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The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much. Mr. Boyd. Is Mr. Boyd here?
STATEMENT OF JOHN W. EDELMAN
(Statement of Mr. John W. Edelman is as follows:)
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF HOSIERY WORKERS,
March 27, 1934. Senator DAVID I. WALSH,
Washington, D.C. DEAR SENATOR Walsh: For many years now it has been a common occurrence to have employers bring puppet committees of workers before legislative bodies to testify against social legislation of one kind or another. Last year, when the 30-hour bill was up in Congress, southern manufacturers induced, either by some species of coercion or guile, many of tneir workers to write letters to Senators or Congressmen against the legislative proposal for a shorter work week. Since the passage of the N.R.A., we have had cases before labor boards where nonunion employees have been paid by their employers to protest decisions favoring union workers.
In Philadelphia today, I was informed by telephone that Mr. William Meyer, president of the Apex hosiery mills of this city, was forcing nis employees to send letters to their Senators and Congressmen asking that the Wagner bill should not be passed by Congress. It seems to me high time that the Senate should investigate cases of this kind, where employers have been using their economic power to force workers into action against their own interests and contrary to their real desires. This practice is at least as evil as forcing a man or woman to vote against their conscience at an election for local or national officials.
It is difficult for an agency which has no authority to obtain the real facts in a case such as I mention here. An obviously frightened, but indignant, hosiery worker called me on the telephone today and described what happened in the Apex mill. Posters had been placed around the plant setting forth arguments against the Wagner bill and instructing workers who wished to do something about the matter to report to the office to receive instructions as to what course to follow. Obviously, this was an invitation for every “sucker” in the mill to put himself in right with the management. The worker who will not volunteer to engage in the campaign against the Wagner bill obviously opens himself up to some form of discrimination.
According to my informant, on leaving the mill today each employee was given a form letter in a plain paper envelop and on plain paper addressed to Senator David S. Reed of this State in which the Senator was asked to vote against this measure. The employee was supposed to sign his name and address to this letter and mail it to Senator Reed who would then be in a position to give elaborate statistics about the “flood” of letters he has received in opposition to the bill which would give labor fair treatment in this country. The manufacturers (and probably Senator Reed) will
, of course, attempt to justify their action in a case of this kind by saying that the labor unions do the same sort of thing. There is, of course, ali the difference in the world between what labor unions do and what employers do in such matters. When a union representative is asked to help prepare statements for or against certain legislation, the workers of their own free will, and without dictation, have arrived at a decision and are acting in a thoroughly democratic manner. The employer who can hire or fire at will, as the proprietor of the Apex Hosiery Mills can and does, takes an unfair, undemocratic, and throughly reprehensible advantage of his position when he dictates the thinking and actions of his help in matters relative to social legislation or the like.
I would strongly urge that Mr. William Meyer of the Apex Hosiery Mills be called before a Senate committee and questioned as to the truth or lack of truth in this report I am now passing on to you.
Incidentally, we would not jump at conclusions in this case were it not for the fact that we know this manufacturer fairly well and can describe the methods by which he used the courts of this state in the past to prevent unions from approaching his workers. An injunction secured by the Apex Co. prohibited unionists coming within six blocks of this mill. Later, virtually all local hosiery union officials in Philadelphia were cited for contempt, charged with violating this injunction, and declared guilty. Judgments were placed against the homes of many union workers who as a result were unable to secure adjustments in their mortgages, and came within an ace of losing everything they have.
There is much more we could tell about the record of the Apex, but this is enough to indicate the situation. Hoping that you can take action in this matter, we remain, Sincerely yours,
JOHN W. EDELMAN, Research Director.
STATEMENT OF AXTELL J. BYLES, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN
The CHAIRMAN. I present for the record at this point statement of Axtell J. Byles, President, American Petroleum Institute, of New York City:
AMERICAN PETROLEUM INSTITUTE,
New York, N.Y., April 5, 1934. To the Committee on Education and Labor of the United States Senate:
GENTLEMEN: The executive committee of the board of directors of the American Petroleum Institute, a national trade association of individuals engaged in the petroleum and allied industries, hereby expresses opposition to the enactment of Senate bill 2926 (commonly referred to as the Wagner labor disputes bill) for the following reasons:
1. Despite its avowed declaration, the bill would not leave the individual employee or any minority group of employees free to choose the method of bargaining.
2. The bill is wrongly premised in that it will foster discord and dispute between labor and management, rather than further peaceful industrial relationship.
3. The bill proposes to direct by government fiat the type of labor union or organization which may exist, thereby in effect creating a labor monopoly without authority in the Government to regulate such a monopoly and compel observance of fair practices. Such a system once establlshed would inevitably lead to further encroachment upon what are now recognized as the inherent rights of labor.
4. Section 5 makes it an unfair labor practice for an employer in any way to restrain, supervise, or influence employees in their steps leading to organization, while paragraph 6 of this section provides:
That nothing in this Act shall preclude an employer and a labor organization from agreeing that a person seeking employment shall be required, as a condition of employment, to join such labor organization, if no attempt is made to influence such labor organization by any unfair labor practice, if such labor organization is composed of at least a majority of such employer's employees, and if the said agreement does not cover a period in excess of one year.'
The first five paragraphs of section 5 proclaim the duty of employers to withhold all influence over labor organizations; paragraph 6 abandons any pretense of securing the liberty of the employee and permits the employer to agree with the labor union to compel the minority to join the union. For freedom to contract there has been substituted compulsion to join a labor organization, and the employer, while restrained from advising his employees, is empowered to compel them even against their will to pay dues to a labor union and make it their only contact with their employer whether they like it or not.
