« PreviousContinue »
not tie in today. There is no precedent for it in any labor movement in the world.
So, my answer to you would be that you men should get together and decide how you want the job done, but get at the job, because it is going to be pressing for us. We do not care which way you do it, as long as you get it done.
The CHAIRMAN. All right. Mr. SHERIDAN. Your attitude would be to pass the Smith bill as a substitute for the Wagner Act?
Mr. WILSON. It would be patching it up to make it livable during the war, if you want to put it that way.
Mr. SHERIDAN. That is all.
Mr. HARNESS. Mr. Wilson, I think most of us, or a good many of us at least, appreciate your situation. You have an immediate problem, and you want it solved by the Congress. It has got to be by law. You are not particularly interested in any one of these problems. What you want to do is bring your problem to the attention of Congress and let us either amend the Wagner Labor Relations Act, which will give you this relief, or else pass some other act that will give it to you immediately during the war; is that right? Mr. WILSON. That is right.
Mr. HARNESS. You have, as I see it, not only an immediate problem but you have one after the war, and it is the very same thing; is that not true?
Mr. WILSON. Yes. Most people do not realize that we are partly making our post-war pattern during the war. In other words, many of the kinds of things we are doing during the war will determine our problems in the post-war world.
Mr. HARNESS. If we pass some temporary legislation during the time of war we will still have the same thing when the war is over?
Mr. WILSON. You would likely have it, except perhaps that your administrative procedure would be broad enough and would be generally accepted by the country that it is not the right thing to do anyhow, and it would not be brought up again. All you need to do is change one man on that Board, and you will have another answer.
Mr. HARNESS. It is your view, as I understand it from your statement here, and perhaps also the view of the industry you represent, that the substantive law should be clarified so that such decisions cannot be made as was made by the National Labor Relations Board, in which there was a dissenting opinion?
Mr. WILSON. That is correct.
Mr. FENTON. Then, Mr. Wilson, referring to one of the questions asked you a few moments ago, you are convinced that if this legislation is not passed, the war effort will be sabotaged ?
Mr. Wilson. Well, you are using some tough words. If you take them as your words, all right; I do not like to accuse anybody of sabotage. That is a pretty serious matter. I say that the efficiency of the war production would be very, very seriously interfered with,
and we would have more trouble. We would get out less production, and there would be more talk and less work. As I say, there is already pretty much of an argument about who will not do the work and how much he will get paid for not doing it.
Mr. FENTON. I believe you said something about 20 percent of the work being hindered.
Mr. WILSON. That is about what the workmen's union did to industry, and I think this would take another cut off in about the same way. Mr. FENTON. That is all. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Philbin?
Mr. PHILBIN. Mr. Wilson, to what extent, if any, has the war effort been interfered with up to this time by the existence of this single foremen's union in your plant?
Mr. Wilson. In magnitude of the whole thing, it is not a very big percentage. It has already taken up quite a lot of the time of some of us who have many important things to do. The real bottleneck of this war production program is the folks who know how to organize and get things done, and there are not enough of us, and we are all very busy.
Mr. PHILBIN. Could you give me a rough idea of just how many foremen you have in your plants?
Mr. WILSON. We have 19,254.
Mr. PHILBIN. So, if this bill were passed or if the Wagner Act were changed so as to prohibit the organization of foremen, at least 19,000 men in your plants would be deprived of their right of collective bargaining?
Mr. WILSON. Did they ever have the right?
Mr. PHILBIN. Well, they would be in a position where they would not be able to bargain collectively with those who employ them?
Mr. WILSON. That is correct. "Do you think they should ?
Mr. Wilson. Where are you going to stop it? Are you going to have the whole country go into a union and then have a Socialist state!
Mr. PHILBIN. Without getting into an argument about it, I think it is a very serious thing when you ask to deprive such a large number of men of their right to change their hours, wages, or working conditions, or anything else.
Mr. WILSON. What is your alternative!
