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That is all, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Johnson. Mr. Carlton, we are getting a general view of all these things. In your opinion, has the Wagner Act brought the employees and the employers closer together, or has it accentuated their differences and driven them apart?
Mr. CARLTON. I do not think there is any question that your last statement is true, because of the nature of the way the union has handled the matter. You see, that business of having stewards got the men away from being close to management. I have watched stewards operate in a number of factories. A steward is there to hear the grievances of the men. If there are no grievances, he manufactures some and takes them in to the management. Now, we insist that the grievance be in writing, signed by the complaining man, and that has stopped a lot of our trouble.
Mr. Johnson. When you were here and gave your endorsement to that law, was your idea something like this: That you thought there should be a forum where these labor-management problems could be settled ?
Mr. CARLTON. That is right.
Mr. JOHNSON. Is there any way in which big business, where it has thousands of employees, can restore the relationship that formerly existed, as in small plants which had 10, 15, or 20 men, and the boss knew everybody and the head of the plant knew everybody? How can you restore that situation?
Mr. Carlton. Well, many manufacturers, who have had a great deal of experience, would say, “Řepeal the Wagner Act.” I am now speaking personally. I cannot make this statement for industry. I think that to repeal the Wagner Act would be a very grave mistake. But it ought to be made to work. The War Labor Board, distinguishing that Board, now, from the National Labor Relations Board, in its decentralization program, setting up regional offices and we now have one in Detroit-is going to be a great influence in settling a lot of things quickly and at home. The panel method has got to be made to work. I am willing that any dispute that has to be settled by that method should be settled by a panel of people from my home town, my home folks. I think the quicker we get to it and the quicker wé get away from settling the business of John Jones, from Oshkosh, down here in Washington, and get this thing back to the grass roots, where he lives, and let his fellow townsmen be the arbitrators, then we are going to get much closer to the original purpose of the Wagner Act.
Mr. JOHNSON. Do you remember the P. R. A.--the President's Reemployment Agreement--which existed before the Wagner Act? Did you not have something to do with that in your plant? There was an agreement made under P. R. A.-before the Wagner Act-and section 6 provided that no man's rights should be interfered with because he was or was not a member of a labor union.
Mr. Carlton. That is right.
Mr. JOHNSON. Was not that construed by the labor groups as a mandate to organize all the different plants?
Mr. Carlton. Yes; it was.
Mr. JOHNSON. Was that not your experience in Detroit and Lansing?
Mr. CARLTON. That was enhanced by handbills that were passed out to our men, saying, “The President wants you to organize." Those handbills were handed out all over our shops.
Mr. JOHNSON. Under that agreement and under the Wagner Act there is nothing which is an inhibition or prohibition against an independent union; is there?
Mr. CARLTON. No; there is not. There are some flourishing independent unions in existence today.
Mr. JOHNSON. As a matter of fact, was not that law the thing that stimulated the national unions to a build-up of those little local unions?
Mr. CARLTON. Yes.
Mr. JOHNSON. I am thinking of a plant that manufactures dirtmoving machinery. It started in Stockton, Calif., and is now in Peoria, Ill. In that plant there was a small union. The owner knew all the men, and they all knew him. It was my privilege to conduct the first Labor Board vote out there to determine the bargaining agent.
Is it not your experience that those very elections keep on stimulating and accentuating the differences or controversies between the workers and the management ?
Mr. CARLTON. That is definitely true.
Mr. JOHNSON. You say you think that if the Wagner Act could be made to work, the problem would be solved. What do you mean by that?
Mr. CARLTON. Well, disputes that cause strikes are manufactured many times by labor organizations in order to strengthen their union hold upon
May I illustrate? A year and a half or 2 years ago we had the first strike we had ever had in a business that was started in 1904. It took us completely by surprise, because the issue was a closed shop. When Dr. Steelman's arbitration man came out, and the president of the U. A. W., with which we are affiliated, their first attempt was to say, "Now, let us get to the bottom of this thing. Let us lay aside the union shop and talk about grievances."
