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have adopted the policy of having these foremen discuss this and they have done a pretty good job of it by themselves. I do not know that I have added a single thing to it. You said you had questions to ask me. I can come back, I suppose, at some time if the hearings are sufficiently long.
The CHAIRMAN. We will not subject you to that inconvenience. How many more witnesses do you have?
Mr. NELSON. Two or thre.
Mr. NELSON. Very well, then. You would like to hear, then, from another witness?
The CHAIRMAN. Oh, yes.
Mr. NELSON. Now, after this discussion, I have given a brief introduction of these men so that you would get an idea of the subject matter that we thought we were addressing ourselves to. The next one is a witness who is the president of the Detroit Chapter of the Ford Motor Co. and this is the earliest and the first organization and the most complete. It represents a very large supervisory body and they have an experience of a couple of years of operation and I have asked the witness in that regard to illustrate for you the questions that arise, the machinery that is set up and the manner of handling these problems. And I would like at this time, Mr. Chairman, to introduce Mr. Allen Nelson on that subject.
STATEMENT OF W. ALLEN NELSON, PRESIDENT OF THE DETROIT
CHAPTER OF THE FORD MOTOR CO. The CHAIRMAN. Come around, Mr. Nelson. You may proceed.
Mr. W. A. NELSON. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I represent the first chapter of the Foremen's Association of America to be formed and was one of the few who had considerable to do with the laying down of the policies that our membership are following today. Those policies partly are written into our constitution and partly are in the form of decisions on current problems which have been made by those of who are selected by the membership to represent them in our various contacts with our employers and others that we have relations with.
Our last official figures of membership in the Ford Chapter were 8,964 members and I have been told since by our secretary-treasurer that that has gone over the 9,000 mark and I can say this, that that fluctuates from day to day now because of the present reclassification that is being carried out in the Ford Motor Co. in compliance with the agreement, the only agreement, between the Ford Motor Co. and the Foremen's Association of America.
We organized the Foremen's Association in the fall of 1941, on November 2, 1941. On November 2, 1941, we adopted our constitution and had an election of the officers of the Ford chapter. At that time I was elected as vice president and I have since been reelected as vice president of the Ford chapter and through a change in the national set-up I automatically stepped into the acting presidency of the Ford group and I can truthfully say that I have never asked one man to join the foremen's association. I represent 9,000 foremen in the Ford plants. The same thing can be said in relation to my election. I never have asked any foreman to vote for me as an officer of this association. I feel, therefore, that I actually represent what the foremen
want in the way of their leadership. In carrying out that leadership I, along with others, have been charged with the duty of dealing with the Ford Motor Co. management. And in dealing with them we went through a period of denial of our recognition, a period in which we had to practice and had to learn how to practice restraint and to take what came in the way of progress and still plan for the future. In our attempt to contact the top management of the Ford Motor Co., to bring about recognition of us as an organized group and thereby the establishment of the machinery whereby our problems could be ironed out amicably, our letters were ignored. Our attempts at personal contact were ignored, and a little more than ignored.
But finally an incident occurred that made it advisable for the personnel director of the Ford Motor Co. to invite us as an organized group to send representatives to talk over our mutual problems. This was done on May 25, 1942, almost 6 months after we had first asked for the privilege of a conference with the top management.
In the first conference we had with the top management the question was asked why the statement was made, "We did not know that the foremen had problems that needed to be ironed out.” We told them frankly that we had problems that were not being ironed out and that were being accumulated. And if there could be a method set up whereby foremen could have a channel through which to contact the top management those problems would disappear because we would do our part in seeing that they would disappear. And since that time we have had never less than one contact a month with the top management of the Ford Motor Co. My duties today require me to meet and deal with the representatives, granted full authority by Mr. Edsel Ford himself to handle and compose all the foremen's relations.
Mr. SPARKMAN. May I interrupt right there? The Ford Motor plant is organized by the U. A. W., C. I. O., is it not?
Mr. A. W. NELSON. That is right.
Mr. W. A. NELSON. It is a so-called closed shop with an agreement that definitely and specifically excludes supervision from membership in the union.
Mr. SPARKMAN. When does that contract expire?
Mr. SPARKMAN. Then you are not required to become a part of the
Mr. W. A. Nelson. We function as a separate organization or association dealing with the same problems in regard to foremen that are dealt with by unions for the rank and file employees.
Mr. SPARKMAN. Do I understand that if management refuses to bargain with you-do you have a separate contract with the management?
Mr. W. A. NELSON. We have no written contract other than our rating classification contract which was the first attempt.
Mr SPARKMAN. Do I understand that if you try to get a contract with the management and they refuse to bother with you, do I understand that the National Labor Relations Act would enable you to bargain or not?
Mr. W. A. NELSON. Well, frankly, we are bargaining today and we bargain every day.
Mr. SPARKMAN. You are doing that on your own hook, though, and not under any requirement of law?
Mr. W. A. NELSON. No; we filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board and through a mutual agreement with the management to bargain with us on an equitable basis that would supplant the necessity for legal recognition through the National Labor Relations Board we have been dealing on what you call a day-to-day verbal agreement.
Mr. SPARKMAN. Yes; and that is by agreement with the management. I am assuming that management did not enter into that agreement; do you think you can compel them to do so under the National Labor Relations Act?
Mr. W. A. NELSON. We started the machinery to compel them to before they bargained with us on that basis.
Mr. JOHNSON. Will the gentlemen yield?
Mr. JOHNSON. I think that has been answered by your statement at that time that the contract you referred to which lasts for the duration, at that time you were not organized, were you?
Mr. W. A. Nelson. Oh, yes; we were.
