Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

meeting with their representatives when you state there were no representatives for them to meet with.

Mr. THOMPSON. The picture I will try to complete for you is this

The CHAIRMAN. Here I am running an industry and all of a sudden I hear about the men organizing, and then all of a sudden the men walk out and they claim it is because I have refused to meet and negotiate with them or their representatives in collective bargaining. You say all the employers state there was no organization for them to meet with. I cannot quite see how men could be induced to leave their work unless there had been some attempt made to reach their employers. Perhaps the employers did not think they represented a majority of their employees.

Mr. THOMPSON. I will answer that this way first and then proceed with the detail of the answer. We have had one illustration in that city where the demands were served after the walkout, and in that particular instance

The CHAIRMAN. I think I can understand that possibility.

Mr. THOMPSON. In that particular instance, Senator, there were 21 employees out of 300 who walked out, but 1,200 persons massed around that plant the following day and succeeded in blocking traffic and preventing the balance of the employees, 80 percent of whom were loyal and desired to return to work, from going into a great extent.

The CHAIRMAN. How many strikes have there been in these different plants?

Mr. THOMPSON. There have been six strikes since October, 1933.
The CHAIRMAN. What is the total number of plants in Racine?
Mr. THOMPSON. Our chamber of commerce lists 180.
The CHAIRMAN. I mean substantial plants.
Mr. THOMPSON. I would say 50.

The CHAIRMAN. Of course, chambers of commerce list plants where they employ 5 or 10 people.

Mr. THOMPSON. I will divide that by three.

The CHAIRMAN. Were these plants all manufacturing the same commodity?

Mr. THOMPSON. Oh, no.
The CHAIRMAN. Different lines of business?
Mr. THOMPSON. Yes; varied.

The CHAIRMAN. Very good. Were the bases of all of them thought by the employers to be movements among trade union leaders to organize them into trade unions?

Mr. THOMPSON. Precisely. There is one strike that I understand we had high hopes of settling as I was leaving on Friday. Yesterday I was told that 1 plant of the 3, owned by 1 employer—they are located, by the way, in 3 different cities, Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha-Dr. Wolman was there with his board, and they negotiated for 2 or 3 days with the representatives of the union, and with the management, and they arrived at a basis of settlement that was accepted by those in negotiation, but with the condition that that agreement must be ratified by each of the locals, separated, you understand, in 3 different cities, and with the further understanding that if the Milwaukee local did not ratify, for instance, that the employees on strike in the other 2 cities could not go back to work. Now, then, we come directly to the bill (S. 2926) purporting to clarify and fortify section 7 (a).

Before going directly to the bill itself, I would like to make this statement, That business is not a rugged rock of Gibraltar impervious to attack. On the contrary, it is sensitive. It is sensitive, not only to the stock market, but it is particularly sensitive to this industrial relations aspect and the management of industry is worried, harried, and perplexed.

I have in mind a certain man in industry, and I know the background of the man to whom I refer, a man in an adjoining city, a manufacturer, who went through an exceedingly bitter strike in 1928. The boys who struck were young men of that city who came to work in that plant and built themselves up. The strike dragged on for 3 or 4 months and they finally settled the affair peaceably, made their peace with the employers, and they returned to work. He has gone through this depression, 3% or 4 years of it, and a few days ago a committee of the employees walked in again with a new organization, I understand, and out of the clear sky set before him an ultimatum as to what they were going to have or else.

That man died the other day, and I am just as sure as I can be personally that it was just too much for the man's heart. He was à pretty decent citizen and he had done things for the city in which he lived. There are a lot more people in the same boat.

Now, in introducing his bill, Senator Wagner said, and I am referring now to the Congressional Record, volume 78, no. 46, page 325:

The bill I am introducing is designed to clarify and fortify the provisions of Section 7 (a) and to provide a means of administering them with adequate enforcement powers.

The bill, if it does nothing else, clarifies and it certainly fortifies.

Now, to me, the text of this bill makes the whole business as clear to industry as that touching scene in Little Red Riding Hood when the wolf answers the plaintive query, "What big, teeth you have, grandma”, with, “The better to eat you, my dear."

