Page images
PDF
EPUB

Into that ferment has drifted another very important and affirmative element which has for its purpose the increase of discontent in the Navy and in the merchant marine. That is organized, I know. In the stenographic report of the last meeting of the Communist International, held in Moscow during the summer of 1935, you will find—and that report is available as a public document; I do not have it here with me, but it is available—that the maritime strike on the Pacific coast was officially discussed, and the reasons for its failure were discussed, with a certain Browder and a Mr. D'Arcy, whose real name is Sam Darek, a Russian-born Ukranian.

At that meeting was discussed the part that these professional agitators had played in the Pacific coast strike and also how they might do better the next time. Therefore, the interest of certain hostile elements in the merchant marine on our shipping front is a matter of record and is not my personal opinion.

Senator GIBSON. It was a matter of discussion in Moscow ?

Father WALSH. Yes, sir. In other words, American citizens went to Moscow and discussed with the leaders of the Third International the part they played in the San Francisco longshoremen's strike on the Pacific coast.

One of them who went over there to report has never got back, because the California authorities found out that he had committed some crime with respect to his naturalization, and now they are after him, and he does not dare come back. He is still over there. He goes by the name of D'Arcy. As I stated, his real name is Darek, and he is a Ukranian-born Russian, sent over for that purpose_to get his naturalization. I will find that stenographic report and submit it.

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. We will be glad to have it.

Father Walsh. That is a matter of record. It would not be capable of denial, because it is known that it was discussed at that meeting

The idea is to make use of that new element that has come into our merchant marine. I mean not the old-time sailor, the reliable American sailor, for whom I have the greatest sympathy, but there has drifted into the merchant marine the professional agitators. They have transferred to the ships the technique of labor conflicts ashore. Therefore, the idea of a sit-down strike, what they call a "quickie,” has been transferred over into a sphere where, in my opinion, it should be strenuously resisted by the Government, because it is the first step toward anarchy and mutiny on the high seas.

We think of the master as one who under international law and the usage of nations is responsible for everybody on a ship, responsible for its destiny, what it may do and what it shall not do; but if he is to bargain with, say, the crew of the forecastle or with the stewards aboard ship as to what he shall do with that ship, I think that puts the problem actually in focus.

I feel as a clergyman deeply sympathetic toward labor and better labor conditions, but I believe this sort of thing should not be tolerated for one moment, because the lives of people on board ship could easily depend on a false decision on the part of a master. If he is to have the responsibility of the navigation of the ship, he must have the responsibility of all the steps that lead up to it.

The CHAIRMAN. Father, you have read the testimony that has been given before this committee. Do you find any evidence there relating to communistic activities aboard ships?

Father WALSH. The Communist activities as related in the testimony are indentical with the standard Communist technique; namely, to have one man-what is called a cell-be the maritime unit. Áround him he will build other disaffected persons, and little by little it will spread from him to others. So you do not have to say that the crew are members of the Communist Party or are communistic; it is enough if there is one who knows that technique.

That, I think, is evident from the record; yes, sir. In other words, the technique of the sit-down strike is essentially derived from the Communist technique. We first heard of it in Paris, during those strikes there. Certain American labor leaders were in Paris immediately after that and learned the power of it. Then we saw it later in this country, and now it has been transferred to the high seas. That, I think, is the graph of the progressive spread of that. It is Communist technique. It is exactly what Lenin did in the summer of 1917, when he urged the workmen to take possession of factories and to sit right down and go through with it. It is the first step toward ultimate confiscation.

Since it first appeared here it has been declared illegal by the courts, although I regret to say that at the beginning it received substantial encouragement from a Cabinet member. Later the Cabinet member, I think, saw the implications that might have been found at the beginning were too dangerous, and the illegality of such strikes is now well settled by the courts.

Senator Gibson. It has been stated by someone that there is a Communist cell on board every American ship. Have you any doubt as to that?

Father WALSH. I could say this, Senator: Whether or not, as a matter of fact, they have succeeded in getting one on every ship would be a difficult thing to prove numerically, but that it is a part of their program to put one on every ship, and also on every ship in the Navy, is true.

Senator Gibson. It is a program dictated by Moscow ?

