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We have used the term "company-dominated union", for want of a better term. That is almost identical with what we mean by the term which is used when they speak of the captive mines. It is a union or an organization formed by the ownership or management of the company, dominated in its policies, and in many cases the officers salaried or paid on time by the employer. No such organization can, or course, exercise really independent judgment with regard to the major issues and the major points of difference between the employers and employees in that plant or in any industry.
The free opportunity for organization of the workers for purpose of being represented in a collective bargain is, it seems to me, essential to the further development of a sound industrial relationship in the interests of all of the people of America.
We are now in a transition period in our history and in our economic life. There is no reason why a people who are committed as we are to the conception that by the proper use and employment of political democracy we can solve our problems cannot avoid the major injustices which people have suffered under any other transition periods. I am not one of those who think that industrial dispute is necessarily wrong or always disastrous. There is a natural conflict of view in many aspects of life which springs up, and there must be a settlement of that conflict. It must be settled either by the economic action of those who are in control on either side, or it must be settled by some appeal to a constituted judicial procedure. It may sometimes involve utilization, and probably should involve the maintenance of both methods and both techniques, but unless we have an orderly judicial process there will assuredly always be the appeal to economic force even at times when it is not necessary and not wise, and when it involves an unnecessary hardship upon the whole community as well as upon those who are parties to the dispute. A useful and practical alternative is desirable--the public interest.
Therefore it seems to me that this session of Congress should give very great heed to the possibilities of the further development of the judicial method as an opportunity for the settlement of such industrial disputes as can be properly settled by the judicial method.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any questions by the committee? If not, Madam, let me express the thanks of the committee for your able presentation and to express the hope that we may keep in touch with you and have your further advise and cooperation.
Secretary PERKINS. I shall be very glad to keep in touch with you.
The CHAIRMAN. Milton Handler, general counsel National Labor Board and professor of law at Columbia University.
STATEMENT BY MILTON HANDLER, GENERAL COUNSEL TO THE
NATIONAL LABOR BOARD AND PROFESSOR OF LAW AT
Mr. HANDLER. General counsel to the National Labor Board, professor of law at Columbia University.
The CHAIRMAN. How long have you been general counsel?
Mr. HANDLER. Since October 8, 1933.
The CHAIRMAN. We will be pleased to have your views in regard to this legislation.
Mr. HANDLER. If it please the members of the committee, I should like to review briefly the experience of this board since its establishment on August 5, 1933, last year, and to acquaint you with some of the difficulties under which it has labored, to explain the need of new legislation and to analyze some of the important features of the pending bill.
I have with me in my brief case some of the documents you requested in the testimony of Senator Wagner, which I should like to present to the reporter, if I may.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; you may leave them with the secretary.
Mr. HANDLER. The present Board was established primarily as a board of mediation to compose industrial disputes, and for that reason it was organized on a bipartisan basis, with equal representation to labor and to industry, with an impartial chairman at its head. The volume of disputes during the early phases of the recovery program required the establishment of regional or local boards throughout the country in order to handle this tremendous volume of cases.
The CHAIRMAN. Do the regional boards act in those cases that are referred to them by the Federal board here?
Mr. HANDLER. Well, we have worked out a procedure whereby cases come before the Board either on the complaint of the parties or on the motion of the Board, and when a dispute arises either our boards in the field may take action on their own motion, or the cases may be referred to them by the Department of Labor, or they may be referred to them by the administrative staff of the Board. We have worked out necessarily a complete and whole-hearted cooperation between the Department of Labor and the administrative tíve staff of the Board in order to avoid duplication of effort in any of these cases.
The CHAIRMAN. I do not quite understand what the regional board does.
Mr. HANDLER. Well, the regional boards are composed of equal representatives of management and labor under the head of an impartial chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Do they first try to settle any local trouble, and if they are unable to settle it, it comes to the larger and central board here in Washington?
Mr. HANDLER. Precisely. The Board has assembled a staff of competent mediators whose function it is of adjust the disputes in the field, in cooperation with the regional boards.
Senator Davis. How many conciliators have you?
Senator Davis. May I ask you what they receive monthly? Are they all on a per-diem basis or a monthly salary?
Nr. HANDLER. Some are on both, but I do not have those details just now, Mr. Senator.
The CHAIRMAN. You will furnish us with that information?
The CHAIRMAN. You might let us have a record of the complete personnel of the organization. I suppose there is no objection to that, Senator Wagner?
Senator WAGNER. Of course not.
Senator Davis. Mr. Chairman, I would like to have the decisions that have been made by the Board inserted in the record at this point.
Mr. HANDLER. I have them with me.
The CHAIRMAN. Will the Public Printer have sufficient paper? He says they are very voluminous.
Senator DAVIS. A digest would not be out of place, would it, Senator?
Senator WAGNER. We can give that. I don't know as you want them all printed in the record.
The CHAIRMAN. You do not want a written transcript of all the decisions?
Mr. HANDLER. We have the decisions of the Board.
The CHAIRMAN. We have asked for a number of cases already. Now we would like to have the decisions, whether or not there was a settlement made, and just briefly what it was. Is that right, Senator Davis?
Senator Davis. That is right.
Mr. HANDLER. I might state the decisions of the Board are now in the hands of the Public Printer and they are going to be published in a volume.
Senator Davis. If they are it is not necessary to put in here.
Mr. HANDLER. The Board also has a compact administrative staff which has been set up to supervise the work of the regional boards, to control the field work, prepare the hearings before the full Board, to conduct research and advise the Board on the legal phases of the problems that are presented to it, and to supervise the compliance with the Board's rulings.
