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Conditions on American ships are well ahead of those on craft of other nations, Mr. McFee said, with better manning scales, wages, and food. The force needed to turn young men to the sea as they were 15 years ago is a return of the tradition of individual enterprise and of personal record to resist collective trends in which the individual is submerged in a class of nominal equals.
The youth who went to sea 15 years ago, he said, now turn to aviation and other land occupations having greater power to lure them as individuals trying to get to the top. A swing of the pendulum back to individualism at sea may be expected, however, he said.
A ship at sea is peculiarly dependent upon the efficiency, or lack of it, of its crew personnel. A condition conceivably might arise which, if the crew members folded their arms and refused to work, the vessel or its cargo or both might be lost. The verdict of the Baltimore court, restating as it does the spirit of Calvin Coolidge's famous ultimatum in the Boston police strike that there is no justification for striking against public safety "by anyone, anywhere, anytime" should be a conspicuous landmark by which decisions in similar cases in the future may be guided.
[Times (Republican). Los Angeles, Calif., January 7, 1938)
MORE TROUBLE AT SEATTLE
As if Dave Beck were not enough handicap for one city, a C. I. 0. union using Beck tactics has tied up the port of Seattle in a dispute over "made work.”
The longshoremen refuse to move cargo directly from one vessel to another. They say the cargo must be unloaded on a wharf and then reloaded on the second ship, requiring an extra-and totally unnecessary-handling.
The C. I. (. must be trying to make Beck seem reasonable by contrast.
Just how reasonable Beck is disposed to be, however, is disclosed in sworn testimony before United States District Judge James. Beck, it appears, wasn't even satisfied with having brewery-truck drivers join his Teamsters' Union; he demanded that they quit the Brewery Workers' Union so he could have exclusive and absolute control of them.
For what purpose he wanted that control was not gone into, but the public is allowed three guesses.
[Post-Intelligencer (Independent), Seattle, Wash., January 7, 1938]
END THIS DISPUTE-OPEN OUR Port ! The irony—and the shame of the present tie-up of the port of Seattle is that the entire controversy involves the transfer of a few tons of cargo from the little steamer Border Prince.
The operators of the vessel say that they should be allowed to transfer a portion of its cargo directly to another ship, using the labor of the Border Prince crew.
The longshoremen say the cargo should be transferred from the Border Prince to the dock, and from the dock to the other ship, and that the longshoremen should make the transfer. A few hours' work for a handful of men is all that is directly involved.
The longshoremen and employers are bound by a contract that provides for arbitration. Each side charges the other with violation of the contract.
Meanwhile, because of this picayunish controversy, all ships bound for Seattle are being diverted to other ports and shipping here is at a standstill.
Senseless disputes of this sort, working grave hardships on workers, business, and the public generally, will simply feed the growing clamor for Government interference in industrial disputes.
It should be unnecessary to point out that both sides will lose heavily if the controversy goes on.
What is more important, business in Seattle and throughout the Pacific Northwest will suffer.
During the past year Seattle has done much to repair its reputation, largely umdeserved, as a city rife with labor disturbances. A new spirit of cooperation and mutual understanding has been developed between employers and workers.
The waterfront should not be allowed to destroy our era of better feeling.
A petty dispute over the transfer of a few tons of cargo from one small sound steamer to another must not be permitted to paralyze the business of our region.
[Post-Intelligencer (Independent), Seattle, Wash., January 6, 1938]
A GOOD PLACE TO COOPERATE-Now
Seattle's water-front tie-up comes as a rude challenge to our efforts to restore business.
The employer and labor groups involved in the present controversy owe it to Seattle settle their dispute without delay.
And organized business and organized labor generally will be consulting their own interests, as well as national interests, by aiding the contending parties to make peace promptly.
The Seattle water front is a particularly poor place for a tie-up today.
On Monday President Roosevelt proffered the friendly cooperation of Gorernment, and asked the cooperation of business and labor in solving our domestic problems generally.
Within the last 2 days public authorities have taken these definite steps toward rebuilding North Pacific shipping business :
Acceding to the requests of port authorities and shipping interests, the United States Maritime Commission has scheduled a hearing on Puget Sound to deal with the formal establishment of foreign-trade routes.
Port authorities of the State have organized for united action in behalf of the region's shipping interests.
Chairman Kennedy, of the Maritime Commission, is on his way here, with a staff of experts, to consult with local authorities on all pending problems.
Senator Schwellenbach, with the approval of the Maritime Commission, has presented a plan for the restoration of shipbuilding in this region.
