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Q. E. C. Bitzer made statement, taken from Manila Bulletin of December 16, “Shortly after the Hoover struck, members of the crew broke into the bar and into the ship's storeroom, stole liquor and food and blankets as well." What is your statement regarding that?-A. There was no necessity to break into bar and ship's storeroom, as there was plenty aboard, and they were sending stores ashore continually.
Q. Was there any injuries to passengers because of drunkenness.-A. Impossible to land them all without a single injury to any of them if anybody had been drunk.
Q. Regarding the men molesting the women and breaking into their quarters? This applying to stewards' department.-A. This was meant to apply to all departments. There were so many men standing around soaking wet and dead on their feet it was impossible. There was no lighting system and when the last two boatloads came ashore the men wandered up into the camp looking for a place to rest, and naturally opened the first door they came to. The passengers were in one place, not exactly a passengers' room, guarded by one of the ship's officers, and when the men stumbled in there, they were told by the officer where they were supposed to stay. Passengers were the only ones in sheltered quarters.
Q. Were the passengers given sufficient necessities ?-A. Passengers were given all the blankets and everything they needed, although they were soaked with fuel oil.
Q. Everything covered with fuel oil?-A. Yes; that is where quite a lot of the food got to.
Q. Please make a statement of all this as far as you are concerned and from your observation.-A. It is absolutely untrue. Three people, Bitzer, Mrs. Wilson, and Mrs. Salmon accountable for most of these statements. Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Salmon two little old-fashioned women who expected all the comforts of home, and Bitzer a "stuffed shirt.” Might have seen some seamen staggering and thought them under the influence of liquor, and if they were singing, all the more credit to them, even though it was Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here, What the Hell do We Care? It was said seamen cast off all discipline. There was no need for discipline so there was no discipline to cast off.
Q. The stewards' department took care of the passengers on the beach and served them?-A. Yes; but they couldn't serve them because there was only an earthen stove and you could put on only one pot and that was the only stove you could use. The best thing you could get was coffee and hardtack. No facilities to cook meat. Sea very rough; they couldn't get back to the ship, although boats were going to and fro all the time and part of the crew had stayed on the ship.
Q. How long were you on the beach? Rather, how long were the passengers on the beach?-A. Left the third day, on the McKinley.
Q. Were all removed on that third day?-A. Yes; with the exception of all of the crew the Pierce picked up from the beach on the other side of the island, the lee side, because the sea where the ship was grounded was so heavy, and then transferred them to the McKinley in Hong Kong 4 days later. Bitzer made a reference and said : "Crew dismally failed to live up to the traditions of the sea, and acted like a panic-stricken mob, and were more of a hindrance than a help in the work of abandoning ship.” He should be asked how he got ashore in one piece with all his baggage.
Q. How much baggage did the crew get?-A. About 35 percent of the crew got their baggage ashore.
Q. How many men of our department were left on board?-A. Left 13.
Q. A cook was left?-A. One of the crew cooks was left. Bitzer made a statement: “Once ashore the crew was entirely insubordinate, while the passengers of the Hoover were forced to subsist on scanty food, one meal a day in the case of many, the crew ate the best of food from the stores of the ship, slept in comfort under blankets and consoled themselves with plenty of liquor.”
There was nothing to be insubordinate about. As many as possible were trying to cook meals. We had one meal a day. Some men worked from 12 to 18 hours a day. The crew ate the best of food, that is, what was left after the passengers had eaten, as any that came ashore was given to them (the passengers) and when they were through the crew got what was left. The passengers slept in comfort while the crew slept on cement on board floors on porches.
Q. Raining down there then?-A. Yes.
Plenty of liquor was consumed by passengers. The physician was kept busy all night with passengers being drunk. There is a list of 12 passengers that were drunk all the time they were on the island. Of all the people who made the complaints none were what you could call really reliable people. Of those who would really count, were four people: Mr. Hugo Miller, of Manila, Mr. William Zeitlen, stock broker in Manila, Mr. Beck, department store owner in Manila, and Mrs. Beck.
All disputed statements that were made by the complaining passengers Said they did not see any drunkeness among the crew and under the circumstances they seemed to think they were treated as best as they could possibly be treated.
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 13th day of January, 1938. (SEAL]
ANNE F. HASLY,
Notary Public. My commission expires October 8, 1939.
