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For example, most union contracts specify a training period much less than the 10 weeks provided for in our contract with the Labor Department. If a member company provides the 10-week training period under Project Manpower, he could find that he has breached ħis union contract and could be reopening the contract to renegotiation.
In this connection, what we are trying to point out here is that the various details of this have been worked out and this was checked with the major union. We are in a position that we are damned if we do and damned if we don't.
If we follow the procedures outlined in our contract with the Labor Department, we can be in violation of a union agreement; if we follow the provision in the union agreement, we can be in violation of the Labor Department.
Senator KENNEDY of Massachusetts. May I ask: Has this been the principal stumbling block?
Mr. EHRLICH. Right now it is, sir, since January 10. It has been a principal stumbling block for us.
To give you an example: In most of the contracts, for people of a normal IQ we have in most contracts maybe a 5- or 6-week training period. The 10-week training period was put in because these people are mentally retarded and need additional training.
The fact that we breach any part of the union contract opens us up to renegotiation. On the local level some union members or union leaders take a position in regard to these contracts which seems to be at variance with what the national unions have already agreed to.
Our position here is—and we want to make this very clear-we do not expect that these people, once they have completed their training period, should be treated any differently than anybody else. If they have to be members of the union, they have to be members of the union; but because of the nature of the people we are working with, we feel we need this 10 weeks time and until that training period has expired, some waiver should be given to help us comply with this training program.
Senator MURPHY. What unions do you generally deal with?
Mr. EHRLICH. AFL-CIO Laundry Workers, Teamsters. We go right across the board.
Senator KENNEDY of Massachusetts. Are there any instances where failure of negotiations by your organization with the unions have frustrated the implementation of the program?
Mr. EHRLICH. So far, yes, sir; we do not get an answer from them and the kind of answers that we are getting are not desirable ones. For example, one has said to us already that there should be some limitation as to the number of trainees that there will be and that he was concerned about the length of the training period.
These are things that we have tried to explain, which make life difficult for us, because actually we feel this is a proper training program that we have come up with here, and we are not trying to change his authority when we have to work with him and want to work with him, but it puts us in a very difficult position. If he says no, that's the end of it. A man cannot work ahead if the local union fails to recognize his contract.
Senator KENNEDY of Massachusetts. How many have there been?
Mr. EHRLICH. There has been since January 10—the one who has not said no, has not said yes. He keeps bringing up all these conditions, however.
What we are actually trying to do here is prevent a problem before it develops into something that could wreck a program of such tremendous promise for the entire Nation.
We believe that in programs such as project manpower where new opportunities are being created for the handicapped, labor unions at the national and international levels should take a firm position to work with the Labor Department and the institute to prevail upon local unions to grant waivers for these programs.
In other words, we are pointing out that this is a critical problem, not just for project manpower but for all national on-the-job training programs.
We have noted earlier that the institute firmly believes that national on-the-job training programs such as project manpower are necessary to provide the means by which specific elements of our society can be given the opportunity to achieve goals which might otherwise be denied to them, but which they richly deserve.
Only a national trade association which serves as a clearinghouse for an entire industry can mobilize that industry to do a more eflective job on a larger scale. Thus, the Institute of Industrial Launderers has already shown that a program can be set up, broad in scope, at a minimum cost to both the Government and the industry.
You might say on this that this could have been tried in a local area and individually statewide, but we spent a great deal of our association money to launch this program at our convention. One hundred and ten plants at that time signed up because we brought them together at one place to discuss it, and I might say that we are trying to train a thousand mentally retarded with a staff of three people and at a minimum cost to the Government, because we want to be sure that we can effectively do this. We have never had any experience with it, but our association is also supplementing these funds from funds from our own membership dues. By improving the mechanics of such efforts, we will be
(1) Adding new contributors to the tax rolls at the lcoal, State, and National levels, and
(2) Providing new evidence of a Nation's total commitment to the ideal that all men have the right to achieve the fruits of our free enterprise system. The Institute of Industrial Launderers has an unflinching belief in a productive system where, through the dignity of gainful employment, every citizen shall have the opportunity to share in and contribute to it. We believe that on-the-job training programs, properly developed and adequately administered by our responsible industries, can provide these opportunities for the Nation and its citizens.
Project manpower and other similar on-the-job training programs hold the promise of a new day for our Nation.
May I say in this connection we were sort of reluctant dracons to even take this program, because we were attempting to do this work as an industry ourselves. When we took it, we were under the impression that we would sign contracts under a specific set of rules set down by the Labor Department, that we would then be in the position of
negotiating with our plants to make sure that the plants observed these rules and could move into this program quickly.
I again want to emphasize the fact that laundry plants like so many other industries, when they need employees, need them immediately; and they have to be in the position to move rather quickly to replace their employees.
I certainly want to thank you, Senator, for the time you have given
Senator KENNEDY of Massachusetts. Mr. Ehrlich, you have given very forceful testimony here and I think it is a matter of great concern to members of the Labor Department. We heard from the Secretary last week where he used this program as an example of an effective on-the-job training program.
I think you have detailed it here; going through your appendix very briefly, I think you have indicated how frustrating this program has been. As I understand it you have received $345,000 from MDTA; is that correct?
Mr. EHRLICH. No, sir; we bill every 30-, 60-, or 90-day period.
Mr. EHRLICH. We have been in existence since September 20, and I think we have billed through December. Actually, we submit-I think it is every 60 days—a bill for which we are due to be reimbursed. But we have not received this money.
Senator KENNEDY of Massachusetts. You have not received it yet?
Senator KENNEDY of Massachusetts. As I understand, in your appendix, you have trained a number of mentally retarded.
Mr. EHRLICH. The total number that we now have in training, sir, is four.