5. The bill confers upon a National Labor Board and its agents drastic, unwarranted and probably unconstitutional powers. As it stands, the bill is primarily framed to confer rights and power not upon American labor but upon the National Labor Board and upon labor organizers.
6. The bill abrogates existing contracts between employer and employees without regard to their merit or benefit to either or both parties to the contract.
7. The effect and probable intent of the bill is to destroy what is known as "employee representation plans," many of which have existed satisfactorily to workers in the petroleum industry for a long period of time.
We believe that the President, in his settlement of the recent automotive industry situation in Detroit has written for American labor and employers
alike the essence of any desirable labor legislation pertaining to collective bargaining. Respectfully submitted.
LETNER T. BYLES,
President American Petroleum Institute. The CHAIRMAN. Are there any other witnesses? The committee stands adjourned until Monday morning at 10 o'clock.
(Thereupon, at the hour of 3:45 p.m., the committee adjourned until Monday, Apr. 9, 1934, at 10 a.m.)
TO CREATE A NATIONAL LABOR BOARD
MONDAY, APRIL 9, 1934
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washingion, D.C. The committee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10 a.m., in room 318, Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. Senator David I. Walsh (chairman) presiding.
Present: Senators Walsh (chairman), Copeland, Murphy, Thomas, Metcalf, and Davis.
Senator Davis (temporarily presiding). The committee will come to order, please. Mr. Young .
STATEMENT OF GEORGE W. YOUNG
Senator Davis. Mr. Young, you are president of the Chicago Chamber of Commerce?
Mr. Young. Chicago Association of Commerce.
Senator Davis. Will you give your name, and your address, and your occupation, please?
Mr. Young. George W. Young, 222 North Bank Drive, Chicago, care of Marshall Field & Co.
Senator Davis. You are here in opposition to the bill?
Mr. YOUNG. Mr. Chairman and members of the Senate Committee on Education and Labor. Your witness is George W. Young, president of the Chicago Association of Commerce.
As president of the Chicago Association of Commerce, I have been delegated to appear and present an official protest against the labor disputes bill (S. 2926) introduced by Senator Wagner, and a companion measure in the House introduced by Representative Connery (H.R. 8423).
Before doing so, may I qualify the Chicago Association of Commerce for having a viewpoint it believes representative on this proposed legislation.
As you know, Chicago is the second city in the Nation from a population standpoint, having 3,376,438 people in 1930, according to the official Government census of that year.
From whatever standpoint we consider Chicago-industry, commerce, transportation, education, or art—it occupies a position of outstanding importance.
Within its metropolitan area, a radius of 35 miles, 7.3 percent in value of the Nation's manufactured products are produced, 4.35 percent of the Nation's industrial workers are employed, and 6.9 percent of industrial wages are paid.
Chicago's retail trade normally exceeds $2,000,000,000 a year in volume, and its wholesale trade $5,000,000,000 a year. The nationwide census of distribution of 1930 disclosed Chicago wholesale houses doing 772 percent of the country's total wholesale business.
The Chicago Association of Commerce represents some 4,500 commercial, industrial, financial, and professional interests in its membership. Because of the far-flung activities of our leading industrial and commercial concerns, it represents an area and influence much larger than the city of Chicago alone.
These business leaders are associated together to advance the best interests—civic, commercial, and otherwise, of the city of Chicago, and to promote trade, industry, and the public good.
I would like to emphasize that in arriving at a viewpoint upon a matter of public policy, the association does not take hurried action, nor permit subsidiary committees to make their findings public or to bind the association.
Through 39 standing committees and 58 trade and professional group committees, all questions affecting the public welfare, the interests of business, or the advancement of our community are carefully considered and appraised.
The conclusions of committees with their recommendations are forwarded to our executive committee where they are again analyzed and either approved or disapproved. If approved, they become the official position of the association.
Thus, the proposed labor disputes act, now the subject of hearing before your committee, was studied by our industrial development committee in response to wide-spread demands from our membership. The report of our industrial development committee was discussed in detail by our executive committee and with some modifications adopted.
For the purpose of saving your time and insuring that I accurately present our viewpoint, I will read the report. In doing so may I state that I am not a lawyer and in consequence not prepared to discuss the legal phases and implications of this proposed legislation. While lawyers in our membership have approved the conclusions reached, the report itself represents the work of business executives, of which I trust you will consider me as an example. [Reading:]
REPORT OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE, THE Chicago AssociaTION OF
COMMERCE S. 2926, and H.R. 8423, bears the misleading title, “A bill to equalize the bargaining power of employers and employees, to encourage the amicable settlement of disputes between employers and employees, to create a National Labor Board, and for other purposes. As a matter of fact, the effect of the bill as readily noted from a reading of its provisions is to handicap employers in dealing with their employees and to encourage rather than adjust disputes between them.
More properly the measure could be termed, “A bill to unionize all business and industrial establishments", since it gives the National Labor Board and its regional labor boards and agents unrestricted power to declare as unfair labor practices nearly every act of an employer in his relations with employees.
It would abolish company unions, legalize and insure the closed shop throughout business and industry, and impose severe penalties for violation of any of its terms. Once passed, it would forever remove the last vestige of control an employer possesses over his labor costs, and in large part over the management of his business. It would create a labor party stronger in power and influence than either of the existing political parties. It would impose the will of approximately 10 percent upon 90 percent of the Nation's employees.