And what have business and labor done, along the Seattle water front, to cooperate with Government in restoring shipping ?
They have developed a new labor dispute, halting the movement of all cargo, foreign, coastwise, and to Alaska.
The general response to President Roosevelt's helpful, temperate plea for national unity has been heartening.
Thoughtful leaders generally have approved his logic. The stock market has improved its tone. In Alabama, in spite of a campaign directed at the administration wages-and-hours bill, a New Deal senatorial candidate wins, 2-to-1, over the once powerful Tom Heflin.
It is plain that Government cannot wait, indefinitely, for the active cooperation of business and labor in setting domestic affairs in order.
In the concluding paragraphs of his Monday message the President said:
“Government has a final responsibility for the well-being of the citizen. If private cooperative endeavor fails to find work for willing hands and relief for the unfortunate, those suffering hardship from no fault of their own have a right to call upon the Government for aid; and a government worthy of its name will make fitting response."
This is no ultimatum, but a sober statement of accepted truths.
If capital and labor fail, nationally, to do their part in restoring business, the Government will have to enlarge its field of activities.
Leaders of business and leaders of organized labor could find no better opportunity to demonstrate their responsibility than to pitch in and end the Seattle water-front tie-up.
[Evening Sun (Independent Democrat), Baltimore, Md., January 6, 1938)
Out on the west coast they're still having labor troubles, with the harbor of Seattle being tied up in a dispute between the Waterfront Employers' Association and the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union. Loading and unloading of all ships ceased at noon yesterday. Matt Meehan, secretary of the I. L. and W. U., calls it a “sit-down strike on the part of employers,” and that is what it really is.
The dispute arose over the question of slingloading. Longshoremen have tried to prevent small ships from mooring alongside larger ships and taking on or transfering cargo by means of slings. They argue that all cargoes must first be loaded onto a wharf before being transferred. This entails two slingload handlings and employment of more men. The employers' answer is “One slingload or nothing."
Hitherto employers on the west coast have tended to throw up their hands when faced with these unending labor disputes. It is interesting to note that they now have developed a weapon and that this weapon is the familiar and effective device so often used by labor.
[Times-Union (Independent Democrat), Jacksonville, Fla., January 3, 1938)
TROUBLE AT SEA
No doubt the unions want white gloves furnished to the workers and a radio in each suite occupied by a sailor-but principally they want the laws to make it impossible for anybody to work on a ship or ashore without a union label and receipts to show that they have paid money regularly to Mr. Green's or Mr. Lewis' organization treasurers.
The maritime laws ought to somehow fix it so that men signing for a cruise on a ship be required to complete their contract unless physically unable to do so. The American unions, which have made so much trouble, ever since organized, ought to be responsible for what they do.
[Journal (Republican), Lincoln, Nebr., January 1, 1938)
OUR MERCHANT MARINE
Indicating the attitude of organized seamen toward the efforts of the Gorernment to improve conditions is the statement made by Joseph Curran, leader of the National Maritime Union, a C. I. 0. affiliate. He declares Kennedy's statement to be “a smoke screen to push through legislation to deny the seamen their constitutional right to organize and bargain collectively for decent wages and living conditions."
Importance of the merchant marine is emphasized by a statement by Admiral Leahy, who says "an adequate American merchant marine manned by Americans is as much a part of our national defense as the guns on our battleships."
In the meantime, the merchant marine is losing prestige, trade, and profits because of present conditions. Something must be done and that very soon. Many are now fearful of patronizing a service that is manned by discontented and trouble-fomenting crews.
[Christian Science Monitor, Boston, Mass., December 31, 1937)
The setting up of a labor Mediation Board such as that proposed in the Maritime Commission's report to Congress should do much to overcome labor's resentment over the harsh treatment accorded it under inadequate shipping
laws. Such a step is bound to bolster the self-respect of prospective beneficiaries. But most important is the spirit of good will these essential legal reforms are likely to create. Good feeling between employers and workers will do much to improve morale and discipline among American seamen.
[News (Independent), Greensboro, N. C., December 29, 1937]
A NEGLECTED INVESTMENT
The situation with respect to coastal and inland water-borne commerce bears much similarity to the other, one fundamental difference being that the Federal Government has expended immense sums on the improvement of waterways. This investment is strangely neglected. And yet the considerations which have governed in making the investment through the decades are just as strong today as they ever were.
Latterly the same acute affliction which besets the ocean-going merchant marine has been added to the plight of the domestic lines, and the effect has been fatal in numerous instances. The Fall River Line, after 90 years of operation, went out of business recently along with a sit-down strike. Other lines that continue the struggle have been subjected to periods of suspension.