Father WALSH. Yes, sir; that is in the instructions. I have some of the words there in my paragraphs as to the units in the merchant marine, the Navy, the Army, and so on. Put in at least one clever man, and around him build this disaffection.

The disaffection, I think, has certain physical justification; namely, the conditions in the living quarters of the crews, as Dr. Lowe has said, often were appalling, and they should have been corrected. I think they are being corrected, but it is not sufficient, I think, to improve, for example, the food, the sleeping quarters, or, in one case which came to my attention, the shower baths, which were not what they ought to have been. Therefore, to jump over that into the great question of principle is the taking over of control of the ship, but that is precisely the left-wing tactics-to find something in any country, in any situation, which is legitimately worse than it should be, and then to base on that, little by little, further demands until finally, having been granted alpha, they go right through beta and

32437-38-pt. 8

6

gamma to omega and take over the whole thing, and that is what is happening

I have queried shipowners about this, and two owners of prominent lines have said, “We admit that the living conditions are not what they ought to be, but we are correcting them as fast as possible; but we find frequently, when correcting them, that the agitators will still be displeased with something else."

So, the idea is not really the correction of that abuse as such, but the establishment of a principle for them.

I might also say, Mr. Chairman, that I think it would be futile to attempt to reconstruct a lot of these old shipping facilities. Scrap the whole think. You will spend more money than the reconstruction is worth.

The CHAIRMAN. We have the period or interim between the present time and the time of the launching of new ships. We have the testimony from the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation and the Maritime Commission that large sums of money are being spent to make as decent as possible the facilities on existing ships. "I assume that is what we must do until we have actually launched these ships.

Father Walsh. I could understand that. It is a temporary measure. But that would be more expensive, relatively, than the cost of new construction.

The CHAIRMAN. Yes.

Father WALSH. In that connection, I found in the testimony one point which puzzles me considerably. I noticed that some spokesmen for some unions are against that provision of your proposed amendment that provides for labor mediation on the plan of railroad mediation. They do not want that.

The CHAIRMAN. They oppose it all along the line.

Father Walsh. I have tried to understand why, because it seems to me that that is the very thing which previously the labor unions and the International Longshoremen's Union and Andrew Furuseth's crowd wanted. They wanted some intervention by some Government agency. Therefore, I am at a considerable loss to understand the reasons for it.

The CHAIRMAN. Father, if you do not mind, let me give you in a word what I understand to be the reason.

The National Maritime Union has succeeded in making contracts with, I believe, 13 shipping lines. I placed in the record this morning the latest one, the contract made with the Standard Oil Co. These contracts between the unions and the owners are so specific as regards the privileges of workmen, and so definite as to wages and methods of adjusting their conditions that they resist any such plan as the Mediation Board, saying, among other things, that the conditions of maritime labor are different from the conditions of railroad labor, because the railroad unions have been in long possession of affairs in relation to labor on the railroads, and that they had done this preliminary work such as the Maritime Union is now undertaking to do, and, therefore, were prepared for the mediation boards.

Then, lastly, as I understand their argument, this mediation method is so slow that it takes months, and even years, to reach a conclusion.

Those are, in brief, the reasons advanced before this committee for the objection of the unions to the mediation proposal.

Father WALSH. Well, without desiring to take a stand as an apologist for the proposition, I must say it would still leave me very much perplexed for the simple reason that the making of a specific agreement with an operator by a union by no means assures the elimination of daily friction on board a ship with respect to the interpretation of that agreement. The tendency at present, from the record--and I base this entirely on the record-is toward perpetual disagreements, often the articles—the articles of signing on that come up every day.

You very rarely get the same crew twice on the same ship. What good is a contract unless it covered them all in, blanket wise? But you have new men; you have new interpretations of that contract so often on ships, with possibly the exception of big liners, where you will frequently have a more permanent crew. But under the present system of signing on and off for each voyage, you will have a newly recruited crew for each new voyage. There must be somebody among those men who interprets articles or contracts. The turnover is, I think, so fast and furious that, it seems to me, it would be to labor's benefit to have someone aboard ship who would not represent the owners, who would not represent them, but who would be friendly to them and who would be able, in an advisory capacity, such as was advocated here this morning, to iron out difficulties.

