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Mr. Mowitz. Mr. Chairman, I simply want to say this, and I not only speak as counsel, but I believe I am organizer of the Full Fashioned Hosiery Association which comprises about 100 mills employing between 25,000 and 30,000 men and women.
The CHAIRMAN. All located in the vicinity of Philadelphia?
Mr. Mowitz. They were all what is known as “open shop" until the advent of the N.R.A.
The CHAIRMAN. Since then what has been the status?
Mr. Mowitz. Since then they have operated to the fullest extent as the employees desired. Some have shop organizations, like the Apex Hosiery Co., which employs about 3,000, have had for many years a sort of a representative organization in their mills whereby the employees had a means of expression. Others did not do that and they just went on. The organizations were built very largely for the purpose of inaugurating and taking in both employer and employee in that sort of a system by improving the industrial relations in the plants. This organization is directed entirely toward the industrial relations between employer and employee.
Our aim is to elevate the wages, which we have done, fixing standards which are fair, and I can say that in no instance are they below the organized union scale and, in a great many instances, in advance of them.
The CHAIRMAN. The members of your organization are opposed to this bill?
Mr. Mowitz. We are opposed to this bill because of its many objectionable features which we believe will undo a great deal of the good that has been done and will be done after the real principles that underlie section 7 (a) are fully understood by the employer and the employee alike.
I believe, like the gentleman who spoke here this morning-I believe it was Mr. Dennison—that one of the really fundamental defects in this bill is the unnatural forcing of organizations which heretofore in a great many instances have given no evidence of constructive leadership, and they are more feared than anything else, the possibility of giving them the dominance of industrial relationships is more feared than any other element in this situation.
Senator MURPHY. Were you present at the hearing yesterday? Mr. Mowitz. No, sir; I was not.
Senator MURPHY. It was stated yesterday that 7 (a) does not make it obligatory upon the employer to deal with the association of his employees.
Mr. Mowitz. That is what I meant when I said the education of the employee. I think when the employee is educated to the real intent of section 7 (a) he himself will enforce that. I think the averago employer, when he becomes educated will realize that the old order has passed and a new order is before us, and that an amicable approach from both ends to that new order is the best solution of this problem.
Senator MURPHY. That is the theory under which that provision of N.R.A. was adopted, doubtless, and Senator Wagner emphasized the fact yesterday that there has been this refusal to deal with associations of employees. Do you think there would be any in
justice imposed upon your industry if it were made obligatory upon employers, if that could be done legally, requiring them to deal with employees?
Mr. Mowitz. No; I do not.
Mr. Mowitz. Not if it is done under a system which will deal fairly with both sides of the situation.
The CHAIRMAN. And which will permit the employees to organize freely and without domination or influence from other outside labor unions or from their own employers?
Mr. Mowitz. That seems to be one of the difficulties of this discussion on this bill—what is dominance? One side considers that the encouragement, the good will of the employer toward an established organization, might be dominance, and that is one of the difficulties. I think that if that word can be truly understood by both sides, fairly understood, and made sensible and workable, I do not think you will find any trouble about the whole matter after this situation is fully understood.
Senator MURPHY. I think the reference is to the undercover agent of the employer influencing the employee.
Mr. Mowitz. We have not come in contact with that.
Senator MURPHY. And reporting to employers the employees who may not have been subservient.
Mr. Mowitz. I think that is a bad system, espionage. That is very bad in any situation.
Senator MURPHY. Our task, of course, is difficult because we do not want to set up an industrial absolutism on the one hand, or capitalistic absolutism on the other, but we do want a free man.
Mr. Mowitz. But the difficulty with this bill, Senator, is this: There are so many clauses in it in the first place, which are new; in the second place, they are ambiguous if they are not brutually frank. Take, for instance, the clause in the bill that provides although an employer has an understanding or agreement with a group of his employees it does not prevent him from making a different agreement with another group of employees. That is specifically provided for, that if a majority of his employees should subscribe to union principles, or a labor organization as they call it in the bill, that the employer can enter into an agreement with that group of employees and make membership in that organization a condition of employment as to the whole group. I have not yet found somebody who can tell me what the two things standing together mean. That is just an illustration of the things that aroused suspicion in the minds of the average layman when he reads that. I have not been able to explain it. Ι I may be dense, but nobody else has explained it to me.
Then you have that other clause where the board has the right to investigate the question of who is the representative elected by the employees of a plant and may designate that employee without the right of appeal and may order an election with secret ballot and prescribe the methods and the classification of employees and their qualifications to vote.