Mr. PHILBIN. Is it your plan to deprive them of relief when they want to make a protest against low wages or undesirable or unfavorable working conditions ?
Mr. Wilson. I do not understand your point of view so quickly: I do not know whether you are arguing for a Socialist state or what you are driving at.
Mr. PHILBIN. I am not arguing for a socialistic state.
Mr. WILSON. A foreman operates on his own. From there on up our foremen are of different levels and different abilities. They have started up the ladder of advancement as individuals in the free enterprise system. That is what we believe in industry. If you believe in something else, you will naturally look at it differently.
Mr. PHILBIN. I believe in the free enterprise system, and I appreciate your problem; but I wonder what alternative you can pro
vide if you deprive these foremen of the right to deal collectively with the executive branch of the management, which you claim they are a part of. I wonder what your alternative proposal is, or your proposal as a substitute for collective bargaining.
Mr. WILSON. I do not propose any substitute. I do not think you need any substitute for it.
Mr. PHILBIN. You simply think this group, which is a very sizeable group, should be deprived of the right to bargain collectively!
Mr. WILSON. I do not think they have the right now. I do not think that when the law was framed there was any intention to give this kind of folks any rights under the law. It does not state what their obligations would be. I would like to remind you that these 19,000 foremen are in 104 different plants in 46 cities and 13 States, working for General Motors. They have not the common continuity of interest; they cannot be regimented like workmen; their wages cannot be standardized in any respect. Their pay and their working onditions cannot be. They are different. Any of these men, if they do not want to take the step as part of management, can continue as workmen.
Mr. PHILBIN. Generally how much higher are their wages per day than your highest paid workmen?
Mr. Wilson. Twenty-five percent or a little bit more. That is the lower run. Then, from there they go on up, depending on their merit and ability.
The CHAIRMAN. With all proper regard, Mr. Philbin, I think the part of the question about what the wages are is irrelevant. We are trying to figure out something with relation to collective bargaining and the collective bargaining statute.
Mr. Wilson. I think it comes back to this: Do you believe in the American free enterprise system, under which a man ought to be promoted in management on the basis of merit and ability; or do you think he ought to be promoted by group pressure on a seniority basis?
Mr. PHILBIN. Do you think it is part of the American free enterprise system to deprive a man of his right to bargain and improve his wages and conditions of labor?
Mr. WILSON. Not the workmen; but these men are part of management. With whom are they going to bargain? Mr. HARNESS. Will the gentlemen yield for one question? Mr. PHILBIN. I yield.
Mr. HARNESS. I wonder if you can have a free enterprise system if you are going to turn industry over to Government or Government agencies.
The CHAIRMAN. That is a question. Is there anything further, Mr. Philbin?
Mr. PHILBIN. That is all, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. The Chair would like to propound a few questions. Prior to the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, were there such things as company unions in your different plants throughout your industry, made up largely of the management?
Mr. Wilson. No, there were no company unions. Under the Wolman Board we had a scheme of what was proposed as proportional representation. The different companies where the men wanted to
do it had elections, and a certain number of them said they wanted to go with the A. F. of L. or that they wanted to go with somebody else. But the men as a whole had a committee. How that committee was formed was a matter for this Wolman Board to determine; and then we dealt with the men on any of their problems or grievances.
The CHAIRMAN. What I am driving at is this: Due to your widespread connection with all the industry of the country, in dealing with the products you handle, are you aware of the fact that there were such things as were known as company unions among the industries of the country, particularly the coal industry?
Mr. WILSON. That is right.
The CHAIRMAN. As a matter of fact, the National Industrial Recovery Act was passed for the purpose of guranteeing, and did guarantee, the right of collective bargaining, enabling a legitimate union of workers to bargain with management?
Mr. WILSON. That is right.
The CHAIRMAN. Going back to the question of the conflict between management, which is made up of the foremen and the other supervisory personnel, on the one side, and the workers, on the other side, if the union were permitted to organize the personnel of the supervisory staff, would not that directly interfere with the right of collective bargaining?
