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FULL UTILIZATION OF MANPOWER
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 14, 1943
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.O. The committee met at 10 a. m., Hon. Andrew J. May (chairman) presiding
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will be in order and we will proceed with the hearing on the various bills, all of which have been consolidated to be heard together.
STATEMENT OF ADMIRAL EMORY S. LAND, CHAIRMAN OF THE
The CHAIRMAN. We are honored this morning with the presence Admiral Emory S. Land, the Chairman of the Maritime Commission.
Admiral Land, will you come around, please, sir, and give us your views on this legislation and proceed with any statement you may have, and when you get through with your statement the members of the committee may want to inquire further.
Admiral LAND. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I have a brief written statement, but with your permission I should like to make a still briefer oral statement with regard to this bill now before you, I think my opinion could be reduced to one very short sentence, taking it from an advertisement, “Eventually; why not now?” Being a strong believer in preventive medicine, I am quite willing to pass the responsibility to Congress where I think it properly belongs, and if there is no other effect of this bill than that it is preventive medicine, it is my humble judgment that it would have a tremendously valuable effect on the war effort of the United States, and, therefore, I am entirely in accord with the proposed legislation. And in saying that I am entirely in accord, I go beyond the report made to the Chairman by the Maritime Commission because we have been more or less going half way. I am perfectly willing to go the whole way, as Chairman and as an individual, because I do believe that this type of preventive medicine backed by the Congress of the United States will have the effect that we are looking for and which is being attempted by various and sundry means without sufficient backing to make it imperative and to carry out the desires.
A short time age we received a directive from the War Manpower Commission with regard to loggers and copper miners. The Army and Navy received the same directive. We are obeying that directive insofar as it falls within our capabilities. In my judgment it would
be far more easily obeyed and far more thoroughly carried out and far more imperative if it came from the Congress of the United States rather than from executive offices such as is held by the Chairman of the War Manpower Commission. And that is one reason why I go further than the commission did a few weeks ago. We are directed and ordered to do just what is contained in this bill. Well, if you want to carry it out and get the results let us have that directive from the Congress.
My written statement, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, as previously reported by letter to the Chairman of this committee, dated March 25, 1943, the manpower needs with which the Maritime Commission and the War Shipping Administration are particularly concerned can be defined in five categories:
(1) Shipyards, where the ships are built;
(2) Manufacturing plants, producing materials for maritime construction;
(3) Vessel personnel, for the operation of merchant vessels;
(4) Shore personnel, including stevedoring and dock employees and the staffs of operating companies; and
(5) The administrative personnel of the two agencies.
The shipyards building ships for the Maritime Commission employed more than 500,000 persons at the beginning of 1943. When the peak of 1943 production is reached, the shipyards will have 800,000 or more employees. Approximately 125,000 additional employees have been recruited during the first quarter of this year. Therefore, it is estimated that the yards will require 150,000 or more additional employees during the remainder of 1943, in order to maintain the accelerated production schedule.
The manufacturing plants engaged in maritime production were employing about 1,000,000 persons, more or less, at the beginning of this year. They will need about 300,000 to 350,000 additional employees to meet the expanded program, making a total for them at peak production of approximately one and one-third million employees.
Estimates for needed additions to vessel personnel for 1943 range from 30,000 to 50,000, depending upon the number of ships built and the extent of the ship losses. Approximately 50,000 seamen were employed when 1943 began.
Shore personnel, in connection with ship operation, will require an additional 20,000 to 35,000 employees in 1943.
The Maritime Commission and the War Shipping Administration will need about 4,000 additional administrative personnel for Washington and all field offices in 1943 .
The foregoing estimate of manpower needs indicates that in 1943 somewhere between 650,000 and 750,000 employees must be recruited for essential war work in the maritime field to be added to the million and one-half or more employed therein at the beginning of the year.
Until quite recently, the manpower needs of the shipbuilding program have been satisfactorily met on a voluntary basis.