STATEMENT OF JACK LAWRENSON, MEMBER OF THE EXECUTIVE
DISTRICT COMMITTEE, NATIONAL MARITIME UNION; CHAIRMAN OF THE NEGOTIATIONS COMMITTEE FOR THE NATIONAL MARITIME UNION, NEW YORK, N. Y.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Chairman, there is a gentleman here who wants to testify, because he has to get back to New York.
Senator Thomas of Utah. Please give your name and address and what you represent.
Mr. LAWRENSON. My name is Jack Lawrenson, member of the executive district coinmittee of the National Maritime Union, chairman of the negotiations committee for the National Maritime Union.
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, speaking for my own organization and for maritime workers generally, I think we have to approach this problem fundamentally from the vieivpoint of considering just where do the trade-unions stand in labor relations with trade in industry. I think our approach must be based on the experience of other nations.
The CHAIRMAN. Are you an American?
As outstanding examples, we have Australasia, including both Australia and New Zealand, and in particular we have the Scandinavian countries, where trade-unions have been accepted for countless years and have played a major role in the stabilization of industries, where the trade-unions have been free from governmental interference and, of their own accord, have helped and have established peaceful relations in industry. I think the same thing can be established in the United States, provided, of course, that the employers in all the industries accept this point of view, which is a civilized point of view and one which sooner or later practically every country in the world will be forced to adopt.
In the maritime industry in particular, organization of sentiment has been growing among American workers for the past 20 years. The International Seamen's Union prior to 1921 had considerable
strength. At that time the American merchant marine was operating and owned by the United States Government, through the United States Shipping Board. The relationship established there was quite peaceful; good conditions were obtained, and fairly decent wages. This relationship continued up until the 1921 strike, and following that depression.
Then came a long period of hard years, that we seamen refer to, when wages went down to as low as $30 a month, and with numerous instances where the companies were paying nothing, where men were being carried simply for their food and rotten food, at that, and were being signed on as “workaways," and then were being hired through disreputable places, and no attention was paid. Maritime conditions generally were ignored, both by the Government and by the public themselves, and the public was never aroused in the interests of the industry.
Following the N. R. A., the interest in the industry revived. Unfortunately, the International Seamen's Union had considerable strength along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and through the N. R. A. and dealings with the shipowners, in which the seamen had no interest whatever, they, the International Seamen's Union, were chosen as the official spokesmen for the seamen.
The sponsors of this bill claim that mediation is required because of the unrest in the industry and the many instances of bad discipline and instances of insubordination, and the numerous strikes. But apparently no thought has been given to the causes for these strikes and the reasons why they came about, in the first place. Those conditions responsible for the strikes were primarily intolerable conditions, conditions that were fostered and kept in existence by men who undoubtedly were unscrupulous, who were proven by the Black committee to be plundering the United States Treasury to the tune of millions of dollars, and who were not operating the ships in the interests of the American merchant marine. Today, these same men are asking that this legislation be passed.
The CHAIRMAN. What men are asking that the legislation be passed?
Mr. LAWRENSON. The shipping companies, I presume.
Mr. LAWRENSON. I do not presume so; but I know that the shipping companies are very much interested in it, and are asking that it be passed.
The CHAIRMAN. Not many of them.
The CHAIRMAN. Many of them were against it. So far as I know, this legislation is not favored by the shipping companies, unless the Maritime Commission is the agent of the shipowners. Is it?
Mr. LAWRENSON. We do not feel so; we feel that the shipowners have testified and asked for the passage of the mediation clauses in this bill.
The CHAIRMAN. You are speaking of that?
Mr. LAWRENSON. Agreements were signed by the International Seamen's Union on the assumption that they were the spokesman for the vast majority of the seamen along the Atlantic and Gulf coastsagreements which were not written by the seamen and did not improve working and living conditions, and hardly improved wages, or, rather, raised them very little. The members of the unions, feeling they were not getting a just deal, consequently had to strike back. And it is interesting to note that the shipping companies entered into these agreements knowingly, and knowing that the seamen had little or no voice regarding them. No answers were given, and consequently the strikes in 1936 and 1937.
Since that time the men have set up their own organization, along the Atlantic and Gulf, namely the National Maritime Union. This union is now legally constituted, and the men have adopted their own constitution, on the largest referendum ever conducted among maritime workers, to the tune of nearly 25,000 votes in the 2-months' referendum. The union officials are now in the process of being elected by that same referendum, too.