Mr. Wilson. Well, the unions formerly thought so. They used to be afraid of the greater experience and generally superior ability of foremen. That is the only way they got to be foremen. They were the ablest available men, who had the right attitude, knew how to handle people, and knew how to get things done. The unions did not want those people to come into their organizations for fear that those people would take their unions over and run them.
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Burke the other day read into the record a paragraph from the agreement of the United Mine Workers of America with certain coal operators regarding the prohibiting of membership to supervisory personnel. I believe you said that as to the 565,000 workers in your plants you have that kind of contract which now contains that kind of clause?
Mr. WILSON. I will read it to you.
For the purposes of this agreement the term "employee” shall include all production and maintenance employees and mechanical employees in engineering department shops in the bargaining units covered hereby, except employees of sales, accounting, personnel, and industrial relations departments, superintendents and assistant superintendents, general foremen, foremen and assistant foremen, and all other persons working in a supervisory capacity including those having the right to hire or discharge and those whose duties include recommendations as to hiring or discharging (but not leaders), and those employees whose work is of a confidential nature, time study men, plant protection employees (but not to include maintenance patrolmen or fire patrolmen), all clerical employees, chief engineers and shift operating engineers in power plants, designing (drawing board), production, estimating and planning engineers, draftsmen and detailers, physicists, chemists, metallurgists, artists, designer-artists, and clay plaster modelers, timekeepers, technical school students, indentured apprentices and those technical or professional employees who are receiving training, kitchen and cafeteria help.
The CHAIRMAN. What is the date of that contract?
The CHAIRMAN. What is the duration of it? How long does it still have to run?
Mr. WILSON. To the same date this year. I would like to say for the record also that the other corporations in the automotive industry have similar provisions and definitions of who is eligible under their agreements with what we call the workers' union.
The CHAIRMAN. I believe your position is simply stated in a very short sentence like this: That having contracts to perform, the obligation is on the management under those contracts to produce the product required; and it is your belief that along with the responsibility to produce should go the authority to direct.
Mr. Wilson. That is correct; and the only local vehicle we have for carrying out the obligations under these contracts with the men is the first line of supervision.
The CHAIRMAN. I am talking about your contracts with the United States Government to produce so many tanks, trucks, and airplanes. If you do not have the authority to direct the work in your supervisory capacity, you cannot guarantee that the contracts will be performed ?
Mr. Wilson. That would be true if the chaos got bad enough. Of course we would not make good on it. In fact, I told one gentleman here in Washington who has an important responsibility for the country's war effort that he had better study up on this labor business if he wants to be on the job, for he is likely to have a couple of war plants to operate.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Wilson, we thank you very much for your excellent statement.
Mr. Wilson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The CHAIRMAN. Gentlemen, we have as the next witness Mr. Clarence B. Randall, vice president of the Inland Steel Co. I might add that he has a very fine coal plant in my home county.
I hope the committee will remain, for there are some matters that I want to take up with you at the close of this hearing.
STATEMENT OF CLARENCE B. RANDALL, VICE PRESIDENT, INLAND
STEEL CO., CHICAGO ILL.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Randall, will you tell us your connection and state whom you represent?
Mr. RANDALL. Mr. Chairman, my name is Clarence B. Randall. I am vice president of the Inland Steel Co., independent producers of steel in the Chicago area. I assure the committee that I shall trespass on its time for only a very few minutes. I am very sorry that all the members did not hear what the chairman said about our coal mine. I never miss a chance to get in a small plug. [Laughter.]
The CHAIRMAN. I will say that it is one of the finest in America.
Mr. RANDALL. I take it that the chairman selected his district with reference to the coal.
I have no thought that I can tell you anything new or add to what Mr. Wilson has said so exhaustively, but I do want to emphasize by being here the interest that the steel industry and my company have in this very important subject matter.