor and the project staff were charged with the establishment of local pilot projects which would develop referred procedures, forms, and other operational patterns that could be applicable to the project on a nationwide basis. Unfortunately, at this early critical stage when the project staff should have been able to devote all of its time to getting the program rolling, it found itself bogged down by having to produce all necessary forms itself, because the new forms were not available from the Department of Labor.
Having accomplished this and believing that we were then ready to proceed, our project staff went to work to get contracts signed by participants in the local pilot project effort. To our amazement, we found it was necessary to secure the approval of as many as give groups before any contract could ultimately be accepted at the national level and work could go forward to get candidates into training. Each group had equal veto power over any local contract. Senator MURPHY. Would you explain the groups to me, please ? Mr. EHRLICH. This included the manpower advisory committee that the previous gentleman referred to, the State and local bureau of apprenticeship training people, the Bureau of Employment Security, and the local unions.
The previous witness referred to the fact that there were various State laws and different procedures. We found in every State we went to that the procedures were different, each contract had to be written and rewritten. One group would agree with certain language, another would disagree with that language, and we could not get them to agree without many conferences and meetings, and even then we were not sure of agreement.
Senator Murphy. Did it seem they were more interested in disagreeing over words than actually getting on with the job?
Mr. EHRLICH. We felt this way, sir. We felt we had a very simple proposition which did not require a great deal of work. Our proposi
tion was that we were going to take mentally retarded people and put them into the training program just as any other person in the laundry plant. They would be paid like any other person in the laundry plant and handled exactly the same way.
It seemed like a very easy, efficient manner of handling this situation. However, we found that we could not get this agreement of these people.
In addition, we felt that we had a responsibility to preserve the funds that were allocated for this project and we found that there were enormous numbers of letters, telephone calls, travel, that had to be made, and still with very little activity.
I want to give you an example, if you will wait just a second, sir.
Senator MURPHY. I don't mean to seem to lead the witness, but would you say if you ran your business the way this is run, you would be out of business?
Mr. EHRLICH. No question about that.
Senator KENNEDY of Massachusetts. Mr. Ehrlich, who were the groups! It seems that most of them are local groups, is that correct, in each State?
Mr. EHRLICH. That is correct, sir.
Senator KENNEDY of Massachusetts. So we are talking about local unions?
Mr. EHRLICH. Local unions, local bureaus of apprenticeship training officers, among others.
Senator KENNEDY of Massachusetts. This is what is often referred to as local control ?
Mr. EHRLICH. Yes, sir.
Senator KENNEDY of Massachusetts. So, as I gather from what you have said, you feel that if we had a streamlined procedure whose guidelines came from the Federal Government, we could eliminate a great deal of the local bureaucracy which is handicapping this pro
Mr. EHRLICH. That is correct, sir.
Senator KENNEDY of Massachusetts. I think there have been some very constructive suggestions made about streamlining forms and I think that this certainly is one of the handicaps of this program, ils Secretary Wirtz has indicated. But so often we hear about leaving these initiatives in local communities for local action and local responsiveness. I think your testimony is quite revealing.
One of the reasons why we ought to at least reconsider this program is because of local interests.
Mr. EHRLICH. Sir, we have found that our relationship with the national has been very effective; in the local group we have really had many problems.
Contracts are subject to the approval of so many different agencies, personalities, and varying regulations existing at the local level that the procedures became cumbersome and ineffective. The result was that the regulations nearly became a greater challenge than the goals of the program itself.
For example, under the old arrangement, a subcontract had been written with a member plant on October 4, 1965, and submitted to the various groups for approval. This contract was not approved until 116 days later, on January 28, 1966. Similar delays were experienced with all the early Project Manpower subcontracts.
I might say in a laundry plant when they need a new employee, it is impossible for them to wait for a long period of time, because of production problems, until someone is approved. The net result that we found in the early contracts when they needed the people, by the time the contracts were approved or coming close to approval, they had to go out and hire other people.
THE INSTITUTE RECOMMENDS SOLUTIONS Because existing procedures were obviously unworkable, the institute requested that the Bureau of Apprenticeship Training make certain changes
. A copy of the Project Manpower Interim Report No. 3 outlining the problems and suggested solutions is attached to this testimony for your information.
We felt we should not only be critical, but we should make some constructive solutions to the problem, which we did.
Because of the excellent working relationship that has developed between the institute and the Bureau, a new set of regulations based on institute suggestions was quickly approved by the Manpower Administrator of the Labor Department with an effective date of January 10, 1966. Under the new arrangement the institute deals directly with the Labor Department for subcontract approval and program implementation. Since the change became effective, just since January 10, 50 subcontracts have been written providing training opportunities for more than 200 mentally retarded. Before the change, only one subcontract for five trainees had been approved.
UNION CONCURRENCE AT LOCAL LEVEL REMAINS A BARRIER
Thile the approval procedures involving governmental agencies have been substantially modified, there remains this one additional potential hurdle: local union concurrence.
The institute is charged with securing local union concurrence for each subcontract written with a covered plant. This seems to us to be an improper and unduly sensitive delegation of responsibility to the Institute of Industrial Launderers. No national organization such as ours should be involved in local union situations. Before proceeding with the program, approval of the appropriate national labor organizations had already been secured, therefore the intervention or even the potential intervention of local unions in a program such as this rould seem to be totally inappropriate.
As things stand today, if a member proposes a program and a local union rejects the idea, there can be no program. On the other hand, the local union could accept the program but impose certain limitations such as the number of trainees, for example.
Such limitations, we believe, could conceivably cause us to be in conflict with our contract with the Labor Department. More importantly, they could prevent the achievement of the program's objectives.
The only solution that we have come up with is that the Labor Department would send a letter asking the local union's concurrence and cooperation with the overall project. However, if the union still says no, there can be no program unless the institute member is willing to risk a violation of his union contract.