Moreover, the responsibility of a master at sea is so vast that the mediation process ought to have somebody there immediately who can at least act as an adviser. I would not advocate that there should be one on every ship. I agree with the Admiral, that a rotating panel, like a circuit of judges, would be a very steadying influence, because we cannot find from the records who is to blame. Frequently when strikes occur aboard ship, whether they be sitdown strikes or some other unwarranted disturbance, there is one version received from the crew and another version from the officers There ought to be some way of finding out where the trouble lies. In itself it is a humiliating admission, in that for the first time since the American clippers made their record we have to have on ships what the Admiral very clearly described as an umpire. An umpire means that there is a prizefight. That is just what is going on. There is a fight going on at the present time between the operators and the unions, and the modern development requires that there be an umpire.

Senator GUFFEY. For 2,000 years sailors have signed up for the voyage, and that is the way the wage scale is based. Do you think that if they were signed for a longer period it would help the labor trouble or improve the personnel ?

Father Walsh. Senator, taking the last part of your question first, I certainly think it would improve the personnel. In other words, it would make the seaman's status more of a profession.

Why are the railroads so stable, at least comparatively? The conductor, the Pullman porter, the baggageman, and the switchman each has his regular profession or occupation. They go home and come back year after year.

A seaman merely signs on at New York and frequently jumps his articles at Buenos Aires, or signs off when he comes back to New York. He just has no more interest in the ship. He just shops around and tries to locate another one. As a result, the hiring halls are not filled with good seamen; they are filled with floaters. Therefore, the idea of continuous articles is a good one and should raise the quality of personnel.

Senator ELLENDER. Father, I assume that you would be in favor of having some kind of training for seamen.

Father Walsh. Yes, sir. I am already on record about that, as advocating that.

Senator ELLENDER. There seems to be some difference of opinion as to whether or not this training should be done by the Coast Guard or by an independent agency of the Government. Have you any fixed ideas or views that you could give to us?

Father WALSH. Senator, the need of and the function of that training in the program, I think, is undisputed—I mean as to the fact that there ought to be such training. As to who should give that training, I think all three of the agencies that have been mentioned are very competent.

The Navy feels that it ought to be done by the Navy. We have heard today that the Coast Guard is fully equipped to do it. Perhaps the Bureau of Navigation and Steamboat Inspection would like to have something to do with it. There are three agencies of the Government. I do not think I would be prepared to prefer any one of them to the exclusion of the others; I think they would all do a good job. But with the proposition that it ought to be done I would be in hearty favor.

The CHAIRMAN. Have you any choice as to whether these traveling inspectors, if we may call them such, should come from the Coast Guard or from the Bureau of Steamboat Inspection and Navigation?

Father Walsh. Senator, you touch there a thing that has come up often during these hearings and has come up often during the last 15 years—namely, that we have too many units with jurisdiction over the merchant marine. Some form of centralization or unification of these jurisdictions is, I think, advisable.

The CHAIRMAN. Father, if I may interrupt you there to give you my own personal thought, I should like to see the Bureau of Navigation and Steamboat Inspection transferred to the Maritime Authority. If that were done, would the traveling inspectors of the Bureau, which would then be a part of the Maritime Commission, render as useful service as has been outlined here by Admiral Waesche this morning on the part of the Coast Guard ?

Father WALSH. As far as I could see, they ought to. It should not make much difference as to whom they are to report or what their specific pay roll or jurisdiction is, provided that they are a neutral, Government, competent third party, working between the operators and labor.

The CHAIRMAN. The labor-union witnesses here have indicated a spirit which is, I think I may state, one which is not violently opposed to but antagonistic to the Commission with regard to these labor boards for the reason that the Commission is operating ships. The Commission is an operating body as well as an administrative body.

Father WALSH. Yes.

The CHAIRMAN. It might possibly be that the Coast Guard would be considered a more neutral group than the Steamboat Inspection.

Father WALSHI. Certainly. In that case, Mr. Chairman, it seems to me that I would be indifferent; I would merely say whichever

« PreviousContinue »