Then, superimposed upon that you have the clause in the Wagner bill to the effect that the word "employee" shall include anyone who has severed his relations with that employment by reason of a current industrial dispute, and, at the same time, they say that no one who has
been employed in the course of that industrial dispute shall be an employee.
Senator MURPHY. Of course, you must take this view of the bill, that it is something that has been set up for you to shoot at.
Mr. Mowitz. Of course.
Mr. Mowitz. Of course, I understand. I am afraid I have been shooting at it for a long time.
Senator MURPHY. And the purpose of these hearings is to develop all these points of view and then the wisdon and the sense of equity of men such as the chairman of this committee, Senator Walsh, will evaluate out of this testimony
Mr. Mowitz. May I say this, that my people have all subscribed to this idea? I was in this business myself, but unfortunately business was not so good. I have been in contact with this business in legal connections for many years and I have always maintained this principle in the industry, that when an employer came to me in regard to an industrial dispute the first question I would ask him was, "Let me see your pay roll and your working conditions”, because if they were right his cause was right, and if they were wrong, he would be licked because of economic conditions if the law did not do it for you.
I think most of them have come to a full realization of the fact that industrial justice is the real solution in all fairness.
The CHAIRMAN. Is Mr. Kiss here?
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Kiss, you and the other witness, Mr. Cush, have you prepared statements for the record? If so, we will be glad to have your statements go into the record. We have not time to hear them this morning because we are called to the Senate floor.
Mr. Kiss. Here is mine (handing).
MARCH 27, 1934.
STATEMENT SUBMITTED BY JOE Kiss, NATIONAL SECRETARY OF THE NATIONAL
FURNITURE WORKERS INDUSTRIAL UNION OF THE UNITED STATES Submitted to the United States Senatorial Committee on Labor, which is considering Senator Wagner's bill no. 2926. The following six points to be dealt with in this statement are:
1. National Industrial Recovery Act.
Mr. Chairman: Our organization comes before the Senate Committee on Labor with serious objection and protest against the passage of the proposed bill of Senator Robert F. Wagner, commonly called the "Magna Carta for American labor” now before your committee for consideration. NATIONAL RECOVERY ACT, THE
RAW DEAL FOR THE "FORGOTTEN AMERICAN
WORKERS" The United States now finds itself in the fifth consecutive year of crisis, the longest, deepest, and most destructive economic crisis in the history of the world. The main sufferers are the workers. The “new deal” is now more than a year old and it has proven to be a very "raw deal” for the workers.
Many American workers looked hopefully toward the greatly heralded National Recovery Act which was to bring about employment, lessen hours of labor, increase earnings and thus reestablish the purchasing power of the American people.
But we old trade unionists warned the workers even at that time that the National Recovery Act has but one purpose; that of lowering the living standard, decrease our meager purchasing power, in order that the bosses profits be maintained for only thus can they attempt to stabilize their shaking system. Stagger plans, furlough plans mean wage cuts to which a further wage reduction is added in the form of inflation. Our living standard has been vastly lowered, while on the other hand huge subsidies were given to the banks—the big trusts—were strengthened. This was followed up by the adoption of the National Recovery Act slave codes.
The outstanding action of the new deal was the National Recovery Act. This program intends to save big business at the expense of the workers. It was heralded by Miss Perkins, Mr. William Green, president of the American Federation of Labor, and by the President of the United States as the savior of the workers.
The workers realized in a short time that it was not their duty to further contribute to the upkeep of unemployment relief from their meager earnings, but that the responsibility lay with those who created this crisis. To be more explicit, the responsibility lay with those who own the productive forces, those who control the very life of this country; in other words, with big business.
The block-aid system proved a total failure and vanished quickly. Then we workers were told about the famous 90 days' return of prosperity by Mr. Hoover. Then came the forced stagger plan introduced by such firms as the General Electric Co. and others; and approved by Mr. Hoover and Mr. Green, putting the workers on a 1 to 3 days a week basis, accompanied by wholesale wage cuts, beating down the living, standard of the American workers to a point where no human being could possibly support his family decently.
Mr. William Green, John Lewis, McGrady, Berry, and other high officials of the American Federation of Labor were always in the forefront to endorse and support all of these solutions to the crisis which they considered were solutions both for labor and capital. During the past 4 years of the worst economic crisis, labor was told to wait; that there was still a hope left to change the administration from Republican to Democratic. The latter in its preelection campaign promised the American people a new deal, unemployment insurance and a radical change in the redistribution of the country's wealth, so that “no one shall go hungry, and no one shall be unemployed, and justice for all.”
