« ForrigeFortsett »
STATEMENT OF MR. EDWARD F. MCGRADY, MEMBER LEGIS
LATIVE COMMITTEE, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR Mr. McGRADY. The American Federation of Labor for more than a generation has preached the importance of education as it affects the life of our Nation. We, perhaps more than anybody else, recognize how much this Nation has suffered through lack of education, because we come in direct contact with those who have suffered from it. Indirectly we have suffered also—those of us who have had the opportunities of getting some education.
The American Federation of Labor to-day gladly joins with all of the other forward-looking organizations of this Nation in asking you to pass favorably upon this bill. We believe there should be a department of education. We believe the secretary of that department ought to have a position in the President's Cabinet. Labor has a place in the Cabinet, as it should have; commerce has a place in the Cabinet; agriculture has a place in the Cabinet; and we place education, in importance, as second to none of those departments, and we believe education ought to be there represented.
Talking of the aliens who reach our shores, it has been well said that very few have "arrived in America." I believe that was the statement made by the President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, and we know it to be true. You listened the other day to a living example of the failure of education, when you had before you a lady and a gentleman, American by blood for generations, who did not have an opportunity of learning to read or to write their own language until after they had r ached the half-century mark. That example can be duplicated not by the hundreds but by the thousands of cases, perhaps by the tens of thousands of cases. And, certainly, we know that so far as the alien worker is concerned, in the great industrial centers of this Nation, the condition as far as Americanization is concerned, and as far as education is concerned, is deplorable, and it does not help America in any way and we believe that some means ought to be adopted, some method ought to be adopted, to change this condition of affairs in the Nation know of no better way than to establish a department of education and we give it our hearty approval.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. McGrady, will you tell us how the American Federation took action on this matter?
Mr. McGRADY. This action was taken by the American Federation of Labor at its convention. That convention was attended by approximately 1,100 delegates, and these 1,100 delegates spoke for and voted for approximately three and one-half million workers, men and women.
The CHAIRMAN. Was there any discussion of the bill; was the bill explained by anybody?
Mr. McGRADY. The bill was explained. We have somewhat the same system that you have here in Congress. Bills or resolutions are presented to the convention. The resolutions are then sent to the various appropriate committees and the committees invite everybody interested, either for or against, to appear and offer reasons why it should or should not pass. Then, after a vote is taken by the committee, it is reported to the full convention. There again å discussion takes place upon the floor of the convention, before a vote is taken, and this vote was unanimous.
Mr. WELSH. Mr. McGrady, your organization is particularly interested in Americanization work, is it not?
Mr. MoGRADY. Yes.
Mr. WELSH. I suppose that is the outstanding feature of this bill that would lead you to be in favor of it?
Mr. McGRADY. Well, better education is Americanization. I believe there are a great many people who would be better Americans if they first understood the American Government, and they can not understand the American Government unless they have education. Let me give you an example—a very vivid example. Shortly after the war was declared, I was drafted by the Government, part of my duties being to look out for the production of war materials, to see that the contractors who were getting out war materials would make their deliveries on time, so that the cartridges and guns would meet the boats at Hoboken to go across the water.
I received a call one evening, about half past 5, at my office, to go down to a hall on Neeland Street, Boston; that there was more or less of a riot there. When I got in I found a group of five or six hundred workers, women predominating, in a very hysterical mood—they were debating whether or not this particular trade would work on making American soldiers' uniforms and flags—a serious thing for a group of workers to discuss in time of war. Yet there they were, aliens, very few of them able to speak the American language, and all the debate I listened to, except of one person, was in a foreign language-every one was confused and hysterical. I went in and took charge of the meeting, as chairman, had interpreters and got the thing straightened out. Somebody had gotten to that group of people and entirely misrepresented the situation, with the result that they had these people all worked up and in a fighting mood. But when I began to read and explain and tell them what this thing was all about, they very gladly agreed to go back to work and to make all the uniforms necessary. That can be duplicated in a great many cases.