And I would like to interject that coming from the Navy with 40 years of service in it I have always believed in the voluntary basis but we have never had a war of this kind or of this character in the history of the world and we have got to go beyond the precedents that have been heretofore established. The Navy by directive is no
longer on a voluntary basis and it seems to follow as the night the day that we can no longer wait for things to be done on a voluntary basis.
At the close of the first quarter of 1943, however, a check-up indicated a deficit of manpower in the shipyards.
Based upon the acceleration of the shipbuilding program, the yards had a total of more than 130,000 new jobs to fill during the first quarter of 1943, and their replacement needs exceeded 200,000. Total intake requirements for all of the shipyards during the quarter were therefore more than 33,000 employees. The total intake for the period was only 262,000 employees. The difference between total intake and total requirements indicates a deficit of more than 70,000 employees.
Much of the present difficulty is due to the turn-over rate, which amounted to 11.2 percent per month of the total working force for the period in question, of which only 2 percent represented withdrawals of men to enter the armed services. This turn-over rate is relatively high, and it should be possible to lower it as stabilization of the manpower supply develops.
With respect to vessel personnel, the War Shipping Administration is recruiting and training seamen for the vessels in operation and the new vessels being built. A meeting was held last week with representatives of maritime labor and steamship management, at which a program was outlined by which to assure the wartime manning of the American merchant marine.
Many of the men serving in the merchant marine are of draft age and must be deferred from the draft if they are to continue in the service. This is particularly true of the men in the United States Maritime Service and other training programs. The recruiting of men with previous experience at sea means taking them away from shore industries.
The bill under consideration would authorize the Government to draft civilians for necessary war work. The law has heretofore required the registration of all men between the ages of 18 and 65. This bill would include the registration of women between the ages of 18 and 50. All registrants, except those in certain specified categories, would be subject to call by their local draft boards for assignment to employment as the needs of war production might require.
My comment is confined primarily to the objective to be attained by the bill.
Upon the basis of experience to date with problems of manpower utilization and supply, it appears that some mandatory power must be provided sooner or later, to make the necessary controls workable and effective, if workers are to be retained and new labor supplied where needed. If this is sound logic, the problem of legislation can be stated in a well-known advertising slogan: “Eventually; why not now?"
If and when war service legislation of the kind under consideration is adopted by Congress, it is suggested that seamen on merchant vessels and men in training for the merchant marine should be added to the exempt categories listed in section 2 of the bill.
That is all, Mr. Chairman, of my general statement.
The CHAIRMAN. We are very glad to have you here as a witness, Admiral Land, and while I do not want to ask you very many ques
tions I want to call your attention to the character of the testimony we had before this committee last week included in a statement of H. Garrish Smith, president of the Shipbuilders' Council of America. I do not suppose you have had an opportunity to read that testimony?
Admiral LAND. I have not.
The CHAIRMAN. But he told us last week that the turn-over in the laborers of the shipyards throughout the country was such that it amounted in 4 different shipyards in some cases to a situation where they had to employ as many as 10,000 men to secure 2,000 steady employees; that is, to maintain an actual force of 2,000. Have you made any study of the situation around the country in the shipyards along both coasts, the east coast and the west coast?
Admiral LAND. Yes, sir; we have a fairly complete and reasonably accurate study of the labor turn-over, absenteeism, and the general labor situation as it applies to personnel. Before the Naval Affairs Committee of the House we testified on the absenteeism and gave the best figures we could obtain without trying to be too accurate; and the over-all figure of absenteeism was around 10 percent on the general average, of which, to the best of our knowledge and belief, 6 percent was what might be termed "illegal absenteeism," and that was the only point to which I addressed my own testimony.