A year has now passed and it has brought workers bitter experiences without building the promised road to recovery. But let us carefully examine just what has been accomplished by the National Recovery Act for the benefit of those who are mainly responsible for the condition in which the American people find themselves today.
In our industry, the furniture industry, a minimum scale of 30, 34, and 42 cents an hour was set which in many instances has become the maximum, especially in the South for the Negro and white workers. The North is no exception to this rule, however. At the last hearing of the National Recovery Administration, held before General Johnson, we placed into the records the figures of official Governmental statistics, showing us, that the average wage scale in Grand Rapids, Mich., was $13.57 in January 1934, or 3 cents below the 34-cent minimum as compared with the $14.73 average in December 1933.
On the other hand, the National Recovery Act has increased profits for the bosses, this is clearly shown by the table the National Recovery Administraion uses to gage its results (Federated Press, Mar. 3, 1934), according to the Labor Research Association of New York.
Thus, while February 1934, industrial production had reached the same level as the average for 1931, workers' earnings as indicated by pay rolls were 19.7 percent below the 1931 average.
Comparison of the indexes of February 1934 with those of February 1932 shows that industrial production was 14.8 percent less.
What this has meant in profits for the bosses is indicated by the National City Bank bulletin for March 1934 which reports that net profits of 810 industrial corporations engaged in various lines of industry and trade were $440,643,000 in 1933. This compares with a net deficit of $45,802,000 in 1932 for the same companies.
Comparing figures on employment, wages and the cost of living in December 1933 with those of June 1933 the New Republic, February 14, 1934, finds that:
"The net results of the National Recovery Act has been to decrease the real earnings of the average worker, even below the poverty level of last June."
Indicating the rising wave of workers' struggles against these National Recovery Administration wage cuts, Senator Wagner, in a report on National Labor Board problems, admitted:
“A growing complaint is reduced weekly earnings from the shorter work week under industrial codes. (N.R.A. release, Feb. 21, 1934.)
In San Antonio, Tex., where 10,000 to 15,000 workers are employed in pecan shelling, Maury Maverick, resident of San Antonio told National Labor Board, companies are paying as little as 4 cents an hour to women. Father Peter Wynheven, chairman of the New Orleans Regional Board, after visiting San Antonio, stated:
“Wages are too low, some persons are making only $3 a week, while the minimum scale under the President's plan is $12 a week. I never saw so much chiseling.'
Report of the Consumers' Advisory Board of the National Recovery Administration (New York Times, Mar. 5, 1934):
“The following industries have failed to increase mass purchasing power: Furniture, bituminous coal mining, knit goods, rayon,, men's shirts and collars, brick and tile, cement, paints and varnishes and glass.'
To crush the rising strike struggles of the workers against these slave codes which results in the lowering of our living standards, the National Recovery Act has set up the National Labor Board which has shamelessly broken strikes in the interests of steel, coal, automobile, furniture, and other companies.
In this task the National Recovery Administration had the close cooperation of the American Federation of Labor leadership in the person of Mr. Green, McGrady, Lewis, Berry, etc. The National Recovery Administration fostered the rapid growth of the company unions. Although the last official survey of company unions by the employers research agency, National Industrial Conference Board, showed only 313 different “employee representation" plans in force in this country in 1934, a study by "Pen and Hammer" labor research organization in cooperation with the Labor Research Association of New York shows at least twice that number—625. Nor is this by any means complete. According to the latter survey, nearly 5,000,000 w kers are covered by these plans as against a total of 1,263,000 found last year by the National Industrial Conference Board in its study called “Collective bargaining through employee representation." The National Recovery Act and related events have thus apparently increased coverage of company union schemes by almost 300 percent.
THE NATIONAL LABOR BOARD
We believe, that the existence of the National Labor Board of which Senator Wagner is the present chairman, is designed for the purpose of enforcing compulsory arbitration and to "prevent strikes.” This stated fact completely eliminates any possibility of exercising the so-called “right of collective bargain
The workers' only weapon against the bosses is the right to strike and picket. Actions of the National Labor Board and the regional labor boards have proven them to be strike-breaking organizations. Their intervention in strikes has resulted in workers being sent back to work without having won their demands. Their tactics have also encouraged the development and strengthening of company unions.
Let us examine the personnel of the National Labor Board, regional labor boards, etc., of whom are they composed? Primarily of big business men and of American Federation of Labor officials. Among the employer representatives are: