« ForrigeFortsett »
change of information and opinions between management and employees; to educate employees and executives to understand the viewpoint and problems of each other; to promote efficiency, economy, safety, and to strengthen morale.
Our plan of employees' representation, which has operated successfully from January 1920 to the present date, a period covering almost 15 years, is proof that it has encouraged the early settlement of disputes in the shop or department in which they originate. Differences that cannot be adjusted in this way may be taken up with standing committées composed of employees' representatives only, or at joint committee of employees' representatives and representatives of the management, and if complainant is not satisfied with the decision, same can be appealed to the president of the company, and then may be submitted to arbitration, and any discrimination can be carried to the State department of labor, which happens to be the department of labor of the State of Pennsylvania, or the secretary of the United States. Up to this time we have never had cause to appeal to the president of the company or the labor department.
Our opponents hold that since employees' representatives receive their regular wages while attending meetings their freedom of action is thereby limited. This is not true, as we have been representatives for these many years and therefore know the absolute freedom with which any representative can discuss any questions and push them to an equitable adjustment, with absolute freedom, and the committees can pass resolutions as they see fit.
Our meetings deal largely with wages, hours, working conditions, safety measures, sanitation, efficiency of operating methods, and similar matters for which work the employer would have to pay others if it were not handled by our representatives. Therefore, we think we are entitled to reimbursement for time lost at work in order to attend meetings or our representative duties.
In connection with that I will submit a personal earnings slip for time spent at one of our meetings.
The CHAIRMAN. That is the only compensation you receive as a representative?
Mr. Smith. That is the only compensation.
The CHAIRMAN. That is the amount of money that you would receive were you attending to your regular duties rather than in attendance upon the meeting of the representatives' council?
Mr. Smith. That payment is made on the basis of the average hourly earnings for the pay period. We pay 2 weeks and my average hourly tonnage rate for these 2 weeks is the rate I am paid.
The CHAIRMAN. How often do you meet?
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any other expenses connected with your organization?
Mr. Smith. The only other expenses connected with our body there are the election expenses..
The CHAIRMAN. Who pays those?
Mr. Smith. The company stands for the election expenses, making of ballot boxes, booths, printing of ballots, and the distribution of same.
Our plan of employees' representation provides machinery for handling grievances and complaints. The employee who feels that he is being unfairly treated has only himself to blame if his case is not investigated fully and impartially. In thousands of cases, wrongs have been redressed and incipient injustices have been corrected since the start of our 15 years of active service under the representative plan.
The nominations and elections of employees' representatives of the Bethlehem Steel Co. employees, Bethlehem, Pa., are conducted by the employees themselves in accordance with the rules and regulations prescribed by the employees' committee on rules.
We will also submit a list of the nominations and election return data, sample election poster, sample nomination and election ballots, poster showing nominees for election, certificate of election, percentage sheet, voters' list, rule book, rule-book data, a pension book, employment cards, employment record cards, a letter requesting work schedules, and a letter requesting the preparation of a voters list.
The CHAIRMAN. If your organization, or the members of your organization, the employees of the Bethlehem Steel Co., desire to change the form of their organization, for example, and join the American Federation of Labor or some other trade union, what would be the procedure?
Mr. Smith. We are open to do as we see fit. We are not tied down through any membership card or any promise or anything, and if the employees choose to affiliate with any other organization that is their privilege.
The CHAIRMAN. I asked you what would be the procedure? Would it not be to take advantage of the bylaws which were submitted to us yesterday, which permit a majority vote of the employees to terminate their organization?
Mr. Smith. We could at any time call the body and take that matter up.
The CHAIRMAN. That could be done, and then they could have another meeting and choose some other form of organization?
Mr. Smith. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. So, the first step would be to terminate by a majority vote the present organization?
Mr. SMITH. Yes, sir.
Mr. SMITH. The rules committee arranges the schedule of elections with the assistance of the officers of the general body of employees' representatives, and also appoints the tellers to their respective polls. The tellers are selected from among the representatives. No representative is allowed to act as teller in the unit or department which he represents. There is no interference, coercion, or restraint permitted in the elections and every employee has absolute freedom of choice as to voting, both in nominations and elections. No company supervisor or management representative is allowed to in any way take part in, for or against any candidates. We do not countenance any interference whatsoever.
The CHAIRMAN. From your observation, has that regulation been strictly adhered to?
Mr. SMITH. Absolutely.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you known of any efforts made, directly or indirectly, by the employers to influence these elections?
Mr. SMITH. We have had reports, but upon investigation we found them to be unfounded.
Among the various candidates, all the crafts are represented, as the 50 election units are divided in such manner as to insure a representative from all the different crafts for every 100 employees or major fraction thereof.
Our recent election, held during March, has shown conclusively that our fellow employees approve of the plan, inasmuch as our election returns show a 91.8 percent vote of total eligible voters. The number of eligible voters was 6,599, available voters on date of elections, March 19, 20, 1934, was 6,234, ballots cast was 5,987, of which 198 were void and 68 blanks; ballots recorded, 5,721. No record kept of those refusing to exercise their right of voting.
