Page images

deluge of labor difficulties came on, it might have been possible to have functioned much more effectively in reference to labor difficulties.

We have brought these different agencies in and have attempted to consolidate them with the Department. We have made many changes that have resulted in elimination of duplication and have made some very considerable savings. While the amounts are not large as compared with total amounts expended by the Government generally, they have been real savings as a result of the work that has been done by myself and by the staff of the Secretary's office.


I want to go through the various offices within the Department, if I may. The first is the Solicitor's office. His function is that which would be naturally implied by the term "solicitor.” He is the chief legal officer of the Department and has supervision over the legal staff. He serves as counsel to the Secretary and to all of the bureaus and divisions of the Department both in Washington and in the field.

His office not only interprets the laws in which the Department is interested, but also has to do with the enforcement of those statutes which are of such a nature as to require enforcement. He conducts the trial of civil cases and prepares for the Attorney General's office the cases which involve criminal charges. Those are handled, of course, through the United States attorneys in the various districts.

The Solicitor renders aid to the Conciliation Service and also heads up the work of the preparation of reports to Congress particularly on pending legislation and of statements which are made by me in testifying before the various committees.

When a request comes in, or a bill is introduced and sent to the Department for the advice and opinion of the Department, the system that we use is for the Solicitor's office to take the leadership, because of their knowledge of the legal side of it and because he is better able to know each one of the bureaus which might be interested and might be of value and assistance in the preparation of a report; and he calls them together in staff meeting. If it is a matter of sufficient importance, I meet with him and we discuss the problems involved and reach a conclusion as to policy. The reports are actually prepared by the Solicitor's office.

DIVISION OF LABOR STANDARDS The next is the Division of Labor Standards which I understand has been under close scrutiny by the committee for several years. We have had, as you know, and presented to the committee, a report on the value of its activities for the fiscal year 1946. That report is rather voluminous. It was sent to the committee a short time ago. I doubt that you have had an opportunity in the period since you have received it, to make much of a study of it.

The Division of Labor Standards acts as an administrative arm of my office in the promotion of industrial safety and health activities; the development of labor legislation; the promotion of labor-management cooperation in industry, including the development of materials on labor education services.

During the war, as you know, there was developed a very comprebensive program of Federal participation in the work of safety throughout the war plants in the country. When the question came up last fall as to the elimination or continuation-before the deficiency committee charged with rescission of national-defense appropriations of this activity, which we felt was a matter of policy to be determined by this committee. Because of the national-defense appropriation language the committee had no alternative other than to rescind the balance in the national-defense appropriation for safety.

There cannot be any question it seems to me that the safety of employees in a factory, their protection against accident is just as important in peacetime as it is in wartime. It does not make any difference whether a person gets killed in peacetime or in wartime, it is just as bad; or even whether he gets disabled.

The problem is the extent to which the Federal Government, as such, should participate in the program. During the war it was felt that because of the fact that the Government was having these factories produce goods for war purposes, for the Federal Government, there certainly was a responsibility upon the part of the Federal Government to go in and take leadership in that field.



Mr. TARVER. Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask the Secretary a question at this point, with your permission.

Mr. Secretary, I would like to understand the division of responsibility between the Bureau of Mines and the Bureau of Labor Standards in the promotion of safety devices and practices in the coal-mining industry. What is the field of responsibility of each of those organizations in that connection?

Secretary SCHWELLENBACH. You will remember, in 1940-I was a Member of Congress at that time—we passed the Federal Mine Inspection Act which gave to the Federal Bureau of Mines the powerSenator Neely was the sponsor of it and he can also explain possibly better than I can about the relationship between the Bureau of Labor Standards and the Federal Bureau of Mines Inspection Service, and if I do not answer correctly, I hope the Senator will feel free to correct me.

That act gave to the Federal Bureau of Mines the right to inspect and the right to make recommendations to the States' mine inspecting offices and to the State legislatures. The theory was that if the dignity and prestige of the Federal Bureau of Mines was invoked, the State mine inspectors and the State legislatures would pay more attention than if it came merely from the Department of Labor and the Division of Labor Standards.