In the next paragraph, the Senator uses the word "cooperation." There has been a great deal of misuse of this pet word. In less academic circles cooperation is understood to mean concerted, coordinated action arising from a common or mutual understanding toward a common purpose or end. Anything short of this is not cooperation, but it may be coercion.

First. This bill is destructive of the very things it allegedly seeks to preserve and advance. It cripples, if not totally destroys, American industry as such. It does this by driving a wedge between employee and employer, by establishing a bureaucratic despotism and by legalizing class consciousness based on the Marxian principle of traditional enmity between the employer and the employee.

Second. The proposed bill virtually repeals the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution wherein it is declared that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist within the United States. It does this by creating a monopolistic controlling union organization to which individual workers must surrender and pay tribute if they are to retain their employment. Whenever a group, minority or otherwise, whether in the employment relationship or otherwise, is placed in a position where it must surrender its legal rights and

46652—34PT 3—21

On page

*

*

constitutional rights, we have nothing more or less than slavery in fact.

Reference is again made to the Congressional Record, volume 78, no. 46, Senate proceedings of Thursday, March 1, 1934. 3525 under the heading “Amendment of National Recovery ActNational Labor Board", Senator Wagner makes a preliminary statement and argument in favor of his bill before having it printed in full in the Record. Senator Wagner presents himself as an advocate of a peculiar kind of bargaining. He states along with other remarks:

No real advocate of collective bargaining would argue that a worker should be free to bargain individually

It were better that Senator Wagner placed his period after the word “free.” The principle here involved then would be perfectly clear and undisguised.

With complete union domination no individual, unless subservient to the rules and whims of the dictators of the organization, could hope to have and hold a job as a free citizen. Further, it would be well within the power of the labor despots to inflict organizational excommunication on an individual workman and prevent his employment wherever he went in a fruitless and pathetic search for the opportunity to earn a living for himself and family. This in spite of the fact that the victim might otherwise” be a law-abiding, respectable individual and accomplished artisan.

The forcible unionization of every American workman as contemplated by this bill would produce this state of affairs.

Third. Second only to the Czaristic powers conferred on the union organization would be the bureaucratic autocracy of the National Labor Board as conceived in this bill. Between the upper and nether millstones of this labor machine the last vestige of freedom of contract and industrial and economic liberty would be ground to dust and obliterated. In determining who shall be fed into the hopper of this mill it should be borne in mind

that all the unfair practices listed refer exclusively to the employer. The union is recorded as being without sin and hence is invested with the unrestricted and ancient right of kings who could do no wrong:

Fourth. Exclusive of the direct bludgeoning of industry by the bill there is another impact on American Government to which the Congress should not close its eyes. Passage of this act will inevitably create a supergovernment dictated by those who will attain that power in the exclusive union organization which they will control. From a practical standpoint, the Members of Congress will be equally hamstrung by a vast and powerful lobby of affiliated unions whose coffers would be swelled by dues to the point where any expense would be to them trivial and where opposition to the union viewpoint would mcan political extinction for the individual member having the temerity to voice such views. A rubber stamp bearing the union label would be all the equipment required by a Member of Congress. It would be the only equipment he could safely use.

Fifth. While every fair-minded person must be heartily in accord with the elimination of labor disputes and the settlement of such controversies, I am unable to see any justice in a measure which effectually strangles one party to the dispute, and which must ultimately result in the forcible unionization of every American workingman. It seems to me that we should analyze most carefully the measure by which this program is to be accomplished.

Sixth. The act purports to be a means of equalizing the bargaining power between the individual employer and the individual employee. As a matter of fact, its exact purpose is to tip the scales entirely the other way, and it will ultimately place the power to make every industrial contract in the United States within the hands of the National Labor Board, an appointed body, subject to the political view of whatever party may be in power. That is to say, the National Labor Board will have the power to review every industrial contract, and it apparently can alter or amend the same as it sees fit. It is difficult to see any remaining vestige of the right to freedom of contract guaranteed under the fifth amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

Seventh. Subsection (2) of section 3 defines an employer as a person who has one or more employees. Thus, the measure is extended to every farmer in the State of Wisconsin who has a hired man or any domestic help, and he is subject to all the drastic provisions and penalties of the act. I can well sense the difficulty which farmers will have in understanding the purpose of this act. I appreciate, of course, that the act ostensibly is based upon principles of interstate commerce but, if constitutional at all, it may well be extended to a farmer growing crops with the ultimate view of disposing of the same in an interstate transaction.