This union is now in the process of signing various agreements with the various shipping companies. The union is committed to the point of view that the industry needs stabilization, and is also committed to the view that the workers in the industry have just as much at stake as the operators of the ships, and also that the workers have something coming to them-decent standards of living and working, comparable to what it costs to live.
Comparisons have been made here between wages paid on American ships and those paid on foreign vessels. As a sailor who has sailed on the merchant ships of two nations, I can testify that the difference is very little. On Dutch ships the wage differential, even now, is very little. The Dutch seamen's wages, in terms of living costs, are even higher than those of American seamen. It has been said that wages are even higher on Australian ships, and living conditions much superior.
British ships have been held up as examples of lower wages. It has also been asked, “Why are not these decent working conditions provided by law ?”
British vessels have always carried almost double the number of men in their crews. American seamen are forced to work when the rules of other nations forbid it; men come on the night watches, after day work. The foreign seamen are forbidden to work, with the exception of standing wheel watches and taking care of the safe operation of the ships.
In the American ships, these things relating to safety and to the proper handling and operation of the ships have been ignored, and the men have been abused and forced to work at night; and lookouts have not been set. These abuses have continued; and the American seamen have, through their union, come into the picture-led by seamen and made up of seamen who are sincere in their efforts to stabilize the industry on a basis of a mutual understanding between the ship operators and the unions themselves. We feel this can be accomplished.
In the unions of today there are no charlatans, there are no professional mountebanks or professional labor leaders. They are men whose lives are definitely woven into the industry and who want to stabilize it, and who can do that if they are left alone.
In the record thus far a great deal has been said about the National Maritime Union and its alleged communistic leadership. Statements have been made that the men in the National Maritime Union are not seamen. Joseph Curran has been a seaman for nearly 16 years, active on American vessels. Joseph Myers has been an active seaman for the same length of time. Frank Jones, of the stewards' division, has been at sea 4 years; Moe Byne has been a member of the union for 20 years; Gelthwin Ryan has been at sea nearly 20 years; and Ralph Evans has been going to sea since 1921, actively up until a year and
a half ago.
Senator Thomas of Utah. Have you always served on the American merchant ships?
Mr. LAWRENSON. Since 1924. Prior to that time I served in the British merchant service.
Those are the men in the leadership of the new National Maritime Union.
Senator Thomas of Utah. Are any of these men Communists?
Mr. LAWRENSON. Not that we know of. Our Constitution guarantees political and religious freedom. We are not the slightest bit concerned with the political or religious beliefs of any of our members. All we ask is that they be members of the industry to which the union belongs; that entitles them to membership in our organization.
Some statements have been made in the record from time to time regarding the lack of discipline on the ships. Criticism has been made of the rotary system of shipping men, and a tremendous amount of misstatement and misunderstanding has been entertained here as to just what the rotary system stands for in the union halls. Nothing has been said of the background and of the former systems, of the way the shipowners for countless years have been hiring their people; nothing has been said of the fact that for years and years no effort has been made to give some sort of proper conditions in the places where seamen are hired. Practically all the shipping companies used one person as an employment manager.
Senator THOMAS of Utah. Before you leave that subject, let me ask you if you have heard the testimony regarding the eighty-odd changes on one boat.
Mr. LAWRENSON. Yes.
Senator THOMAS of Utah. Is that possible under the rules of the hiring halls ?
Mr. LAWRENSON. The seaman is free to leave his employment when articles are terminated, or on coastwise voyages when the ship touches one American point from another. That is the law. The reason why the turn-over is so large is not that the seamen wish to quit their jobs; but conditions are so bad on vessels that sometimes you ship in a hurry, and the ship sails, and you are only too glad to leave at the first port touched in the United States. On foreign voyages, perforce you must make the round-trip voyage.
Senator THOMAS of Utah. Do you know about the case where the testimony was given about the eighty-odd changes in the crew?
Mr. LAWRENSON. Dealing with what, sir?
Senator THOMAS of Utah. Dealing with approximately 80 changes between ports.
Mr. LAWRENSON. I know nothing about that.
To continue with the subject of the method of the shipowners for hiring: They had private employment agencies, who in most cases