I assume that it is coal mining that you are talking about ?
Mr. TARVER. Yes.

Secretary SchWELLENBACH. There is a distinction between coalmining operations and the others, and there was a special statute for coal-mining operations.

Mr. TARVER. Then, in effect, the Bureau of Labor Standards has been relieved of any responsibility or function in connection with that Particular phase of industry?

Secretary SCHWELLENBACH. I would not say that it has been entirely relieved of responsibility, Judge. For example, just a few months ago, they made a special study and sent out a release to the various State legislatures, pointing out the desirability of a strengthening of the requirements for safety in the coal-mining industry. That work was started by the Division of Labor Standards and I assumeI am not sure about this—I assume that in the work that they did, they collaborated with the Federal Bureau of Mines..

Mr. TARVER. Do you not think one organization ought to have the entire responsibility in that field?

Secretary SchWELLENBACH. Congress itself, when that bill was passed—I believe it was in 1940-picked out the coal-mining industry as being peculiarly dangerous and placed some special responsibility upon the Federal Bureau of Mines.

Mr. TARVER. I understand that, but Congress makes mistakes, at times, so I have been informed. The question I had in mind was whether or not, in your judgment, there ought to be responsibility centered in one organization for work in that field, whether in the Bureau of Mines or the Bureau of Labor Standards. My observation is that when more than one authority has responsibility in a field, there is always the probability that neither authority will exercise it in the best possible way. My own idea or thought is that there should not be a division of authority. I am wondering whether or not you have given thought to that and what your impression is.

Secretary ScHWELLENBACH. I would say this, that insofar as the coal-mining problems of safety are the same as those of other industries, that the responsibility should be in the Bureau of Labor Standards. If, as Congress felt at that time, there was some peculiar problem in reference to the coal-mining industry, and they wanted to place special responsibility upon the Bureau of Mines for the setting up of rules and making recommendations, then, to the extent that the problems are peculiar to the coal-mining industry, the Bureau of Mines may be in a better position than the Bureau of Labor Standards to do that work.

There are certainly safety problems in the mining industry which are the same as in any other industry and the Division of Labor Standards is in a better position so far as those problems are concerned than the Bureau of Mines, to study and present to the various State legislatures the recommendations in reference to those problems, that are universal in their nature.

Mr. TARVER. That is all, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Neely. Mr. Chairman, may I make an observation concerning this matter that is under discussion?

Mr. HARE. Yes.

Mr. NEELY. As I recall it, Mr. Secretary, before the passage of the Federal mine inspection bill, the Division of Labor Standards had no appropriation and no responsibility so far as any act of Congress was concerned, to inspect coal mines for the purpose of preventing mine explosions or disasters of that type which, for the last 40 years have caused on the average of five deaths every day in the year, winter and summer, work or play. The average death rate for accidents in coal mines have been five a day for 40 years. And it was to supply the deficiency to which I have referred that this Federal Mine Inspection bill was passed.

It was purely an inspection bill for the purpose of sending men into the coal mines and making tests to see if there were dangerous conditions which could have been detected, of course, by proper inspections in the various States. But it was found after many years of these disasters, that nothing effective had been done; that in many cases the State inspections were not sufficient, that the dangers, even, that some of the State inspectors had warned the operators and the miners against, were entirely ignored.

So that this was a Federal effort, whether right or wrong, to help protect the lives of the miners and the property, against these disastrous explosions which we have had in every bituminous coalproducing State in the Nation, from Oklahoma down to Alabama. We have had them in Indiana and Illinois. We had the worst one in the world occur 6 miles from my home in West Virginia, when 361 lives were snuffed out in the twinkling of an eye.

So it was in order to try to prevent such things that this bill was Dassed.

Mr. TARVER. I should like the gentleman to understand that I am in entire accord with the objectives outlined by him. The only question in my mind was which organization ought to have charge of the work, whether it should be under the authority of one agency or two agencies. That was the only thing I had in mind.

