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on Education and Labor by the Industrial Management Council of the Rochester Chamber of Commerce.
This council was organized 17 years ago by leading manufacturers in this city of 333,000 population, to help them to learn and apply the best and latest methods and policies of management, by the adoption of ever-higher standards and intelligence to life management, to lift employee efficiency and earning power, to lift employee morale.
These 33 firms today employ more than 50 percent of Rochester manufacturing employees. Conditions of employment in their plants are good. Working hours for years have been shorter than in most centers; in 1928 and 1929, the average was 47.6 per week. Wages have been high. Real contentment has existed. There has not been an industrial dispute in any of these companies for years, and not a serious strike anywhere else in the city.
Members of this council had the leadership of a committee of the Rochester Chamber of Commerce which, working month after month, drafted a workmen's compensation bill which a year later became law in the State of New York, the first State in America to enact a workmen's compensation law.
The CHAIRMAN. What was the year you enacted the workmen's compensation law?
Mr. CROCKETT. 1914, if I remember correctly.
The CHAIRMAN. We had a workmen's compensation law in Massachusetts before that, and I think Wisconsin had one before we had one, so I think that may be a little inaccurate.
Mr. CROCKETT. We will not quarrel about that, Senator.
The CHAIRMAN. was governor in 1914, and I know we had a workmen's compensation act before I became governor.
Mr. CROCKETT. We can both check on our dates, Senator.
Mr. CROCKETT. Before the depression, Rochester manufacturers in this council had achieved an excellent degree of stabilization of employment in both seasonal and nonseasonal lines. When the facts of their stabilization were disclosed by survey, taken by request, they elicited the generous praise of Miss Frances Perkins, then industrial commissioner of the State and now Secretary of Labor in the Cabinet.
Later on, in response to appeals from Washington, Rochester Manufacturers suspended stabilization of employment and wholeheartedly went into "share-the-work.” On a check-up made in December 1932, among 51 concerns, 7,395 more persons were on pay rolls than would have been required on the firms' full time week of 44 to 48 hours, or on "no share-the-work."
In February 1931 desirous of assisting laid-off employees, 19 coinpanies from out this council instituted the Rochester unemployment benefit plan, effective January 1, 1933, and are said to be the first group of employers independent of one another to take such action. That step, too, was taken voluntarily in a time when employee conditions were most excellent. President Roosevelt, then Governor of the State, commended it in a statement to the public, beginning:
I am much interested in this because it in a way embodies one of the hopes of the recent Governors' Conference on Unemployment which was that in working out some kind of a reserve or insurance, more private companies would work out their own plans.
Public approval of this unemployment benefit plan and its adopters also was given by the present Governor of the State, Herbert H. Lehman, and by Miss Frances Perkins.
These Rochester manufacturers in the Industrial Management Council have tried faithfully to go along with the national recovery program, in accordance with the spirit as well as letter of N.R.A. By and large, they have succeeded.
Scrutiny of the N.R.A. survey returns from Rochester, as reported to Washington in October 1933 shows that practically every manufacturer in the city was signed up. Not a single important company was missing. The percentage of all employers signed was 93.6, the unsigned being little employers bewildered and uncertain as to how to adapt themselves to P.R.A. Concerns can be named that have gone beyond the letter of the agreement in their desire to assist the recovery program.
Those Rochester manufacturers applaud many good things in N.R.A. They are set against unfair practice and unfair competition. They have no sympathy with any individual or concern that fails to deal fairly with employees under all conditions and is not generous in times of plenty. Anything within reason that would correct chiseling and exploitation and promote fair practice, they would be for, in self-protection as well as in the public interest.
THE WAGNER BILL
The foregoing statement has been made to make clear that Rochester manufacturers in the Industrial Management Council would give instant and hopeful consideration and study to any important proposal directly affecting industry and the Nation, from N.R.A. or from these intimately connected with N.R.A.
And also to suggest to the Committee on Education and Labor that these Rochester manufacturers in reading the Wagner Senate bill to create a National Labor Board would examine it with particular attention to what its probable effects would be on the excellent employee relationships existing for so many years among the present 30,000 or more employees in their plants.
On reading it, it is natural that they asked of themselves:
(a) Would this bill, if enacted, help to maintain the friendly relationship existing between their employees and themselves?
(b) Would it improve and strengthen that relationship? Would it inevitably provoke suspicion, bad feeling, unreasonable demands, and in the end lead to trouble?
Every answer they got, no matter how closely they studied the text, was against the Wagner bill, because, as they saw it, it would take away and destroy what these Rochester manufacturers have prized and nurtured over so many years—the right to deal intimately and directly with their employees, to discuss with them, as occasion arises, any subject of mutual interest affecting the business and their relationships, the right to help their employees as fellow workers.
To see these rights turned over to outside labor leaders, most likely with no knowledge of the business, and not necessarily acquainted with the employees but given authority to make and enforce unreasonable and destructive demands is not only alarming to these manufacturers but to their mind not in the public interest. They believe it would be equally alarming to employees, to customers, and the general public if fully understood. They can conceive of no greater obstacle to recovery than the condition which inevitably would arise if this Wagner bill became law.
UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE
Here are some items in the Wagner bill which disturb these Rochester manufacturers—and they think their record entitles them to speak:
1. They do not accept it as true or consistent with conditions in Rochester and many other communities that the individual unorganized worker is, as the Wagner bill preamble says he is, “helpless to exercise actual liberty of contract to secure a just reward for his services, or to preserve a decent standard of living."
2. Definite unfair labor practices, forbidden to the employer, would not be forbidden to the employee or to organized labor. Labor organizations are specifically exempted.
3. A worker who replaces a striking employee (sec. 3, no. 3) is not an employee-even though the strike is unjustified and so be held by the National Labor Board.
4. The employer may be required to hire and keep only union employees (secs. 5 and 6) and at the same time he must not encourage membership in any organization (sec. 5, no. 1).
5. The employer must not advise or supervise an election of his employees (sec. 5, no. 3). But a labor organization or organizer may come in and advise, influence, and even coerce employees in such election-and the employer's hands would be tied.
6. When the National Labor Board, at request of either party, serves as arbitrator (sec. 206), its decision is final, subject to one appeal. That is, final to the employer. Employees, if decision is against them, can strike, because nothing in the act is to be construed so as to interfere, impede, or in any way diminish the right to strike (sec. 303).
7. The employer is forbidden (sec. 5) to "influence or favor any organization of employees, even those organized for mutual aid and protection” (sec. 4). Thus contributions by the employer to employee mutual-benefit associations, common in Rochester, to pay sick benefits and funeral expenses, would be outlawed. Revenues from employee garages, candy counters, and the like, operated by the company, could not be turned over to these associations, as frequently has been done since the depression depleted their funds.
8. Under section 205–D, on vague information or little more than surmise, a representative of the National Labor Board could issue a complaint against an employer.
Twenty-four hours later, at any place he pleased, hearing could be held.
He could exercise his authority to obtain information from this employer's reports to the Census Board or Internal Revenue Office. At any time, as a result of this hunt, he could change the complaint.
In other words, it would easily be possible to convict an employer of a charge to which he has had no opportunity to prepare an adequate defense.
9. The bill sets up two bureaus with duplicate purposes and authorities--the National Labor Board (sec. 206) and the Conciliation Service (sec. 302), each authorized to offer its services to any party in a labor dispute. Further than this, both bureaus are placed outside the civil service.
This bill violates all principles of conciliation in forbidding any relations between the employer and his employees. How could we hope for friendly relations when any relations whatsoever are forbidden? The whole policy of setting up a fence between the employer and employee is wrong.
Company unions, employee representation or trade unionism have not been widely adopted in the manufacturing plants of Rochester. This condition may truly be attributed to employee satisfaction over many years of good and ever improving working conditions, to short hours and good wage scale, to employee confidence in management and supervision, and to a high type, intelligent class of employees.
These Rochester manufacturers do not want this mutually satisfactory relationship destroyed-to see a few employees, perhaps acting under outside instigation or incentive, stage a "dispute" bring in a representative if the National Labor Board, have him hold an election and inform the company that the representatives of its employees hereafter shall be a certain labor union. They see no reason why such things should ever be done in such a community as Rochester and they do not assume that Rochester is a mere oasis of good conditions of employment and of good employee relationship. They believe the country has many such communities. They believe their situation is truly typical of actual conditions among the many millions of workers who, by choice and preference, have not joined any union and do not want any union restrictions and domination.
These Rochester manufacturers have faithfully conformed to N.R.A.; they have not hesitated, in conforming to go beyond the letter of the President's agreement and the codes. They recognize many excellent results for which N.R.A. has been responsible and the constructive part N.R.A. has had in assisting the country to win back prosperity. They applaud its correction of faults, reforms it has instituted, better practices it has brought about. It would be contrary to their record of many years if they stood against anything that would be wholesomely progressive and in the best interests of their employees, their community, and the public. It would be contrary to their record if they advocated anything that would not aid in the perpetuation of every sane advance made in this battle against the depression. They do not want the Labor Board to be without ample authority to administer and correct-on hours of labor, minimum wage, and fair competition. But they do object with all vigor against having it built up through law into a powerful, autocratic membership-campaign organization.
They would warn, with all respect and sincerity, against any legislation or act which might set recovery back indefinitely, when so many factors are working for recovery and so many evidences exist that they are succeeding.
Appended to this statement, Mr. Chairman, is a list of these companies and the codes under which they are operating, which I will submit for the record as follows:
The companies (members of the Industrial Management Council) with type of product and code:
American Laundry Machinery Co., laundry and dry-cleaning machinery.
Symington Cos., steel casting, malleable iron, railroad equipment.
Yawman & Erbe Manufacturing Co., business furniture, storage equipment, and filing supply.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Crockett.
Mr. CROCKETT. We will be glad to present each member of the committee with a copy of this statement, Senator.
The CHAIRMAN. The record will have your full statement.
STATEMENT OF A. P. MOWITZ
The CHAIRMAN. You are representing here the Full Fashioned Hosiery Association, Inc., of 1420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia?
Mr. Mowitz. That is right, sir. The CHAIRMAN. You are an attorney at law? Mr. Mowitz. Yes, sir. The CHAIRMAN. Residing in Philadelphia? Mr. Mowitz. Yes, sir. The CHAIRMAN. And you desire to be heard in connection with this bill?
Mr. Mowitz. For just 5 minutes.
The CHAIRMAN. That is all we can give you. Will you proceed for just 5 minutes?