Even to-day a great deal of trouble in industry is caused by aliens who have been reached by other nationalities than Americans, who misrepresent things to them, and get them to go out—it is a serious problem.
There are big industrial centers in this Nation where American workers have been replaced by some nationality, that nationality replaced by still a third nationality, and that nationality driven out and replaced by another nationality. And we know of instances where labor procurers, when they cross the water to secure labor for the big firms of this Nation are directed by the firms not to recruit from one or two nations for any particular factory, but the firms recommend that at least 15 different nationalities be supplied for some of our manufacturers. And what is the result? Those different nationals come into those sections, every one with their old political prejudices, and are at each others' throats all the time. You can not Americanize them under such conditions of affairs.
It has been so bad that we, in the labor movement, have had to establish our labor colleges and schools at night, and we have labor colleges and schools being conducted and paid for by the American Federation of Labor that we might reach this very group of people in order that they might become educated—better educated.
Mr. BLACK. Do you not think the American employer who does this should be Americanized as well?
Mr. McGRADY. Well-
Mr. McGRADY. We want to prevent them from being exploited, to be sure, but, nevertheless, they are here and they are our problem. The American Government has brought these people here and they have dumped them on the shores of America, and it is not a State problem any more; it is a national problem-it is a national menace.
As I say, that is only one-half of the question; the other half was given to you the other day, when those full-blooded Americans, for generations, came here and confessed the fact that they did not have an opportunity of getting an education themselves. It is a serious problem; it is of supreme importance to our Nation.
Mr. WELSH. You know that the American problem is acutely a local problem; that is to say, you find the American problem most acute in the great centers of population of the East, do you not?
Mr. McGRADY. The American problem, of course, is not a local problem; the American problem is a national problem.
Mr. WELSH. I am asking you that particular question; I say it is particularly acute around the large centers of population.
Mr. McĞRADY. It is more acute there, to be sure.
Mr. WELSH. Yes. Now, do you not think the local authorities, who are brought face to face with that problem are more apt to deal with that situation intelligently, actively, and intensively, rather than a great national machine that is susceptible to influences that do not know what that local problem is?
Mr. McGRADY. That is not quite true, Congressman, for this reason: This group will go to work, we will say, in Chicago to-day, and work for a month; then they will migrate to St. Louis, Mo., work there for two months, and become dissatisfied and finally wind up in Boston, Mass. It is not a local problem; it is a national problem.
Mr. WELSH. Maybe I did not make my point clear. The great Southern States, the great Western States, and the large unpopulated areas do not know of the problem as we have it in the East. I come from Philadelphia; Iam very much interested in this problem. They do not know the problem we have. Now, if you are going to have a national organization dealing with this educational problem, you are going to have a great many interested in the national legislative result who will not be sympathetic with the problem we have in the East.
Mr. McGRADY. We do not view it from that standpoint.
Mr. Welsh. I am not saying how I view it; I am only calling that to your attention and asking if you have given it your thought?
Mr. McGRADY. I want to say the American labor movement has given very serious thought and consideration and study to this question for more than a generation and we have repeatedly indorsed a department of education with a secretary in the President's Cabinet. We stand whole-heartedly behind this bill.
Mr. BLACK. Do you indorse every feature of this bill?
Mr. Bacon. Do you not think the sum of $7,500,000 is too small for Americanization work?
Mr. McGrady. Well, we will be perfectly satisfied if they will give us that to start off with. We will let the future take care of itself. We might not need more, in the future if we can get a decent immigration bill through.
Mr. Bacon. You are quite right. We are in accord on that.
The CHAIRMAN. It has been suggested that this Americanization work would better be undertaken by the Naturalization Bureau of the Labor Department, as they are the people who have to deal with the aliens when they land, to determine what aliens shall land. Perhaps you are familiar with the fact that people connected with the Department of Labor have made that suggestion. Undoubtedly that is a national matter and that can constitutionally be handled by the Federal Government, because they have control over naturalization and the admission of aliens. Have you given any thought to that?
Mr. McGRADY. Not to that particular feature; no.