Senator KENNEDY of Massachusetts. I am just looking down. It says, therefore, the number of trainees in training to date is none.
Mr. EHRLICH. There are four now in training; they have not completed the 10-week training program.
Senator KENNEDY of Massachusetts. How many have completed?
Senator KENNEDY of Massachusetts. What was the date of the first conversation that you had with the Labor Department, the people of the MDTA and on-the-job training; how long ago was that?
Mr. EHRLICH. We originally met with them about March or April
Senator KENNEDY of Massachusetts. We are talking about an 8- or 9-month period!
Mr. EHRLICH. Yes, sir. We were at that time working with the President's Committee on the Employment of the Handicapped for a program ourselves which we were going to pay for ourselves.
Senator MURPHY. May I ask a point ?
But the original problem—that is, from March of last year and January of this year-that was not with the local union. That problem was with the Labor Department.
Now you have overcome that and now your problem seems to be the local union; is that a correct statement ?
Mr. EARLICH. Let me explain it this way: Up until September 20 when we signed the contract, we did not think we had a problem,
because in our negotiations with them the questions we raised-many of the same questions that are coming up here now-we were sure this was not very much of a problem.
September 20 was the actual date our contract went into effect. From September 20 to January 10, 1966, we had a continuing problem trying to eliminate the redtape that we were facing at the various local levels, which did not enable us to move forward.
Senator MURPHY. The redtape at the local levels of the Labor Department or with the local labor unions? I am trying to separate the two.
Mr. EHRLICH. That included the manpower advisory groups, the Bureau of Apprenticeship Training, local and State, the Bureau of Employment Security. These were the areas in which we were having the problems-from September 20 to January 10, 1966—which meant that we had no contracts approved as of that date.
Now, since January 10, 1966, where they have given us authority to move ahead and bypass these people but notify them when things are being done, we have moved ahead and the only problem now facing us is this union problem, as we now see it. Senator MURPHY. The local union problem? Mr. Eurlich. That is right, sir. Senator KENNEDY of Massachusetts. I have two very brief quesDo you plan to fill the initial commitment of trying to train 1,000 mentally retarded ?
Mr. Eurlich. We are going to try, Senator, to do so, because we took this on as a very serious commitment on our part and we are going to try. If we can avoid the redtape, we still think it can be done.
We are going to try awfully hard to do so, because we feel that this program is not only good for the country, but also could be good for our industry and we are going to do everything we can to make it Successful.
Senator KENNEDY of Massachusetts. Would you say the problems which you have been confronted with, as far as implementing what I must say is a highly commendable attitude of the Industrial Launderers Association, have certainly been discouraging to you, at best?
Mr. EHRLICH. Yes, sir,
Mr. Eurlich. No question about this, sir; in fact, very truthfully
The only reason we were dissuaded from doing that, I might point out, is the President's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped, because in addition to the training program here we found that there has been no statistical information to show what the mentally retarded could do, and they have asked us, plus the National Association of Retarded Children, to try for the first time to make a complete study of what mentally retarded can do, what their absentee record 15, as compared with normal people; what their productivity is, and we feel that this is something that we should do.
I know this is close to your heart, too, Senator.
Senator KENNEDY of Massachusetts. Yes, it is.
I want to thank you, Mr. Ehrlich, and the members of your association, first of all, for the willingness to undertake this program, the fine spirit in which it was undertaken, and also to say that you presented, I think, a very candid, honest, and forthright presentation of the matter which I know I find deeply disturbing.
We are certainly going to make every effort that is possible in this subcommittee to see what can be done to better implement and encourage the good faith of the people in your industry and other industries, who are honestly attempting to cooperate with the Federal Government, to work with local interests, and most of all, to help the disadvantaged unemployed or underemployed workers of this country.
I want to express the great appreciation of the members of this committee for your appearance here and the quality of your testimony and the candor in which you responded to the questions.
Mr. EHRLICH. Thank you.
Senator, I would like to say one other thing. We feel so strongly about it, if we can be of any further assistance to this committee in any way, shape or form, we hope you will not hesitate to call on us.
Senator KENNEDY of Massachusetts. Thank you very much.
(The report referred to previously follows:) INTERIM REPORT No. 3 SUBMITTED BY BERNARD H. EHRLICH, PROJECT DIRECTOR
AND HARRY FAUBER, PROJECT FIELD DIRECTOR (National MDTA-OJT contract DS-J-30 covering period November 22, 1955,
through December 22, 1965) That it may become part of the record, this report will deal with the following:
1. Progress of the Institute of Industrial Launderers and participating agencies.
2. Progress delays due to cumbersome BAT field regulations and the lack of prior established guidelines governing the administration of and regional authority pertaining to national prime contracts.
3. The project staff becoming staff extensions of regional and local BATBES offices.
4. Authority of the prime contract.
5. Subcontract requirements and problems. 1. Progress: Institute of Industrial Launderers
Number of trainees processed and awaiting placement; 22.
Number of new plants, this report, agreeing to operate training placements; 36. (See attached listing by BAT regions.)
Number of new subcontracts written or being written with industrial laundries, 22.
Number of subcontracts signed to date by industrial laundries ; 6.
Number of subcontracts sent to regional BAT offices for approval over 30 days ago; 5. Less than 30 days ago; 1. No effort is being made to sign up the noncommitted plants due to backlog of committed plants resulting from processing delays.
Were the Institute free to implement training programs when requested by launderers, some 50 trainees could have been in training by this date.
Progress: NARO and DVR Of 40 letters from mental retardation associations, workshops, state and local DVR offices which have identified approximately 300 candidates currently availa able for training, many of the above are already screening and referring trainees to the project.