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HEARING ON H. R. 6133, AUTHORIZING OVERTIME PAY FOR CERTAIN EMPLOYEES OF THE NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE FOR AERONAUTICS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON NAVAL AFFAIRS,
Washington, D. C., Thursday, January 22, 1942. The committee met at 10 a. m., Hor. Carl Vinson (chairman), presiding
The CHAIRMAN. Members of the committee, Dr. Lewis and Mr. Victory, are present. Dr. Lewis is the Director of Aeronautical Research and Mr. Victory is the secretary of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the organization which has contributed probably more to the advancement of aviation than any other organization in the country.
We are glad to have you here this morning and you want to talk to us in regard to H. R. 6133. A similar Senate bill, S. 2112, was. passed on January 20. This bill reads:
(H. R. 6133, 77th Cong., 1st Sess.] A BILL Authorizing overtime pay for certain employees of the National Advisory Committee for Aero
nautics Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That compensation for employment in excess of forty hours in any administrative workweek computed at a rate of one and onehalf times the regular rate is hereby authorized to be paid, under such regulations as the President may prescribe, to those employees in the field service of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics whose overtime services are essential to the national defense program and whose duties are determined by the President to be comparable to the duties of those employees of the War Department, the Navy Department, and the Coast Guard, for whom overtime compensation is authorized under existing law and regulations: Provided, That in determining the overtime compensation of per annum employees the base pay for one day shall be considered to be one three-hundred-and-sixtieth of the respective per annum salaries.
SEC. 2. The provisions of this Act shall be effective during the national emergency declared by the President on September 8, 1939, to exist, and shall terminate June 30, 1943, unless the Congress shall otherwise provide.
Now, is that similar to the Senate bill?
STATEMENTS OF DR. GEORGE W. LEWIS, DIRECTOR OF AERO
NAUTICAL RESEARCH, AND JOHN F. VICTORY, SECRETARY,
Dr: LEWIS. I would like to have Mr. Victory make the preliminary statement. 66266—42-No. 171
The CHAIRMAN. Very well.
Mr. VICTORY. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, in its legislative status, comes under the jurisdiction of the House Naval Affairs Committee and the Senate Military Affairs Committee. That is the result of a parliamentary ruling years ago, because of the vital nature of its work in relationship both to the Army and Navy.
In the operation of the N. A. C. A. laboratories, we must be able to compete with conditions as they exist. We are now trying to hold our employees at the normal per annum rates of pay that we pay our personnel in accordance with the Classification Act; but, in the vicinity, the Army and Navy and industry are offering and paying time and a half for overtime.
Congress has recently authorized a material expansion in the personnel of the N. A. C. A. of more than 100 percent. We are having extreme difficulty in recruiting personnel at the regular per annum rates of pay fixed in the Classification Act, because they can earn
We are also having difficulty in holding our present personnel. We are suffering losses that are really hurting our organization. Last month, December, we lost 30 employees; we have lost about 120 since the 1st of July.
It is possible for our employees, without giving up their residences where they are, to take employment in the shipyard, for example, and earn approximately an average of one-third more pay.
Now, Mr. Chairman, we could meet the problem by raising salaries. We do not propose to do that, because that becomes a permanent charge on the Government. It is more effective to do it on the temporary basis proposed. If we are authorized to pay overtime, we can meet the problem and, for that extra money that the Government will pay the employees, we will get extra service; whereas, if we merely raise their pay, there would be no extra service rendered.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Victory, this only applies to field employees? Mr. VICTORY. Only to field employees.
The CHAIRMAN. It is identically the same principle that we have established with reference to certain kinds of technical groups in the Navy field service?
Mr. VICTORY. It is identical.
The CHAIRMAN. It does not apply to anyone down here who works at headquarters?
Mr. VICTORY. That is correct.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, you have about 1,800 employees, have you not, in the field ?
Mr. VICTORY. Yes, sir,
Mr. VICTORY. We lost 30 in December and we have lost about 120 since the first of July.
The CHAIRMAN. Briefiy, tell the committee the scope of the work that the organization does.
Mr. Victory. I think Dr. Lewis, Director of Research, could better answer that.
Dr. LEWIS. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, you all know there has been a tremendous advance in the performance of aircraft. We have got to match or better the performance of the enemy. satisfied with speeds of around 300 miles per hour for pursuit airplanes a year or so ago; but now it has got to be at least 400 miles an hour. We were satisfied with 30 caliber machine guns; but now it has to be cannon. The weight of the pursuit airplane has increased from around 6,000 to 7,000 pounds, up to 11,000 or 12,000 pounds.
To increase the speed from 300 to 400 miles per hour is a tremendous undertaking. The very foundation of success of the air activity is in the research laboratory We must solve the problems that will make it possible to fly pursuit airplanes 400 miles an hour or better, and some, now designed for the Army and Navy, at — miles an hour. Our ' bombers are now being designed for speeds of somewhere around
miles an hour. All the research work is being done at the N. A. C. A. Laboratory at Langley Field. The laboratory is engaged 100 percent on Army and Navy problems. Unless this work is done, unless we obtain the airplane performances we should obtain, our air effort is going to be partially wasted. I might mention in particular
The CHAIRMAN. Now, do not tell any military secrets that you do not want published.
Dr. LEWIS. Well, I might mention, gentlemen, the operation of the laboratory. The Army or Navy, for example, decides on a new type of military airplane. They want it to fly at a certain speed, to carry a certain weight of bombs, or to carry a certain number of cannon. Then they call together the manufacturers' designers, who are going to work on that, and we have a joint conference at Langley Field with our technical people to determine, Can this airplane be built; can it meet this performance? We go over it very carefully and say "We will have to investigate this, this, and this, before we can tell. Then we make a model, conduct the investigation, and decide whether and how it can be done. The model of the airplane is the prototype, you might say, of the first airplane to be built by the manufacturer
I can say we have been very successful; we have been able to meet the requests of the Army and Navy for design requirements to meet their speed and performance requirements. And when we realize the tremendous amount of money and effort now being expended on our aircraft effort and that this is the foundation or the fountainhead on which the whole aircraft program is based, I think, gentlemen, this request we are making to preserve our technical personnel is very logical
Mr. Maas. Is the main purpose of the bill to permit you to pay a higher compensation during this emergency, in order to compete with private industry and other Government agencies, or is it to permit you to work more than 40 hours?
Dr. LEWIS. Both.
Mr. VICTORY. We are. We are not inhibited by law from working more than 40 hours. But may I add, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen: The situation is so delicate, with respect to a number of our highly trained and experienced mechanics, that we have been appealing to their loyalty and holding out to them the hope that Congress would put them in the same status as civil field employees of the Army and Navy. If we were now to order an increase in the number of hours, without increasing the pay, it would be an unfortunate administrative action. I think we would have a wholesale exodus
to the navy yards and ship yards, and our effectiveness would be seriously impaired.
Mr. Maas. I can see your point. I am violently opposed to paying overtime to anybody in time of war, but that is our fault and not yours; but you are faced with an actual competitive situation, are you not?
Dr. LEWIS. Yes.
Mr. Maas. And you do believe, if we give you this legislation, you will be able to hold the most of your research people?
Dr. LEWIS. We do believe that.
Mr. MAAS. How much additional money would this mean by paying time and a half? For instance, if they want to take a day off, can they take it off in the middle of the week and then work on Sunday and get time and a half for Sunday, so as to earn more compensation?
Mr. VICTORY. The details will be governed by the Executive order which will be prepared by the Bureau of the Budget.
As to the extra cost, I may say we are authorized by Congress now, and funds have been appropriated, to hire a great many additional employees. We are having difficulty in recruiting them. If this bill becomes law, we can secure the equivalent of 25 percent of our additional needs merely be extending the work hours that much and, if you please, we will get that additional 25 percent of productive effort at not one-and-a-half times the cost for the additional hours beyond 40 per week, but at a fraction of the cost, the fraction being 89.4 percent of the present cost. This is so because our employees are per annum employees, and time-and-a-half does not mean for per annum employees what it means for per diem employees.
Mr. Maas. Even if you do this, you still won't be able to pay your employees equal to what they could get in outside industry.
Mr. VICTORY. That is correct; it will not be the same rate or amount as per diem employees in a Navy Yard, for example, receive for the same number of hours.
Mr. Maas. The most of your people are research people and, if they can get somewhere near comparable pay, they will stay with you because they love to do research work; is that not correct?
Dr. LEWIS. That is correct.
Mr. Maas. But you consider this legislation is essential to hold your organization together and to carry out your mission?
Di. LEWIS. Absolutely.
Mr. Maas. Even repealing time and a half throughout the whole system would not help you; it still would not put you on a competitive basis?
Mr. VICTORY. If they repeal time and a half for everybody?
Mr. Maas. I do not suppose we can repeal it; but it just seems utterly ridiculous to me, in time of war, to be paying time and a half overtime beyond 40 hours a week.
Mr. Victory. I might say the N. A. C. A. is opposed to the principle of paying time and a half for overtime in the Government, but we are confronted with conditions that make it necessary.
Mr. Maas. The time-and-a-half originally was for the purpose of spreading employment; it was not to pay an extra wage, but was a penalty upon employers for working people more than 40 hours instead
of hiring more people to do the work; but, in your case, there is an actual shortage of the people you have to get?
Dr. LEWIS. That is right.
The CHAIRMAN. I thoroughly agree with Mr. Maas in reference to the principle of paying time-and-a-half for overtime; but, unfortunately, it is around our necks and we have to put you in the same position. Mr. MAAS. I agree with you.
The CHAIRMAN. And we might just as well go ahead and do it, because, in my judgment, you have contributed and your organization has contributed as much as any scientific group in America, in the development of aviation.
Now, what year did we establish your organization?
Dr. Lewis. No. I was not with the organization then.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; I remember Mr. Victory used to come here when Mr. Butler was chairman.
Mr. VICTORY. I did, sir,
Mr. Maas. Just to show the relative importance of this organization and what they have been doing; Doctor, how many comparable research laboratories does Germany have, to your knowledge? You were in Germany and went through a number of them?
Dr. LEWIS. Yes. They have two comparable research laboratories and three other ones that are smaller.
Mr. Maas. And you have been doing all your research with just one laboratory?
Dr. LEWIS. Until recently, with just one laboratory; yes.
Mr. COLE. Are the people down at Langley Field considered field employees?
Dr. LEWIS. Yes.
Mr. COLE. So that all those folks down there would be affected by this bill?
Dr. LEWIS. Yes.
Mr. Cole. Where do you have other people who might be affected by it?
Dr. LEWIS. At the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory at Moffett Field, Calif., and at the Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory, at Cleveland, Ohio.
Mr. COLE. What concerns are competing with you for this type of labor? Are they private concerns?
Dr. Lewis. Both private and governmental.
Mr. COLE. I had supposed there was some kind of law, or ruling, or order, that no industry could take a skilled worker from another defense industry without their permission.
The CHAIRMAN. Ob, no; they rob each other all they can.
Mr. COLE. Then whatever practice there is in that regard is by a voluntary understanding?