So, they made orations, and then the president of our own company union got up and said:
There are no grievances. Every Tuesday night every grievance is settled with this company, and from 1937 to 1941 we have never had a grievance more than a week. So there are none. Oh, well, let us talk about wages.
Then they made orations about wages, labor organizers being present.
The president of the union said: We are the highest-paid people we know of in the parts industry, and we have no argument with this company about wages. We are sure that if we are entitled to more wages-if somebody else is getting more--we will get them ; so that is not an issue.
Well, what is the issue?
They then said that 95 percent of all our people belonged to the union. We do not know how many belong to the union; we have never had a way of finding that out.
So, we said: Fine. Let us assume that you are absolutely right and that 95 percent belong. Now you want a closed shop to force the other 5 percent in. Why? What are they doing to bother you? Well, they have got to belong. I said to those men: I know 200 men, maybe it is 100, but I can write out a list of old-fashioned folks who have been working for us for 25 or 30 years. They have come in to me since this strike started and have said, “This is a terrible thing. We should never have had this strike. If you want me to quit my job, I will quit, but this is the only job I have ever had. I have never worked anywhere else. But if you are going to force me to join a union, I will quit. There is something inside me that makes me say you cannot force me to join a union. I will not do it. But maybe we are the trouble and we should all quit.
We said to them: No, you just stay where you are. We will promise that nobody will ever force you to join a union.
We did not sign an agreement for a closed shop. When we got through, the answer was this that the labor leaders came to us alone and said:
We can see that you are never going to give us a closed shop, so we would like to call this thing off ; but we would like to have something with which to save face. The men are giving us trouble, and we have to settle the strike. What will you give us to settle?
Then we had to figure out some funny language that they could put on the bulletin boards, and the thing was off.
Mr. JOHNSON. I have gone through that same experience myself. Do
you think that if we could eliminate the absentee control of some of these unions, we could avoid some of this?
Mr. CARLTON. I am not so sure of that. I believe I could answer it in Sidney Hillman's words better than any others. He said:
All that is needed to make the Wagner Act work peacefully is better leadership among the union leaders.
Mr. Johnson. The Wagner Act practically prohibits an employer from dealing with an individual employee. He can hardly be courteous to him without violating the law. Do you think that if some of the provisions in that law could be revamped, that now restrict the employer, it would help in the administration of the law?
Mr. CARLTON. I do not believe the Wagner Act prohibits my talking to an employee. It is the interpretation of the act that prevents it, and it is the interpretations of the Wagner Act that have caused the trouble we have had.
The CHAIRMAN. Suppose Congress passed a law as an amendment to the Wagner Act, definitely defining the words "employee,” and said in it that "the word “employee shall not include any of the supervisory personnel of any industry concerned.” Would not that be a solution of the problem?
Mr. CARLTON. I think that that is all that would be necessary.
The CHAIRMAN. But you would like to have the responsibility placed on the shoulders of management, as it is in section 4 of this bill?
Mr. Carlton. We are interested in the whole manpower issue.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Gathings?
Mr. GATHINGS. Do you not think that if the 40-hour week were to be abolished and industrial workers were to work 54 hours a week, we would largely solve our whole problem of manpower?
The CHAIRMAN. For the duration ? Mr. GATHINGS. For the duration. Mr. CARLTON. Well, they can work 54 hours a week now. Many people are. But 54 hours does not work out just right if you are working around the clock on 8-hour shifts. You can work 48 hours, and you can work 56 hours if you work 8 hours a day for 7 days.
Mr. GATHINGS. Eight-hour shifts are worked in most factories?
Mr. CARLTON. They are paying them now.
Mr. CARLTON. That is right. It is in the cost of your war products today. Many contracts provide for a fixed price based on a 40-hour week, an additional price if you run 48 hours, and another price if you run all day Sunday, on a 7-day-a-week schedule. Then, as they got sufficient material, they said there would be no more Sunday work. When they got still more they said there would be no more Saturday work.