The percentage of available voters casting a proper legal ballot was 91.8 percent.
Somewhat over 600 employees have participated as representatives at some time or other, and were duly elected by their fellow employees of their certain unit or craft.
We object to the Wagner bill, S. 2926, or any other act that would have a feature included in it; similar to section 5, article III and IV of the Wagner bill, S. 2926.
Our objection to the pending Wagner bill is that it would prevent and eliminate the company from participation in our plan; also prohibit the company from compensating or reimbursing our representatives for time spent in meetings or for other representative duties. We feel that it would be an injustice to prevent or eliminate the company from participation on such grounds. Inasmuch as our plan of employees' representation provides no dues or assessments to be paid by the employees, and we have no funds to cover for meetings time, election expenses, and so forth. It is only fair to have the company participate and help out in this way in our plan.
We sincerely prefer to have the company take part in this active, worthwhile endeavor to promote that welcome cooperation essential to a tranquil industrial life. We feel that the company should have a perfect right to convene with us at stated or requested dates in order to debate, discuss and adjust the problems facing us, as the same are most vital and essential to both employee and employer.
The injection of a third or any outside party to displace as congenial a program as we now enjoy would be à most disastrous blunder, as it would have a tendency to upset the structure we have labored consistently to perfect to its present status and demonstrated worth.
Senator Davis. You, as representative of the workers in Bethlehem, have no contact with the workers in Sparrows Point, or the shipbuilding works at Quincy?
Mr. Smith. Senator Davis, I would say that directly with that body I do not. I do, however, in another activity. It happens that I also am the president of the Bethlehem Steel Co. fund.
The CHAIRMAN. Don't tell us you are a member of the Moose.
In that way I do get in contact with the representatives from all the eastern plants once a year, every February:
Do you wish to hear about the endeavors in regard to the back pay?
Senator Davis. Mr. Chairman, may I say to the representatives there that I am thoroughly familiar with this question of back pay of the Bethlehem workers that is due them because of the war. I believe that they are entitled_to it. While I was Secretary of Labor I had it up with the War Department and I think it was the Army officials who objected to the pay. I believe Secretary Weeks wanted to make the back payment, and we have had a bill or tw up in Congress. I recommended to the committee that the bill pass.
Mr. Smith. We had quite a controversy at that time in regard to it.
Senator Davis. You might put your information in the record.
Mr. Smith. We have a written statement of it; Mr. Werst would have gladly given you an oral statement if you wished to have it.
Senator Davis. I would suggest that you prepare a statement and then insert it in the record at this particular point.
Mr. SMITH. We will gladly do that, Senator Davis.
There are six representatives of the Fore River plant, Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Quincy, Mass. Will they step forward as their names are called? William G. McDermott? Charles Mackenzie? Ambrose Gorman? William Mullaney? Owen Cheverie? Edmond J. Saundeis? Are
all here? Mr. McDERMOTT. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. McDermott, you represent the full group, do you?
Mr. McDERMOTT. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. And you have a statement you would like to make to us in the name of all six of these representatives?
Mr. McDERMOTT. Yes, Senator. The CHAIRMAN. The other representatives have no statement they wish to present?
Mr. McDERMOTT. No.
The Chairman. What is your particular occupation?
Mr. McDERMOTT. Mr. Mullaney represents the pipe fitters, plumbers, and coppersmiths; Mr. MacKenzie represents the molders and the railroad division; Mr. Gorman represents the ship fitters, crane operators, and ship erectors; Mr. Cheverie represents the electricians, and Mr. Saundeis represents the mold loft, that is, the department that manufactures the molds for the construction of the ship.
The CHAIRMAN. Very well; how many employees are there in this company at Quincy?
Mr. McDERMOTT. Two thousand two hundred eligible under our plan as workmen.
The CHAIRMAN. Is the number of employees large or small?
Mr. McDERMOTT. Yes, our normal capacity, Senator, is about 4,000.
The CHAIRMAN. You all may be seated except Mr. McDermott. Mr. McDermott, what is the name of the organization at the ForeRiver plant of the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation?
Mr. McDERMOTT. The Employees' Representation Plan.
The CHAIRMAN. When did you last have an election of representatives?
Mr. McDERMOTT. Last March.
The CHAIRMAN. You are now, at the present time, chairman of this group of representatives from the various shops or the various divisions?
Mr. McDERMOTT. Yes, Senator.
The CHAIRMAN. How many representatives are there in the organization of which you are chairman?
Mr. McDERMOTT. Eighteen now. The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed with your statement. Mr. McDERMOTT. I am William G. McDermott, and as chairman of the employees' representation body, made up of 2,200 employees of the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Quincy, Mass., have been authorized by them to appear before this committee as their representative, to file protests on their behalf against the Wagner bill, S. 2926.
Our body opposes the Wagner bill for the following reasons::
First, the provisions of the bill are in absolute opposition to the plan under which we have operated for the past 11 years, and, in our opinion, it is a violation of section 7 (a) of the N.I.R.A., which states