This is a situation that disputes the claims of this country to possession of business intelligence, of economic enterprise.
As for the political troubles, the infiltration of radicalism, it may be that nothing much can be done at present. This phase will pass if the Republic endures, and we have no doubt that it will endure. Here is a great opportunity for a new start, a repentance for and repair of wasted treasure and wasted opportunity.
Strikes along the seaboards affect the men in the streets of inland towns, of course, although they may have slight understanding of causes. They want to know what is wrong, however, so that they can form opinions.
Men who may never smell the sea cherish the traditions of the Constitution, of Tripoli, and John Paul Jones.
If American sailormen want to mutiny the land-bound want to know the answers.
(Oregonian (Independent Republican), Portland, Oreg., December 28, 1937]
It is useless to talk of building up an American merchant marine under such conditions. Discipline has broken down on American steamers. It cannot be restored or enforced so long as the unions are allowed practically complete control of the crews, such as now exists and is mandatory under the Wagner law. Not one cent of Government money should be appropriated for steamship bonuses in any form until this situation is corrected.
[Spokesman-Review (Independent Republican), Spokane, Wash., December 27, 1937]
SEAMEN'S UNIONS SANK OUR MERCHANT MARINE
This Nation needs a merchant marine, to transport its produce in peace and to fortify its fighting Navy in war. The United States Maritime Commission under the chairmanship of P. P. Kennedy, former head of the S. E. C. and now slated as Ambassador to Great Britain, proposes a Government expenditure of $176,000,000 in the next 5 years, with a $75,000,000 shipbuilding program for the next 18 months. Last week the Commission called for bids on 12 steel cargo ships, to cost between $18,000,000 and $23,000,000, as the first major step in its goal-to build 92 ships "urgently needed" by 1942.
Quickly that program ran upon two reefs. The New York Maritime Council, a federation of seamen's unions, seized the Commission's report as a basis for demands for Government ownership and operation and Chairman Copeland (Democrat, New York) of the Senate Commerce Committee declared, December 17, “I personally would not vote one cent for ship construction until we definitely have established peaceful relations on the high seas. If labor wants to strike and picket and have collective bargaining on shore, why, God bless 'em! But on shipboard there must be one master--the captain."
The Maritime Commission's report and these quick reactions are further proof of the folly of trying to compete with low-wage foreign ships while we conștantly increase the cost of operating American ships, with high wages, easy working conditions, and bountiful fare aboard ship that are not found on competing foreign ships.
[Tribune-Herald, Waco, Tex., December 26, 1937]
OUR MERCHANT MARINE
What is wrong with the merchant marine of America? Why is it that crews of American ships are constantly staging demonstrations in foreign waters or foreign ports? Is it because they are lower paid than the crews of other nations?
Perhaps Mr. Harry Bridges and his henchmen on the West coast can provide the answer. In his efforts to seize complete control of all maritime unions liaving agreements with American ships, so far he has let Australian and British craft alone.
There is no question but that labor conditions on some American ships hare been unsatisfactory But it transcends reason to assume that all relations of American owners with the unions and their crews have been unsatisfactory.
Obviously somewhere, whether the seamen themselves are unaware of it or not, there is under way an effort to sabotage American shipping.
Nothing else can explain the peculiar happenings on some of these ressels.
(Dispatch-Herald (Independent Republican), Erie, Pa., December 26, 1937]
Mr. Kennedy, who is no way to blame for the state of affairs, admits his' discouragment by confessing that the American merchant marine is in extremely bad shape.
Indeed, things are so evidently desperate, that Senator Copeland understated when he said there is no hope for an upbuilding as long as present conditions (featured on both coasts by repeated sit-downs, riots, and stoppages of transportation) continue. Unless something is done the merchant marine of the United States faces deterioration, ruin, and extinction.
(Bee (Independent), Sacramento, Calif., December 25, 1937]
A jury in Baltimore has convicted 14 members of the crew of the steamer Algic of mutiny growing out of a recent sit-down strike at Montevideo, Uruguay.
Such conduct, of course, should be outlawed. But that is not enough.
What is needed is legislation for the settlement of maritime labor disputes so they cannot arise in foreign ports-legislation similar to that used to adjust controversies between the management and men on the transportation lines of the country. Therein it also should be specified that such disputes can be brought up only in the home port. After a ship has left American waters the word of the commanding officer must be final. Sit-down strikes on the high seas or in foreign ports are intolerable.