Mr. W. A. NELSON. Here is how much we were bargaining at that time. This original contract which was revised under the process before the War Labor Board last summer; incidentally we not only bargained with the company but we asked both the company and the union to permit us to sit in on the last negotiations for revision of their contract because in that contract in the original contract written in 1941 there had been included a clause affecting our seniority; that is, the seniority of the foremen. That contract was written before
re organized, and because the clause in that contract worked a hardship on every foreman in the Ford Motor Co. after we became organized that became one of our principal aims to rectify the injustices that were included in that original contract. We did not undertake to go to the Ford Motor Co. and say, "We want you to say to the union that you have got to do this and you have got to do that because it affects the foremen." But we wrote identical letters to both the company and the union asking them for the right to sit in and determine the point of interest where their contract affected the foremen and we were granted that right after we intervened before the National War Labor Board during the time that the negotiations for the contract were made.
Mr. JOHNSON. What did you say about the letter? Did you say you regretted the letter?
Mr. W. A. NELSON. No, no. We wrote identical letters to both the company and the union asking for the privilege to sit in on the negotiations leading to the rectification of the wrong, as we saw it, that was contained in the contract between the company and the union.
Mr. JOHNSON. I got that. But you made some comment about that letter. What was it?
Mr. W. A. NELSON. That letter, we were refused the request that was contained in that letter both by the company and by the union.
Mr. JOHNSON. So at the time they made that contract, when they made that contract the Ford union knew and the Ford management knew that you had an organization of your own?
Mr. W. A. NELSON. Oh, yes; they knew it from the first day.
Mr. DURHAM. You are going ahead and functioning under this objection that was raised a few minutes ago by Mr. Sparkman?
Mr. W. A. NELSON. Yes; we are functioning on a thoroughly satisfactory basis.
Mr. DURHAM. And carrying out what you consider to be collective bargaining?
Mr. W. A. NELSON. That is right, and we are getting an adjustment of rates of pay and getting recognition for a classification system that never before has existed in the Ford Motor Co. among the different strata of foremen and getting the adjustment of dismissals and getting adjustment of the personal problems of individual foremen through our organized action and in contact with the representative of the company set up for that purpose and it cannot be anything but collective bargaining.
Mr. DURHAM. I assume from your testimony then at the present time you can go ahead and do this under the National Labor Relations Board decision?
Mr. W. A. NELSON. Here is what happened in the case of the National Labor Relations Board. We filed our petition for an election. Up to that time we had not contacted the Ford Motor Co. We had been refused the privilege of a conference with the Ford management and on the very day that we were called in by the personnel representative, Mr. Pennett, our attorney filed in Detroit a petition for the election to determine the bargaining agent for the foremen. Now, that was brought about because of this incident which came up suddenly and we had instructed our attorney a few days before that happened to carry it out and the very day that we were called in to Mr. Bennett our attorney filed the petition.
Mr. DURHAM. You are not having any trouble at the present time from the unit of the C. I. O.?
Mr. W. A. NELSON. No; not one bit. In fact, as a result of the failure of the company and the union to come to Detroit when it was certified before the War Labor Board last summer a panel of the board, Mr. Keyes as president of the national organization and myself as vice president at tht time of the Ford chapter and of the national came to Washington and asked the War Labor Board for the right to intervene in the hearings that were to determine what would go in this contract. We were given that right. We were recognized as a responsible organization representing at that time fully 80 percent of the foremen,
Mr. DURHAM. Why haven't they given it to this other so-called foremen's association?
Mr. W. A. NELSON. The War Labor Board only gave us that right to intervene in the particular problem which we brought before them which was the seniority for foremen.
Mr. DURHAM. The War Labor Board?
Mr. W. A. NELSON. The War Labor Board, when they were handling the situation as an emergency last summer. Out of that intervention and out of the permission to intervene before that panel we were permitted to express our desires in regard to seniority and the result was a rewriting of that with the consent and approval of both the representatives of the union and of the company, of this section that rectified the injustices, as we felt, that had existed in the contract. And since the signing of the contract that now is to last for the duration the foremen had exactly the same seniority rights as the men in the union, and that was by mutual agreement between the three representative groups.
Mr. Elston. Mr. Chairman, I want to ask the witness a question or two if we have the time on a subject that has not been touched upon at all as yet.
In dealing with the employees of the company the foreman represents management, does he not?
Mr. W. X. NELSON. In dealing with the employees of the company? Mr. Elston. Yes; the foreman represents management.
Mr. W. A. NELSON. We are carrying out the instructions of the management.
Mr. ELSTON. Therefore you are representing management.
Mr. W. A. NELSON. I would say we are representing management in technical ways; yes.
Mr. ELSTON. Now, then, if foremen and supervisory employees become unionized and there is an election to determine the bargaining agent and the supervisory employees vote in that election, don't you think they would be exercising some influence over the employees that they ordinarily direct, and don't you think you would be defeating one of the purposes of the Wagner Act that there must be an uninfluenced vote?
Mr. W. A. NELSON. No; in May 1941 when the election to determine the bargaining agent in the Ford Motor Co. was held the foremen were specifically barred from the right to vote in that election. We were not permitted to vote.
Mr. COSTELLO. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. COSTELLO. Do you believe that some amendment to the Wagner Labor Relations Act would cure this situation?
Mr. W. A. NELSON. You mean clarifying the right of foremen to have a representative organization?
Mr. COSTELLO. That is right, the bargaining rights.
Mr. W. A. NELSON. It may be possible that may have to be done, but I believe it can be done by a proper interpretation of the present provisions in the Wagner Act.
Mr. Elston. In the case you mention how were the foremen barred?
Mr. W. A. NELSON. We were classified as supervisory officials not to be included in any contract that might be finally consummated between the company and the union.
Mr. Elston. That was only by contract, was it not?