The CHAIRMAN. As far as the Americanization feature is concerned, the American Federation of Labor will be perfectly satisfied if this matter of Americanization is dealt with in an effective way by the Federal Government?
Mr. McGRADY. I believe it ought to be dealt with in an effective way, and we know of no more effective way than to have it dealt with through a department of education.
Mr. BLACK. Have you printed the minutes of the convention which approved this particular bill, or the principle in back of this bill?
Mr. McGrady. They are printed. They are not in pamphlet form, but in book form, and I have an idea they were presented at the Senate hearings. If not, I will look them up and see that they are presented here as a part of my remarks.
Mr. BACON. I wish you would; I would like to have them filed as a part of the record.
Miss WILLIAMS. We have a very strong statement from Mr. Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, which I would like to file at this time.
(The statement above referred to is as follows:)
Progress toward a higher civilization by the people of the United States can not be aided by increases in illiteracy, which were so startlingly shown among our young manhood during the war.
That so many lacked even the rudiments of an education is condemnatory of our present methods.
It proves that a small bureau hidden away in the Interior Department is incompetent to carry on the work of education.
Instead of illiteracy decreasing it is increasing. Therefore it is necessary for the people of our country to rouse themselves and demand a department of education which will have so much greater influence on the lives of our growing children. Educating our young people as well as those who come from foreign shores requires a greater force to direct it than is possible by the Bureau of Education, isolated as it is.
That is the reason the American Federation of Labor has so persistently and emphatically demanded the creation of a department of education, with a secretary as a member of the President's Cabinet.
President American Federation of Labor. Miss WILLIAMS (continuing). The American Federation of Teachers is a branch of the American Federation of Labor, and they are one of the many organizations that are active in this movement. I have here a statement from Miss Florence Rood, president of the American Federation of Teachers, which I should like to file.
The CHAIRMAN. It is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor?
Miss WILLIAMS. Yes.
The American Federation of Teachers has supported bills in succeeding Congresses providing for the creation of a department of education.
Its original position on the question of the desirability of a Federal education department is still maintained. So long as any legislative measure provides for the democratic administration of school affairs and safeguards in unmistakable terms the educational rights of all the children of the Nation, the American Federation of Teachers will continue its cooperative effort for its enactment into law.
President American Federation of Teachers. Miss WILLIAMS (continuing). I should like to call attention to the fact that the next organization listed here, the national committee for a department of education, was represented by Mr. A. Lincoln Filene, chairman and Mrs. Frederick P. Bagley, at one of the previous sessions.
The General Federation of Women's Clubs is an organization very largely representative of the women of this country. We have to-day Mrs. John D. Sherman, who will give us her own views and speak for the General Federation of Women's Clubs.
STATEMENT OF MRS. JOHN D. SHERMAN, CHAIRMAN OF THE DEPARTMENT OF APPLIED EDUCATION OF THE GENERAL FEDERATION OF WOMEN'S CLUBS
Mrs. SHERMAN. I am chairman of the department of applied education, of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, with headquarters in Washington, at 1734 N Street.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, the General Federation of Women's Clubs is a nation-wide organization representing 2,800,000 women. They have groups in every State in the Union. These club women are my constituents.
Thirty-four years ago, the General Federation was organized from a group, a very small group, of clubs scattered about the country, and now we have over 12,000 clubs in the General Federation, with State organizations, county, district, and local organizations.
The federation is a nonsectarian, nonpolitical body, and we describe ourselves as a group of organized women in every community who may be depended up on to support all movements looking toward the betterment of life. For five years we have supported legislation to create a Federal department of education. This support has been expressed through resolutions adopted at our biennial conventions, which is a delegate body representing the entire membership of the federation; at our biennial councils, also, which is a smaller group. I am happy to say that on all occasions these resolutions were adopted after giving consideration to the bills that were pending at that time, and they were adopted unanimously.
In addition to the resolutions adopted by the General Federation, they have also been adopted by State federations, by district and county federations, and by local clubs.