Now, while the Board was initially designed to mediate industrial disputes, it has served as a board of arbitration in cases where joint submissions were voluntarily made to the Board, and in the course of time it took on a new function, namely the enforcement of section 7 (a) of the Recovery Act.
Now, the strength and the weaknesses of the present Board can be illustrated by an illustration of the way in which a typical case has been handled by the Board, if the members of the committee would be interested in my doing so.
The CHAIRMAN. We would be pleased to have you.
Mr. HANDLER. Relying upon the provisions of section 7 (a) of the act, the workers in a plant form their organization. Upon refusal of the employer to recognize
The Chairman. You are giving a specific case now?
The CHAIRMAN. Very good. Mr. HANDLER. Upon refusal of the employer to deal with the officials of a union a strike is called. Now as soon as the board learns of the strike it sends a mediator to the field to adjust the dispute, if that be possible. If he fails, the parties are then summoned to appear before the full Board, which is either a regional board or the National Labor Board, depending upon the importance of the case. Strikes have generally been settled along the following lines, after full hearing by the Board: An agreement is made between the parties to the dispute and the Board and it provides typically for the following: First, the strike is called off and the workers are reinstated without discrimination; an election is held to determine who shall represent the workers and to settle this disputed question of the authority of the officials of the union to represent the workers. The employer agrees to bargain collectively with the representatives selected at this election held under the board's supervision and the parties agree to submit all their differences which cannot be settled by negotiation either to a board of arbitration or to the National Labor Board or the regional labor board for final decision. Now in this way the board developed the election by secret ballot under governmental supervision as the administrative device under section 7 (a) for determining the representatives of the employees.
Now the procedure, as you will observe, has been entirely voluntary. In the great bulk of the cases before the board this method has been eminentlysuccessful. The mediators have settled on just and equitable terms innumerable strikes in the field, and the mere existence of this administrative machinery, the local and national boards, has been responsible for the averting of countless disputes.
Now, difficulty has arisen where the parties have refused to appear before the Board, where the terms of settlement proposed by the Board have been rejected, where the employers have refused to furnish the Board with their payrolls and the cooperation which is essential if a fair and reliable election is to be held, and finally, where the hearings disclosed violations of the statute. In the last instance the lack of power on the part of the Board to enforce its decision, and its inadequate facilities for the detection of violations, have made it difficult to enforce the law with desirable vigor and promptness.
Now, these difficulties are explicitly dealt with by the present bill. One of the major purposes of the bill is to provide the necessary machinery for the amicable adjustment of labor disputes. The mediation powers of the Board are continued, and, in my opinion, very properly so. Mediation is most successful when undertaken by a single individual. For this reason it is contemplated, under the bill, in continuation of our past practice, of having an experienced staff of mediators for field work. But where such mediation fails, and it does fail in many cases, unless there is to be a continuation of strife, it is imperative that there be some agency with adequate prestige to intervene in the interest of the public, and to bring about a peaceful settlement. It is for that reason that I urge that the bill remain the mediation functions of the present Board.
I can illustrate the importance of the mediation function by referring to a case which is pending before the board today. A serious dispute is pending in the automobile industry. A single mediator, either of our Board or a conciliator of the Department of Labor, is powerless to handle a dispute of such magnitude. Now we send in every case an individual into the field, a man who is trained in industrial relations and who, in the overwhelming majority of the cases, is able to effect settlement. But there must be some agency of the Government to which resort can be had where the single individual, the mediator or conciliator, fails, and unless this board is given that mediation power there will be no agency to handle a dispute which cannot be settled by a mediator. Without granting those functions to this board, the result would be that such disputes would remain unsettled until the parties were worn out by their strife or until one had prevailed over the other as a result of brute strength.
I might add that the main function of this Board and the real reason for its establishment was to compose those differences that were threatening the recovery program, to settle that multitude of strikes that occurred during the summer, disputes which the mediators and conciliators were unable to settle themselves.
Now, a national board, commanding public respect, can, by, reason of its high office and detachment, inquire into the facts and propose an equitable basis of settlement, and informed public opinion is all that is necessary to enforce its decisions. Such a board must be composed of several impartial representatives of the public, in order that it possess the disinterestedness essential to conimand public respect.
Now, the bipartisan aspect of the Board, with a representation of labor and industry, is chiefly valuable in the peaceful settlement of disputes, in the exercise of the mediation functions of the board. When it comes to the purely judicial work of the Board, where you are inquiring into questions of law violation, obviously the value of the layman is somewhat diminished. They contribute greatly to an understanding of the problem, but you must have a corps of disinterested public representatives who are competent by training and experience to handle questions of law and judicial problems that arise in such cases.
The CHAIRMAN. That is a good distinction. I suppose that is the reason for constituting the board as suggested?
Mr. HANDLER. Yes. Experience has demonstrated that the power of subpena is essential in order to bring recalcitrant parties before the board. Otherwise the aims of the statute can be frustrated in the very cases requiring the intervention of a disinterested and responsible agency of the Government.
I should like to expand that, if I may. Where you get a very serious industrial dispute, where feeling runs very high, and where there is considerable bitterness, the man who goes out in the field is unable to bring the parties together. Now without the power of subpena, the board has found that in such cases, where intervention is imperative and necessary in the public interest, one of the parties would fail to respond to its invitation to appear before the board, to permit the board to furnish its good offices in the settlement of that dispute. Now, to my mind it is imperative that the board have the power of subpena in such cases, to call the parties together for a free and frank discussion of the difficulties. There is no compulsion whatsoever about such a procedure. The only compulsion is to have them come down and sit around the table and discuss their difficulties in the presence of a governmental body.