Eighth. Subsection (3) of section 3 provides that any man replacing a striking employee at once loses his status as an employee under the provisions of the act. This is regardless of whether or not the strike may be a just or unjust strike, and is based upon the principle which seems to permeate the entire bill to the effect that the employer is always wrong and the employee always right.

Subsection (5) of section 3 defines a "labor organization" as any organization in which the employees participate to any degree whatsoever. That is to say, the participation and right of the individual employee in the particular organization may be limited to little or nothing and still that organization will have the exclusive power to deal for the employee. Subsection (6) of section 5 specifically permits discrimination in favor of union employees as against nonunion employees and expressly permits the employer and the labor organization to deny any employee his right to make his own contract in the event the employer and the labor union so agree. Personally, I am not willing to confess that the fundamental constitutional principle of freedom of contract under which this country has developed to the most powerful nation on the globe should be scrapped. That is to say, we cannot assist in recovery by suspending or emasculating constitutional principles which, after all, have their foundation in human right.

Ninth. You have no doubt observed with interest the procedural provisions of the bill and the legal effect given to the orders and decrees of the board. Under subsection (b) of section 205, a hearing may be set 24 hours after the service of the complaint. In other words, the person complained against may have not more than 24 hours to prepare his case for trial. By the same section a complaint may be amended at any time without notice and the original complaint shall not be regarded as limiting the scope of the inquiry.

In other words, the person complained against may be called upon to meet charges of which he has no notice. By specific provision the rules of evidence do not apply in hearings before the board. Notwithstanding this utter lack of conformity in judicial procedure, the order or decree of the board is given the full effect of a judgment of a court of law or decree of a court of equity. Subsections (d) and (e) provide for method of review and expressly limit the function of the appropriate district court or Supreme Court of the District of Columbia to findings which are unsupported by the evidence. Inasmuch as there are no rules of evidence in proceedings before the board, it is difficult to see how there can ever be any effective review. Appeal from the district court is expressly limited by the certiorari provisions of the Judicial Code. In connection with this, it is interesting to note that where the appeal is taken by a person aggrieved by the order, the petition for review must be filed within 10 days after the entry of such order. Thus, the right of appeal may be precluded in the event the party does not have notice of the entry of the order.

It is furthermore provided that no objection to the order may be raised in the district court which was not presented at the hearing. Inasmuch as there is no limitation to the scope of the inquiry before the board, the person aggrieved may have had no opportunity to object to provisions of the order.

Tenth: The bill as drawn is as defective as it is vicious. The complacent and utter disregard of the framers of this bill for the Constitution is evidenced by the last provision of the act which very naively abrogates any existing contract conflicting in any manner with the terms of the bill, and failure of the employer to notify the other party of the cancelation or abrogation of the contract is specifically made an offense. Thus, a new principle is added to the law, namely, that any person relying upon the constitutional prohibition against impairing the obligations of a contract may be punished.

Conclusion: There should be no room in the United States for this bill, either as it is, or in any amended form. It should be killed entirely and buried permanently.

Abraham Lincoln, who once had a modest part in national affairs, at one time told a story that illustrates a point in connection with this bill.

It seems there was a little two-by-four steamer with a half pint boiler that plied the Sangamon River. The skipper was an ambitious man, too, so he installed a whistle suitable to the Bremen. Everything was to his liking except when he blew the whistle the boat stopped.

This Wagner bill is the whistle which, if affixed to the ship of industry, not only will stop the boat but sink it.

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. Before we call the next speaker I have an announcement to make. Several members of the press have asked me with regard to General Johnson's appearance before this committtee this morning. Senator Wagner informed me on Friday that General Johnson would be here this morning at 10 o'clock. Senator Wagner's secretary is here in the room and informs me that General Johnson's office called Senator Wagner's office this morning, and his secretary or some assistant in his office said that General Johnson was out of town and they do not know whether or not he will appear before the committee. The committee has had no nego

« ForrigeFortsett »