Mr. GATHINGS. Would a 54-hour week be too much for a man to perform his duties in your line of work?
Mr. CARLTON. For the period of the war nothing is too much. I do not believe in Sunday work, not from any religious views, but I believe a man–I do not care who he is—has got to have a day of rest. Your machinery has got to have a day of rest when you are repairing and revamping and keeping those expensive machines in operation. So, I do not believe in Sunday work. I hope that when this war is over we will get right back to 40 hours, so that the people on Saturdays and Sundays can enjoy the luxuries of the standard of living that they do not now have, and so that they can ride in their automobiles, and everybody can buy more of them. We believe in a 40-hour week, but for the period of the war we will work just as many hours as the men will allow us to work, or as many hours as we can get material to run with—and material today is a problem. In April you are going to hear of many shut-downs. There is going to be a lot of labor unrest in April, because material shortages are closing this line, that line, and the other line. Men are not going to get 40 hours a week. In my own factory today one line is down with about 200 men out. Maybe we will get a little dab of steel this week. Then we can run for 3 or 4 days, but we will be down again for 2 weeks.
Mr. GATHINGS. I just want to say that you, Mr. Wilson, and the gentleman representing the Inland Steel Co., it seems to me, are just in a fight for your very existence. If these supervisory employees are permitted to unionize themselves the whole system of free enterprise or private enterprise will no doubt collapse; is that right?
Mr. Carlton. In my opinion, sir, it is as bad as that.
Mrs. LUCE. Mr. Carlton, would you want to say something about absenteeism and what you believe to be the causes of it in your own plant?
Mr. CARLTON. We have a committee of this industry, headed by Mr. Wilson, studying absenteeism at the present time, with the idea of actually finding out all the reasons for it. It would be presumptuous for me to put my finger on any one thing. But I did tell Dr. Wilbur, over at the Manpower Commission a week ago, this—and I believe the union people will agree with the statement-that if there is one reason more important than any other, it is the fact that the man is not convinced that the job he is doing is very important, and if he wants to take a day off or 2 days or a week end off, he says:
Oh, well, I was laid off last week. Anyway, we worked all day New Year's Day because somebody waved a flag and said, “You can't take time off because the boys overseas are fighting”; but we laid off Thursday, Friday, and Saturday because there was no material.
That is a pretty sour note. They have no feeling of security in their present jobs.
Mrs. LUCE. Are you suggesting that most of the absenteeism in your plant is voluntary absenteeism? Have you any figures on it!
Mr. Carlton. Oh, certainly. Of course, the percentage of sickness we will know. We will be able to report on that quickly to anybody who wants to know.
Mrs. LUCE. But the absenteeism is voluntary in the sense that people want to take a rest?
Mr. CARLTON. That is right. They have worked hard and made a lot of money, and they take a day off.
Mrs. Luce. Then, are you suggesting that perhaps Mr. Rickenbacker is right?
Mr. Carlton. He is a very close, personal friend of mine. I do not want to digress onto the things he got into. He is on the right track, certainly, but perhaps he goes too far one way or the other.
Mrs. Luce. But you do not yet have the actual facts? I mean, it is just an assumption that this is voluntary?
Mr. CARLTON. Yes; but I am convinced that the lack of feeling the importance of his job because he has been laid off is serious. He knows he is going to be laid off.
Mrs. LUCE. Then, do you think that because he has not been convinced of the importance of his job it is his fault or the country's fault?
Mr. CARLTON. I think some of it has not been his fault. I think there has been very bad control of the material situation, which I hope is getting better.
Mr. Johnson. If you insist on working every week end because it is important, but next Wednesday you say:
I am sorry, but we will not have any material with which to work the next 2 or 3 days. he assumes the job is not as important as you thought it was.
Mr. CARLTON. And the next Sunday he says:
Mrs. LUCE. This is asking for an expression of opinion. Do you feel that with reference to absenteeism it might be better to treat the causes than absenteeism itself?