I again referred then and still believe that preventive medicine, in other words, any enactment of a statute by the Congress, will cure a large part of these diseases and it is my belief with reference to the Johnson bill as originally drafted, and also with reference to this present bill that the psychological effect on the whole industrythe labor situation in the United States will be materially aided and abetted, the war shortened, and by enactment by the Congress of legislation of this general character which would cover not necessarily a work-or-fight idea but bring home to every one of us the seriousness of this global war. And I do not know how to stress more than I have this "Eventually why not now” idea of this preventive medicine; with the Congress taking the leadership of this matter and putting it in front of the people of the United States rather than trying to do it peacemeal or by individual executive officers.
Now, as for the specific question you asked me, Mr. Chairman, this labor turn-over is something like death and taxes, it is always with 'us. But quantitatively it is altogether too great, and again trying to reduce ideas to a single phrase and using a term that is not very happy in its context, but nevertheless effectual, I say we ought to freeze relationships and if we do not like the term "freeze” then for God's sake let's stabilize these things and control them on a stabilized basis so that there won't be this tremendous labor turn-over and this pirating of labor and scamping of labor which in my judgment bills of this character will go far to relieve the situation. It is not going to cure it but definitely it will aid and abet and help. The percentage as I have indicated in my brief report here averages around 11 percent. In some cases they run considerably higher than that.
The CHAIRMAN. That is, absenteeism?
Admiral Land. Yes; the figures are not very far different. The specific cases that Mr. Smith mentioned, we have records of those but I would rather take the average rather than the extreme. But it is my
best judgment that this bill would go far to fundamentally ameliorate the labor turn-over.
The CHAIRMAN. We had another witness that even went so far as to say that on the Pacific coast, there had been a turn-over of 120 percent in the face of the fact that Mr. Smith told us that notwithstanding all of this turn-over the shipyards of the country had last year exceeded the 8,000,000-ton requirements of the Government in the production of tonnage. Do you understand they did go beyond the tonange figures set for them?
Admiral LAND. I most certainly do. It happens to be down our alley. We built 18,890,000 tons for the calendar year 1942.
The CHAIRMAN. How do you figure or explain that you were able to do that with so much labor turn-over or with such a high percentage even as 11 percent in the shipyards throughout the country generally!
Admiral LAND. We have in shipbuilding industry a shipbuilding stabilization committee and the Shipbuilding Stabilization Commission would control regionally the general subject of labor relations, wages, and so forth, throughout the United States based primarily on "no strikes,” “no lock-outs,” and what is known as the stabilization of wages which goes far to prevent labor turn-over and the pirating and scamp labor. That is one answer. The other is that we have a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and patriotism of the people in the United States. We are trying to do a job and I am speaking specifically of shipbuilding, being about the only thing that I know, and that accounts for the record that we made. But I hold no brief for the fact that we cannot do better. We should have done even better than that. We can do better. There is a lot of inefficiency. There are lots of delays and lags in even the best yards in the United States. And in the 60 yards that we have it is quite a matter of record in the Congress as well as in the press that there are some sour notes throughout them and when I tell you that we have in the employ of the Maritime Commission and the War Shipping Administration directly and indirectly nearly 2,000,000 people I make no apology for saying they are not all honest. Most of them. Most of them are patriotic. But there have been instances of hoarding of labor.
There have been instances of loafing and absenteeism and general inefficiency throughout the shipbuilding plants, I admit. And yet the accomplishment has been great despite these draw-backs. What we are trying to do and what you gentlemen are trying to do is to meet the situation, because it is serious and because we did fairly well last year. We have got to do 100 percent, in fact we have got to do nearly 150 percent more in 1943 to get on top of the situation, and by that I mean, to be specific, we have got to do that to get on top of the submarine situation because after all that is also down our alley and there is no use having production without protection, because that means destruction without delivery.
The CHAIRMAN. In other words, I understand you to say the situation is such now that you are going to require 20,000 additional personnel in Washington alone in connection with your program, or did you say that?
Admiral LAND. No; that figure is not as high as that, I hope, not in Washington. We have not any space to put them. It is 4,000 in