Mr. NEELY. Judge Tarver, do you not think the Bureau of Mines would be the logical branch of the Government to make mine inspections?

Mr. TARVER. I do not know. That is the reason I sought the advice of the Secretary on the matter.

Secretary SCHWELLENBACH. May I say this, Judge? The Bureau of Labor Standards goes in and gives advice with reference to labor standards for safety and health. It relies upon the State inspections, so far as inspections are made. It was thought that in the coalmining industry State inspections were so incomplete that it was necessary to have a Federal bureau to do the inspecting. There is that distinction between the furnishing of advice and the giving of recommendations to State legislatures, and the actual work of inspecting, for which this 1940 act provided in the coal-mining industry.

Mr. HARE. If there are no further questions, we would be glad if you will proceed with your general statement, Mr. Secretary.

Mr. KEEFE. Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask a question on that, if I may, to clear this matter up in my own mind. I have before me the so-called Mine Inspection Act. As I understand it, this legislation authorizes the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the United States Bureau of Mines, to make inspections of those mines whose product normally passes in interstate commerce.

Secretary SCHWELLENBACH. Yes. It had to be that way. Mr. KEEFE. That was the basis for the Federal inspection. Penalties were set up against those miners who refused to permit the inspectors of the Bureau of Mines to go into these mines and make inspections for safety and sanitation, and so on.

Now, the purpose of the act, as set forth in it, was that the Secretary of the Interior might make a report to the Congress, through the Bureau of Mines, annually, either in summary or in detailed form, of the information gained as a result of those sections and to compile


and analyze and publish these reports for the benefit of the Congress and for the benefit of the public, and to disseminate that information to the public and to the State legislatures and the State inspection services as well as to the Congress.

The idea was that while the actual passage of legislation was a matter for the States, the accumulation of information as a result of these inspections might result in some safety regulations being issued by the States, or some legislation being passed by the States.

It seems to me from reading this statute that it very clearly was the intent of the Congress to vest that activity relating to mines in the Bureau of Mines as distinguished from the Bureau of Labor Standards.

In fact, this is the first time since the passage of that act that I have understood that the Bureau of Labor Standards had anything to do with it at all. The law specifically sets forth the duties and responsibilities of the Bureau of Mines in the matter of inspections, collection of information, report to Congress, the dissemination of that information, the analysis of it, and the recommendations made as a result of the inspections.

I fail to see, Mr. Secretary, where the Division of Labor Standards would fit into the picture so far as mines are concerned, at all, if the statute is followed by the Bureau of Mines, as set out here:

Secretary SCHWELLENBACH. I will say this, that I do not want to give the impression—and if I gave it I want to correct it—that there has been any great activity on the part of the Division of Labor Standards in this field. We have not attempted to impinge upon the work of the Bureau of Mines. I did say a few minutes ago that the Division of Labor Standards had prepared some statements in reference to the situation in the coal-mining industry. But there are certain things, such as safety devices and safety standards which are not indigenous to the coal-mining industry, and to that extent we have had some slight activity there. But insofar as the work was concerned with the peculiar dangers involved in the coal-mining industry, the Division of Labor Standards has not had any activity in reference to it.


Mr. KEEFE. If I may, Mr. Chairman, as long as the Secretary is on this subject, I should like to have the record quite clear on this subject, because I have been interested for a number of years in the work of the Division of Labor Standards and I think I understand its functions and its operations.

During the war, Mr. Secretary, as you indicated, when the business of this country was largely being performed under so-called WalshHealey contracts, every contractor doing $10,000 or more of business for the Government was required to submit to the conditions of the Walsh-Healey Act and opportunity was afforded the Government to bring pressure to bear upon such contractors and manufacturers, due to their contractual relationship with the Government, to maintain certain standards.

As members of the committee will recall, the difficulty in the Division of Labor Standards, as I found it, was this: When I first came on this committee, I found that they had not adopted any Federal standards at all that would be applicable to those Walsh-Healey contracts. There were no Federal standards of safety and sanitation

« PreviousContinue »